On a sunlit morning in Sicily a vendor pushed his cart along the sidewalk, noisily singsonging indistinct words to the folks poking their heads out of the windows a few stories above the street.

Although I had studied the Italian language for several years, I couldn’t decipher a syllable from his cry. But as the ancient building’s residents lowered baskets to be filled by vegetables and fruit, I finally gave up trying to understand the communication between the wizened vendor and his customers.

“What is he saying?” I asked a disinterested fellow near me on the bench. “I couldn’t understand a word of it. Niente!

The old man shrugged. “He not saying anything. He is yelling to get attention to sell his tomatoes. E merda.”

Merda? You can guess.

By now, you may know me well enough in plain English where this vendor’s tale is going.

The evocative scene from a Sicilian street pulsates again in my mind every time, the current resident of the Oval Office attempts to transact his extended con job in the incoherent sales pitch of a sidewalk hustler in any deceptive manner that will draw attention solely to him.

Pathetically he has surrounded himself with spineless cupbearers who, if they didn’t sit idly in his cabinet in collaborative incompetence, might well be standing in a welfare line hoping for a job opening as a tomato peddler.

 

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