SOUTH BEND – Ralph the Republican arrived first at the breakfast place where he and Donald the Democrat meet almost every weekday morning to sip coffee and argue politics. Each enjoys irritating the other, all in fun, of course – sort of.
Ralph has been getting there first most times since the election, always eager to talk politics. Donald? Less eager, preferring lately to discuss sports or the weather. But Donald smiled as he walked purposefully rather than reluctantly to their usual table.
D: Hi, Ralphie. Suppose you heard all the controversy over what Trump’s done now. Ready to concede the guy’s crazy? Got here an article about whether he suffers from something called malignant narcissism.
R: So, now you’re a shrink? Since Trump’s doin’ what he said he’d do, you Democrats claim he must be nuts. Guess keepin’ campaign promises sounds nuts to you.
D: Hey, even you guys didn’t think he’d do some of this stuff. You said Mike Pence, our former terrible governor, would keep him under control. Then he does things to stir protests all over the country.
R: Yeah, Donnie, protests by people who still won’t accept he’s our president. Like you. You never call him “President Trump.” It’s just “Trump.” Show some respect.
D: Gee, Ralphie, I remember when you wouldn’t call Obama president. Even agreed with Trump that President Obama wasn’t born in America. Wasn’t even president. Never showed respect for him.
R: That was different. Obama didn’t deserve respect. I couldn’t even watch him on TV. Had to change channels when he came on.
D: Well, I can’t watch Trump. Couldn’t stand to watch the inauguration. He’s gonna be impeached.
R: Impeached? Gonna be President Donald J. Trump for eight years.
D: Not with his Muslim ban. Unconstitutional. Threatening Mexico over his silly wall. All the stuff with Russia and Putin. Undermines NATO. Conflicts of interest. Protests gonna grow.
R: Yeah, well I bet lots of those protesters didn’t even vote. They knew what Trump promised. But lots of your Democrats in important states didn’t care. Got a niece in college who’s all mad about Trump keepin’ his promises. But she didn’t vote for Hillary because she said they were mean to Bernie. Kinda late for her to protest now.
D: Hey, did anybody think Trump would issue all those executive orders? Get rid of environmental protections. Promote coal and oil pipelines and guns. Let businesses do as they please.
R: Yep. That’s what he said he’d do. That’s what Middle America wanted. His base is even stronger because he’s doin’ just that.
D: Hold on, Ralphie. Didn’t you guys criticize Obama for executive orders? Said he was tryin’ to be a dictator. He never issued anything like the flurry of executive orders already from Trump.
R: That was different. Obama issued orders against coal and pipelines and businesses. Pretended he’d prevent so-called climate change. Pathetic. For losers. Not what we want.
D: Trump can’t even admit, despite the photos, that his inauguration crowd was a lot smaller than Obama’s. He won’t admit Russian hackers and Putin got him elected.
R: You guys won’t admit that Trump won, Hillary lost. You spread fake news to pretend she won.
D: Trump’s the fake. Sayin’ his family’s got no conflict of interest.
Just then, Susie, their usual waitress, came by with more coffee.
R: Hey, Susie, you see that new poll showin’ solid Republican support for our president’s ban on Muslim terrorists?
D: Yeah, Susie, it also shows solid Democratic opposition to an unconstitutional religious test that hurts the innocent, helps the terrorist cause.
S: So, what’s new. You guys are as split as the country. Just think of your waitress before you two storm out again and forget my tip. No use, I guess, to ask you to think big.
R&D: Think big?
S: Yeah, about the country.

Colwell has covered Indiana politics over five decades for the South Bend Tribune.