AUGUST 4, 2018


Trump’s Gaslight Should Be Clear to All by Now


This is the column for you if your Manang Baby is watching the news and asks, “What is this gaslight, they talk about? Don’t they use electricity in Washington, DC?”

Right now the gaslight moments are coming fast and furiously in America, making it all crystal clear what’s going on. That is unless you’re a gaslit Filipino American, trying to hang on to your sanity. Then you really need help.

The gaslight idea refers to the 1944 movie where Charles Boyer plays a criminal trying to keep a secret from Ingrid Bergman.

Boyer lies so convincingly about the truth Bergman sees, that he has her convinced she’s crazy.

Bergman was so convincing, she won an Oscar.

Which part describes you in our democracy?

See the trailer online.

And then watch the TV news from the last two weeks starting with the Helsinki summit, and then on through the would/wouldn’t, yes/no walkbacks. For good measure, throw in the “wasn’t that fun, maybe let’s do Trumputin Summit II,” and the walkback of that after Putin dissed Trump by showing little interest.

That would be enough for a single presidency let alone a single week, but this is the president who defies the norms. So, of course, let us not forgot the airing of the secret playmate payoff tapes.

Still wearing your MAGA hat forward?

If so, then simply replay a clip of Trump at the VFW meeting from Tuesday and let the president’s words really sink in. The part where he says: “Just remember what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

His warning could apply to his own deceptive words.

But the metaphor should be clear.

The gaslight is the twilight of American democracy.

Instead of upholding the values we hold dear as Americans, you know, truth and freedom, things like that, we have a president who continues to attack the media by casting doubt on everything journalists report. Shooting the watchdog works in authoritarian countries, like China and Russia. But Trump is going even further by threatening his critics with the revocation of security clearances.

Trump already has most all the Republicans, fearful of losing their jobs, in lockstep.

Chances are that hold on Congress will keep a resolution from coming before the House lambasting Trump for having shamelessly “sold out America.”

That was House minority leader Nancy Pelosi’s words condemning how Trump ignored U.S. intelligence and took the word of Putin that there was no election meddling by Russia.

Uhh, which side are you on, Mr. President?

Pelosi suggested that Putin must have some kind of “blackmail” on Trump from all his business deals in Russia, most of which cannot be uncovered because the president has withheld his tax records.

Why doesn’t the president just come clean and tell the truth?

Why didn’t Charles Boyer?

The least a commander-in-chief can do is stand up for the great American values of our democracy, like freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. Not to mention, uphold and defend our electoral process, which his own intelligence agencies concur has been and continues to be under attack by Russia.

It’s not “other people,” like Trump’s mythical bad guy hacker, some 400-pound guy sitting in his underwear somewhere.


I was in Chicago for the Filipino American Historical Society national convention when the Helsinki Summit happened.

As I watched it on the screen,Trump was actually revealing his true self.

You see, bullies don’t punch back. Bullies are weak. Bullies are cowards.

Bullies, when they’re president, betray the American people.

The way you beat a bully is merely to stand up to him. Even when you’re shorter with less hair like Putin. The Russian president never had to take off his shirt or mount a horse. He never flinched. He knew exactly how to play a trump hand.

Putin stood his ground at that monstrous event we might as well call the birthing of some new two-headed world monster. Because there they were--the two leaders, one supposedly of the free world and the other of the less free.

And there they were both speaking as one.


Trump had a chance to take a swing. Even sucker punch Putin.

But you don’t throw a sucker punch when you’re the sucker.

We’re left betrayed by a leader who doesn’t stand up and defend our interests or democratic values as forcefully and unequivocally as possible.

It was there for all to see: Trump’s public betrayal of America.


Asian Americans know how it feels when a president betrays them.

Filipino veterans of World War II went to fight for the U.S. in the Philippines during WWII. Promised citizenship and full pay and benefits by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s order, they signed up in droves. Filipinos made up most of the prisoners in the Bataan Death March.

For their efforts they got the Rescission Act of 1946, signed by President Truman, which negated the promise of Roosevelt.

It took more than 55 years for them to be made whole.

Roosevelt also gave us Executive Order 9066, which led to the incarceration of thousands of Japanese Americans.

Asian Americans know how it feels to be let down by a president.

And now so does the rest of America.


EMIL GUILLERMO is an award-winning journalist and commentator who writes from Northern California. He recently won the 2015 Dr. Suzanne Ahn Award for Civil Rights and Social Justice from the Asian American Journalists Association California.

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