Monday, January 11, 2021

A Day I Find Difficult to Summarize

Every time I think I'm about to start a post with what I'm thinking, instead of one with another shocking video or picture or quoting someone, I get weary and don't even start. We'll see how this one goes. 

The more time goes by, the more last Wednesday gets distilled, for me, to its essence and the more shocking it is -- the president of the United States incited a riot to overtake the Capitol and threaten the vice-president and Congressional lives in order to overturn a fair election that he manufactured an enormous lie about. 

I think that statement will be just as shocking in 20 years time, unless even more shocking events are to come in the next weeks, months and years. Weeks and months: my guess is probably not, even though the FBI is warning of extremist discussions of violence in DC and in all 50 state capitols between now and the inauguration. 

But my only reason for thinking that is that it's hard to imagine being so shocked again so quickly, which I realize is a kind of bias.  And because National Guard troops are rolling out -- up to 15,000 in DC soon -- to quell any uprisings. Trump seems truly emasculated at the moment with few of his dependable MAGA avenues left to him, and he's afraid to go on television either at the White House or before a reporter.

I still think he's a threat though, and it's truly disappointing Nancy Pelosi keeps giving Mike Pence 24 more hours to invoke the 25th Amendment, which I don't see him having the courage to do (even though there's the need), and she takes the weekend off of the impeachment effort when on Friday she keep telling us how dire the situation was. Perhaps her caucus was writing and rounding up the votes, when now the Democratic majority in the House is extremely thin (only 220 Democrats out of 435 members, I believe, a majority of just 3). But he still has the nuclear codes, the military commanders seemed to tell Pelosi that taking them away would be a military coup, and it's clearer than ever that he is deeply mentally ill. If you don't invoke the 25th Amendment now, after the worst act by an American president, when would you ever?

My own representative, Democrat Kurt Schrader, said last Friday he didn't support impeachment, calling pressure for it like a "lynching." Yes, he did. He has since apologized, and also now favors impeachment.  

If you have access, or enough free articles left this month, I thought Jennifer Senior's article in today's NY Times was very good, about how malignant narcissists always end up this way, in great tragedy, going down in flames, hurting everyone around them -- spouses, children, relatives, friends, colleagues, companies, governments, countries. She ended with

"You needn’t be a particularly astute observer of the Trump presidency to understand that his incendiary, hateful policies and rhetoric and mirthful disregard for the law would one day end in violence. But you needn’t be a particularly astute observer of character, either, to see that a man who feels no empathy, exploits ruthlessly, lies reflexively, seeks success at any cost and lives in terror of seeing it vanish would never go quietly."

Almost as shocking -- almost, but perhaps not quite -- was that over 100 Republicans voted for The Big Lie, the electoral fraud claim, after the riots had occurred and after they had all run and hid for their lives. This problem is probably much bigger than Trump. The Republican party deserves to die at the voter's hands, but we know that given red states voters most of its members won't lose their seats. Perhaps the current withdrawal of corporate political contributions will matter if their electorates don't care. Perhaps not, we'll see. But there is a bigger problem than Trump, and will be whether he comes back in some form or not.

As I saw more than one person write on Twitter, political scientists remind us that while the first putsch often fails, subsequent putsches often do not -- or the third, or fourth, or.... And once violence is used, the option of using it the next time might well seem less unthinkable by those who want to use it. And that's a very bad slope. 

I've gotten this far, so I'm going to stop here. I'm interested in what others are thinking. I'll try to catch up on comments of the last few days. Thanks for reading. 


Michael said...

David, i'm just a reader of you blog, i don't comment.

But wanted to say, thanks for writing.

I really hope things get better.

Thomas said...

Had those republican congressmen known they would win, voted for a succesful coup, it would have made some kind of sense, but who in his right mind votes like that just as an act of symbolism?

Layzej said...

"You needn’t be a particularly astute observer of the Trump presidency to understand that his incendiary, hateful policies and rhetoric and mirthful disregard for the law would one day end in violence."

I have to admit, I never imagined it would come to this. And it could have been much worse. They found pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails. There was a gallows for God's sake.

Layzej said...

The reality of this is so shocking that I can't reconcile it with my recollection of what I had anticipated. To get a clearer glimpse of my former self's expectations, I went back to this post where Tom Friedman is quoted as saying:

"The President of the United States has told us ‘Either I win the election or I delegitimize the election."


“When you have a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, amplified by a network without integrity, and by social networks that are marinated in conspiracy theories, behind whom are a lot of armed people — if you are not frightened by this, you are not paying attention.”

My comment there indicates I may have had an inkling. It seems DiC's cousin Marilyn was the most prescient though.

Entropic man said...

I'm inclined to agree. The Overton Window of acceptable political behaviour has shifted away from honesty and integrity towards lies and extreme behaviour.

Mobs invaded state capitals and the Hill, with 43% of Republicans approving.

Speaking as an outside observer, I never expected the US to go this far down the path which ends with Nehemiah Scudder."If_This_Goes_On—"

Layzej said...

Looks like my link didn't come through on my last comment.
This is the post where Thomas Friedman predicted that Trump would incite violence if he lost: