Out Takes: Was it mother who made him do it?

Edd Merritt

I was hanging out the other day, waiting for my wife to return from work at the Senior Center, so I turned to Spotify and decided to listen to Pink Floyd’s The Wall (showing my age, eh?). I actually began by listening to a rendition of one of the album’s songs, “Mother,” done by Sinead O’Connor and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, accompanied by Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Levon Helm from The Band. It’s a great version.

Listening to the lyrics, I said to myself, “Wow, talk about timely 40 years after it hit vinyl.” Here are a few lines that struck me in light of today’s environment:

“Mother, do you think they’ll drop the bomb?”
“Mother, should I run for president?”
“Mother, should I trust the government?”
“Mama’s gonna to make all of your nightmares come true,
Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you.”
“Ooh babe, of course mama’s gonna help build the wall.”
“Mama, did it need to be so high?”

The wall. Yes! Waters was far ahead of his time in foreseeing cement blocks between kids and their elders. Well, those kids are now post-millennial, and some of them face a wall of a different kind. There’s this dude in the White House, you see, talking walls of several varieties in addition to the one keeping immigrants out of Texas. There are walls to the top of towers, walls between mansions to which presidents can flee. There are fewer walls than most political families have between offspring and government, and no wall whatsoever between what he Twitters and what he thinks of himself. If he were only a third as thought provoking as some previous presidents, he’d be dangerous. There are walls between where he stands financially compared to his constituents, but remember he didn’t become a billionaire as a result of his own hard labor. Daddy passed the buck to him, and young Donald put the Trump name on just about everything that struck the landscape as a result, from city towers to verdant golf courses.

So was our president listening to his mother back in the late 1970s when The Wall came out? Was “Mama gonna make all his nightmares come true?” Was she gonna put all her fears into sonny? (Did she actually color his hair? Left to its own devices, his naturally blond waves, prior to being painted, would likely have followed the path of many of his political predecessors who grayed as a result of the time and commitment necessary to lead a nation that, as a democracy, argued within itself—no political activist stays pure blond for long. Gray quickly colors the oval office.)

Waters and fellow members of his “Floyds” focused on mother’s role in the development of her offspring. They raise the possible explanation of today’s presidential personality as being homegrown. If family is an important element of our learning constellation, was mama behind the Trump that sees himself as all-knowing, unwilling, often, to listen to others before making a cryptic comment about their place in society in contrast to his? He is managing to build a substantial wall between himself and many in this nation—Vermont legislators, thankfully, are in line with the anti-Trump charge in Congress. Charlotters at Town Meeting voted to impeach him. (Too little, too late, but giving credence to the possibility nonetheless).

As one who is now involved with words and their impact on readers, I find it curious how our president seems to personalize policies. He doesn’t simply focus on what he sees as important to change health-care practices, he has to call it a name, “Obamacare,” to build the cliché that his predecessor is identified with bad procedure. It becomes a short cut to what is really complex ways of paying for treating and maintaining the health of the nation’s medically needy.

Former Charlotter and ABC journalist Barrie Dunsmore lays much of the blame at the feet of drug companies. But isn’t corporate enterprise what Trump wants to see enhanced rather than see suffer under government oversight? Barrie notes in an article for the Rutland Herald and Barre Times Argus that opioid makers have played a major role in hooking people on excessive use of drugs.

I can remember, in fact, my own reliance on corporate pharmaceutical firms sending freebies to my father, a physician, who would in turn pass them on to me during hay fever season. I don’t think I ever took the same drug twice in a row, even though the companies wanted to convince my dad that theirs were better and, therefore, he ought to purchase them for his real patients. They were fighting an uphill battle, though. The effects of most anti-pollen allergy drugs were hard to distinguish one from another. What really worked was moving to New York City where pollen stopped somewhere just west of the Hudson River. (There were several other maladies to replace it, however, not the least of which were headaches from the New York state of mind. “The world stops at the end of my block” was a common refrain)

On a finishing note, I’ll recite the tale of our daily cardinal. We have a young redbird who dives at our house windows day after day. The windows, in turn, being solid panes of glass, do not give in to his inquisition. They act as walls to his brain. I don’t know whether mama cardinal contributed DNA that keeps him coming back for an impossible incursion, but his brain cells make me wonder how similar they are to our president’s, both in quality and in quantity. Every gene seems to go into making bird and man colorful but not always smart. The bird is cute, and while one red topknot and one painted blond topknot make each head distinctive, it’s what’s inside in the cranium that counts. In at least a few instances, that filler material seems about equal in both bird and president.