Oh, how delectable the food on Air Force One must be these days!
President Trump, after all, has come to expect a certain quality of meal over the course of his life. Perhaps the family members all feast on well-done Trump Steaks doused with ketchup, then wash it all down with some Trump spring water. As Fox News buzzes away in the background, they all laugh the night away, taking turns regaling the president with tales of his preternatural wisdom and uncommon stamina. How lucky we all are to have bathed in the same river of time as this great man!
As James Laver once noted, Britain's Edwardian age was "probably the last period in history when the fortunate thought they could give pleasure to others by displaying their good fortune before them." But what of the new Trump lifestyle, which demonstrates to the world, and this week to the president of China, the glorious buffet of riches that awaits all Americans?
All Trump asks of us in exchange for this enticing representation of the American dream is the low sum of $3 million every other weekend so he can fly the first family to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Who cares if his Florida trips to date, six of them counting the meeting with President Xi Jinping, could fund the annual salaries of more than 400 elementary school teachers in America — without those teachers, those students will never be able to do the math! Problem solved!
The Trump version of the American dream probably is not quite the one running through the head of an elderly black man sleeping in a chair at the Milwaukee Greyhound station, warm inside on a cold morning. His head is resting at an impossible angle propped up on his arm, while a black hood is pulled down over his brow.
The bus station sits almost directly underneath one of the interstate highways. It is as if the city swept it under a carpet to avoid visitors from noticing it. The bus terminal shares a long, high-ceilinged waiting room with Amtrak rail. The terminal, like the city itself, is all but segregated: The crowds loading onto buses are almost exclusively black, while the groups exiting the trains are virtually all white.
When America's poorest residents need to visit a sick loved one or an out-of-town child, they are rarely afforded a personal, taxpayer-funded flight; instead, they ride the bus. Less than $100 will get a traveler as far as Cleveland, but the ride lasts 12 hours. Most riders on Wednesday morning are first bound for Chicago, a trip that can be purchased for $8-$10, depending on the time of day. The only actual security that exists is a sign near the terminal that tells bus riders to report anything they see that might be suspicious, as if intuition were a plausible substitute for a metal detector.
Security is high at the "Winter White House," however, where Trump hosts world leaders under the careful watch of a mobile Secret Service detail. These expensive agents must be there to monitor Trump's golf outings with visitors such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; for that game Trump used a gold driver that Abe gifted him after the election.
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Oh, to be present at the late night talks at Mar-a-Lago, where the men retreat to the cigar room! Presumably, the Trump vodka runs free while the locker room talk keeps everyone in stitches. "Shinzo, baby! I noticed you're bailing out on your short putts! Not good! Not good!"
Yet his swanky Florida resort is undoubtedly where Trump does all his deep thinking about how to fix depressed inner cities such as Milwaukee's. Coincidentally, it was in the outer Milwaukee suburb of West Bend last August where candidate Trump announced his plans to fix all that ailed African Americans.
"To every voter in Milwaukee, to every voter living in the inner city or every forgotten stretch of our society, I'm running to offer you a much better future, a much better job," Trump said at a rally in Washington County (black population: 1.2%).
The grandeur of Trump's recurring jet-fueled vacation obscenity has yet to trickle down to the young woman in the Milwaukee bus station trying to manage three children who all appear to be under age 3. Near the unceasing low buzz of the vending machines, she bottle-feeds the youngest child, while the other two girls, both wearing flower-print jackets, take turns dropping their water bottles on the floor.
When boarding is called, the woman stands, baby in her arms, while her two daughters dutifully line up like ducklings behind her. They are off to see America, where everywhere must seem as far away as a golf resort for billionaires.
Christian Schneider is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors and a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
De USA TODAY, 06/04/2017