WASHINGTON — The solar eclipse was a wonderful thing. Full of wonder. No need to poll that.
Here in the nation's capital, it was the happiest thing to happen in seven months. Looking skyward, people were moved to see the moon cover the sun almost totally. Strangers passing the time of day in Georgetown, and then passing a pair of eclipse glasses around, melted into mere fellow earthlings. It sparked a sense of oneness, just us and the cosmos.
The eclipse revealed what's written in the stars. Donald Trump is doing just this to America, blocking the rays of light left by Barack Obama. The two presidents are like the moon and the star we call the sun, are they not? And as the moon moves right in front of our sightline to the sun, darkness descends on the land in the day. Our land. Ill fares the land.
Fresh off his outrageous rants about the race riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump was feeling good the day of the eclipse. He had declared the armed white supremacists out on the streets included some "very fine people," and equated them with counterprotesters who were beaten so badly that police did nothing to come to their aid. One young woman lost her life.
The day after the eclipse, Trump looked forward to a warm welcome in Phoenix, Arizona, stirring up his base base (sorry!) with a gloating speech at a rally. He threatened to shut down the government over the wall he wants to build. He also stirred up thousands of protestors on the streets. So the night was perfect, a heaving hot mess.
While the eclipse drew us together, the president's talent is to tear us apart.
The epiphany explains exactly what we have seen. At first, few could fathom why Trump said nothing to comfort or heal a bleeding wound, a numb city, a reeling nation.
After all, President Obama found the words to sing "Amazing Grace" at the funeral of nine murdered black churchgoers in South Carolina. Normal presidents try to make a tragedy better; Trump made a bad thing worse. Never have we seen a president get defiant pleasure from making the public square more upset, angry and bewildered, as we witnessed in the wake of Charlottesville.
Now we see with clarity that Trump will never do the right thing. He will never say the right thing. He will always prowl for the next enemy to attack and when in doubt, there's always the media. He's willing to wage war with his own party leaders and senators, as Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is finding out in the most excruciating way. Hater-in-chief night and day — that's his job.
The 44th president, meanwhile, vanished save for a tweet about love from whatever island he's on. Was it all so ephemeral?
There's now a current in some circles that the sunny Obama may have left the door open for the dark side of the moon. Remember the festering birther issue that citizen Trump started years ago? Obama was too elegant to respond and get down in the gutter with the man who rose out of it to blacken the White House. I wish Obama had called him out as a racist and put it to rest.
The eloquent former president left the economy in good shape (for some) and joined the Paris Accords on climate change. Health care has his name on it. Trump has already crossed out one legacy, Paris, and came close to burning up Obamacare. We miss the younger man's bright reason and dignity, visible as that rim around the sun.
Yet, some say, Obama never fought the good fight on race. Professor Michael Eric Dyson notes in The Washington Post: "Obama went out of his way to proclaim himself not black America's president but everybody's president: everybody, it seemed, except black folks."
True, Obama never confronted the rise of racial hatred during his time in the sun. The angry, unchecked swell led to the total darkness of Trump, who won without a majority.
The heartland was graced by totality, the grandest display of what the moon and sun can do to our planet. Somehow that seemed perfect.
To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.