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Jeb Bladine: Eclipse & president astound Americans

It’s been quite a week.

Americans saw one breathtaking solar eclipse and one dumbfounding version of Donald Trump. Most agreed both experiences exceeded their wildest expectations.

Long before Monday, we knew the earth orbits our sun from about 93 million miles; our moon orbits Earth, 239,000 miles away; and occasionally, those two orbits overlap so precisely that briefly, the sun’s light is completely blocked along some path across the planet.

This week, that simple, mathematically precise, totally predictable phenomenon became more than the sum of its parts. In those few seconds, millions of spectators were participants in a wondrous, mystical, personal, sometimes spiritual connection to the grandness of life in a universe of the unknown.

I learned why I have vivid recall of stopping for the total solar eclipse in 1979, but only vague recollections of the outcome. It must have been a cloudy day; otherwise, as happened this week, the experience would have been permanently engraved in memory.

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

I’m not quite ready to chase eclipses worldwide, but when America’s next total eclipse cuts across Mexico and Texas enroute to New York and Maine, eclipse totality will last almost 4 ½ minutes a short drive from the Alamo.

Switching gears: Long before Tuesday, we knew that in his own mind, the Earth orbits around the galactic star of Donald Trump, and that occasionally, like a solar flare, there is an eruption of high-energy radiation from his mouth.

This week, that well-known phenomenon was more than the sum of its parts. In those 77 minutes at the president’s campaign-like rally in Phoenix, millions of Americans became participants in a disturbing, sometimes overpowering connection to the dangerous disruption dominating national politics in the United States.

I learned, again, why I have vivid recall of writing in 2016: “ … People yearn for leadership that might turn history’s tide. But in a sardonic twist worthy of a Kurt Vonnegut novel, that purported leader, Donald J. Trump, is unfit for office.” It must have been a clear day.

Celebrated eclipse-chaser David Baron recalled advice from an astronomer that launched his continuing life quest: “He said to me, ‘Before you die you owe it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse.’ And that got my attention.”

Well, consider this: You owe it to yourself to read the entire transcript of Trump’s speech, chronicled online by Time Magazine. TV clips don’t do it justice; only a full read reveals the real Donald Trump.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregsiter.com or 503-687-1223.

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