Friday, January 8, 2021

So We'll Walk Up the Avenue


The Feast of the Epiphany started off with a bang just a little while after midnight when it became inescapably evident that not just Reverend Raphael Warnock but also Jon Ossoff were going to be elected to the Senate, though the networks weren't calling it yet, and I went to bed in a fog of sleepy triumph, only to wake up around 3:30 with an appalled sense of how high the stakes had just gotten: in the sense that we—I mean Democrats, speaking for myself—have just lost our biggest excuse for not getting our agenda done, but it hasn't gotten practically easier almost at all.

I'll get back to that eventually, but it got completely overshadowed by the other big epiphany of the day, that afternoon, with the two thousand participants or so in the Million-MAGA March, after Trump gave them the signal they were waiting for:

So we’re going to, we’re going to walk
down Pennsylvania Avenue,
I love Pennsylvania Avenue,
and we’re going to the Capitol
and we’re going to try and give…
The Democrats are hopeless. They’re never
voting for anything, not even one vote.
But we’re going to try and give our Republicans,
the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t
need any of our help, we’re going to try
and give them the kind of pride and boldness
that they need to take back our country.

Is what he said (and I couldn't help thinking of Irving Berlin's slumming song from Easter Parade, where it was performed by Fred Astaire and Judy Garland). Later on, via Twitter, before Twitter started cutting him off, he started changing his tone, advising the MAGAts to "stay peaceful" and eventually to "go home", but that wasn't a signal they were prepared for. What they were prepared for, in fact, was to take members of Congress hostage, tie them up, and maybe murder some of them on camera, though they weren't particularly well prepared and didn't in the end do that either, but eventually left the building peaceably and returned, undeterred by the Capitol Police, to their hotels (the handsome guy in the animal skins and shamanic face paint was staying at the Willard), leaving four of their number dead behind them, and few if any regrets.

I'm amazed by the cold and unpanicked character of my rage. It was obvious things like this were going to start happening, and the attack on the Capitol was being telegraphed for a while. It was also obvious they were going to lose, if their aim was to overturn the election, or install themselves in power, or anything whatever unless it was to boost Donald's fundraising.

I know their intentions were unspeakably bad—I saw the gallows they set up outside the Capitol—

Photo by Sarah Sicard/Military Times.

But I know they were incapable of carrying them out, and as I've been saying, the fact that they thought they might do that, like some kind of Southern Baptist Taliban, or accomplish anything at all, is just another sign of their incompetence.

Trump himself. one more time, owes a lot of his successes directly to his incompetence—because he's too stupid to understand what he can and can't do, he'll try anything that pops into his head, in defiance of advice, and sometimes he'll get away with it. He never managed to buy Greenland, but he did, bizarrely, become president (I still don't think that was, in fact, his idea, though he ended up thinking it was cool—the point of the candidacy was branding, to become "the most famous man in the world," and he did succeed in that). And his tenacity in the face of the impossible and the assiduity of his minions in finding ways to make him look as if he'd succeeded often succeeds in giving him the look of victory—he never managed to ban Muslims from entering the US or build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it, but he did ultimately get some pointless travel restrictions through to make life hard for a few innocent people, and see some stupid and wasteful construction on the border, that he could point at as accomplishments. He's like the mutations that drive biological evolution—his ideas are random and mostly harmful, but once in a while they manage to stick. 

The same is true of his followers and their plans to overthrow the government. They were terrible plans and didn't have a chance of succeeding, and they're not going to learn to do it better some day either, though it's possible some American Putin is out there working coolly on a 12-year plan that really will work to end representative government, and encouraged by the stupidity of such large swathes of the population and the general weakness of the commitment to constitutionalism and democracy all over our population. These people we're talking about this week may manage to do a good deal of harm, but it will be alongside their being too stupid to achieve anything they're planning or to understand they should be trying something different. It's all basically Dog Day Afternoon on the national political stage.

And while I'm sure I'll be afraid of them again at some point, and even pity them, as not to blame for their racism and stupidity and hard luck, I will never treat them with the respect they crave until they start making an effort to deserve it. I'm so done with that. While trying to reserve actual hatred for those like Joshua Hawley and Rafael Edward Cruz who really should know better. All in all, though, it's nothing but a badly written clown show, and I'm right on that even if it does some day succeed in some sense.

Now let's get back to thinking about the coming Biden administration.

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