Greene’s Gazpacho and Trump’s Toilets

The New Yorker

Yesterday the media reported endlessly on Greene’s continuing and insufferable stupidity and the ex-president’s propensity to flush documents down White House toilets. Hard to wake up to this stuff.

I still read the latest in politics each morning on the internet. This practice had begun to ruin my day so I’ve endeavored to change it. I try to make phone calls and email friends, walk to the bakery, get on my exercise machine. I’m still caught up with our political follies, but no longer to the point of writing about them or hashing them out with friends. It ain’t worth the angst.

Since most people can’t face the enormity of what’s happening in the U.S., the media’s fallback is to divert us with the folly of our political happenings. Politics and the reporting thereof have become a burlesque.

Yet I’ve spent too many years in politics not to take it seriously. It’s very hard to do that now. I mark all the many appeals for funds I get from Democrats as spam. I no longer follow Democrats Abroad. Most of the received opinions about the current crisis—the likely onset of a new civil war, gerrymandering, court packing, and so on—I find repetitious and half-baked. Or they keep telling us about the persistent Congressional standoffs.

So maybe we shouldn’t blame the media for telling us ad nauseum about the crocodile who finally got the tire removed from its neck. Yesterday I was looking for some freaky “good news stories” to write about, like the one about preventing Alzheimer’s with toothpaste. The idea was to lighten up the pervasive gloom about current events. I eventually tossed out that approach after realizing that such stuff was just clickbait. The media thrives on clickbait.

Since I spent quite a few years studying and teaching literature I tried to get back to reading more. That worked for a while but I always gravitated to the current affairs stuff on Kindle and got too absorbed in that. Interesting but invariably gloomy.

So I looked at the shelves of books that I had just unpacked after my recent move. Music, history, fiction, poetry, and culture were there in abundance. Could they be a passage to my recovery from boredom and disgust? The books looked back at me as if through a scrim of non-recognition, even though I had read them all and absorbed much pleasure from many. But I felt little urge to pick them up and explore them again.

Even so, I will do that with a few because they represent old pleasures and insights that were and are valuable to me. Literature is life rendered, after all, and mostly from a simpler and better time. It has always been a refuge for me, and perhaps it will be so again. In times like this, we need our sanctuaries.

A Sharp Dressed Man

Imposter that he is, Trump dressed like a Mafia Don. Biden is playing the long game and dresses like a president should. You can’t beat a navy blue pinstripe suit. I am reminded of the great ZZ Top tune from 1983, “Sharp Dressed Man,” and, not least, how power dressing used to count for something in public life. Mitch McConnell in his off-white suits doesn’t really get that.

Most of us are entirely worn out with the pandemic, the stimulus negotiations, the Greene affair, and the daily GOP turmoils. Republicans are thrashing around trying to patch up their broken party and keep in the game while Joe Biden is quietly upstaging them at every turn. Yesterday the House Dems voted to kick M.T. Greene off her committees, even while Kevin McCarthy, the GOP’s top turkey, gave her a pass.

Before this, Joe coolly met for two hours with ten Republican senators and overshadowed them all, likely winning the stimulus battle. Maybe the pinstripe didn’t matter. But maybe subliminally it did.

The Lemmings

The GOP’s answer to its post-Trump blues: More Trump

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s vile new antics highlight a 50-year GOP story

In the most recent Republican playbook, the lemmings continue to follow the Great Psychopath over the cliff until, as in the last moment of a Looney Tunes cartoon, he steps aside and they don’t. Reminds you a little of the Jonestown massacre, though Trump, unlike Jim Jones, is in no way going down with his ship. And we don’t finally know whether the gutless Republicans will continue drinking the Kool-Aid.

How could this mad devotion come to pass? No one can really explain it. Hard to believe so many would make this Faustian bargain for political power. The mass extinction of the GOP looms, one hopes. The only person who could begin to get inside the phenomenon is Hunter Thompson, and he is dead.

“The party risks tying its future to a one-term president whose deeply polarizing style cost the party both the House and the Senate during his four years in office.” So says David Siders in Politico. It’s worse than that, David. Some 80 percent of Republicans now approve of his record; and 56 percent of Republican voters believe that Trump should either probably or definitely run for president again in 2024. A new poll from YouGov and The Economist found that 72 percent of Republican voters—almost three in four—believed Biden’s win was illegitimate.

All but five of fifty GOP Senators now support Trump and his reelection fantasy. So the second impeachment is quickly moving toward irrelevancy. And “the Trumpster Visigoth wing of the Republican party” (thanks, Thomas Mallon) is in full ascendance. Someone should write a novel about all this. Characters like Giuliani, Bannon, Cruz and others in Trump’s Mafia are hard to come by in fiction. Then if you threw QAnon fancier Marjorie Taylor Greene into the story, it would test all credibility:

CNN reports that Greene “liked” a social media post that suggested “a bullet to the head” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and seemed to approve of a suggestion that other prominent Democrats should be hanged.

She mocks the Parkland school shooting in which 17 died. Very few Republicans have chosen to comment on her crackpot assertions. In fact, there’s no fiction that could do justice to this woman’s sordid reality. For some of us, the Republican party has lost all reason for existence. The state-level actors in places like Pennsylvania are also losing all reason for existence.

GOP state legislative leaders called on Republican congressional members to object to the Electoral College results or “delay” their certification. Every House Republican in Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, save one, obliged, voting to invalidate their state’s Electoral College votes.

As in other things, Hunter Thompson may have said it best: “I believe the Republicans have never thought that democracy was anything but a tribal myth.”