Some days it’s just impossible to find a silver lining. I know you already know this about me, but I just can’t fathom the level of stupidity being evinced at the national and some state levels. These days, it feels unrelenting.
In the last 24 hours I read four very angry columns that lambasted the president and his lack of response and total indifference — he is busy using the highest office in the land to hawk a line of food I imagine he’s never eaten in his life — to a pandemic that is pulling down Americans at a breathtaking rate.
It’s not that difficult to find any number of angry columns — you’re looking at one right now — but the authors were Jennifer Rubin, who when I started reading her regularly in 2016 called her column “The Right Turn”; Michael Gerson, a solidly conservative evangelical Christian; Max Boot, a lifelong, water-carrying Republican until the first Wednesday in November, 2016; and George Will, perhaps the largest lion of conservatism, also now a refugee from the tatters of the once Grand Old Party.
If they can see so clearly the ugly, naked form of the emperor-president, why is it so difficult for so many others?
This is what has happened: on the day Alabama’s “we ain’t got no issue with this here virus” governor at last embraces pragmatism and mandates masks statewide, Georgia — where the ethically-challenged governor who presided as state secretary over his own election, after tossing hundreds of thousands of mostly minority voters off the state rolls — has overriden by executive fiat all municipal officials, telling them they can’t tell their constituents to wear masks.
And why would he do such a stupid thing, other than native stupidity? Because the even stupider president — I am done even attempting to be polite — went to Atlanta for no particularly good reason, and his one masked appearance was apparently one more than his sad figure could handle, because he was once again showing his ugly naked form in Atlanta.
The Atlanta mayor, herself a current victim of covid, announced he had committed an illegal act, since masks are required in her city. The idiot, sycophant governor decided the best response to this was to tell the mayor and all her peers that he will tell them what they can and can’t mandate. There is no longer a mask requirement anywhere in Georgia, at least in his small mind.
Theoretically, the reason to take this approach is because our economy is far more important than any little lives lost along the way. We can point to the unmoored stock market, or soaring housing market to show that good times are practically just around the corner — but another 1.3 million Americans filed, for the first time, for unemployment last week.
While jobs have come back more quickly than predicted, it’s still a fraction of the jobs lost, which is the part of the conversation the president can never get to. More and more of the jobs lost are now being marked as permanent losses, and the unemployment rate is exceeding the height of the recession some of us can still remember that took a decade to recover from.
These newly unemployed are coming into the final two weeks of enhanced benefits and the senate, always willing to bail out its corporate buddies (buy these beans I’ve never eaten!), really doesn’t seem to feel any urgency to help average Americans, who are defaulting on mortgages at an unaverage rate. Or any urgency to those who have been promised help but have yet to receive any of it. Or those who never got help in the first place.
It just feels like the wheels are coming off the bus, no longer in slow-motion, and we’re all sitting on the bus, can feel and see it as it happens, knowing we’re going to get in this horrible wreck — and we don’t care.
We don’t seem to care that we are surpassing every other country in the world for inept virus response; we don’t seem to care that single states are surpassing all but say the top 10 countries for daily virus cases; we don’t seem to care that Germany, with three times the population, had a daily virus total 1/100th that of Florida; we just don’t seem to care at all.
There were the Know-Nothings of the mid-19th century in American politics; now we have the Do-Nothings of the Republican party. And I know you’ve heard this too, but I just don’t get it.
There are people, like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who have always put their political survival above any ideology. He has made it past the point of a primary opponent; if people aren’t going to vote for him because he’s saying mean things about his golfing buddy, they certainly aren’t going to vote for a Democrat; his seat is supposedly solid. And in six years, when he would next be up for election, my hope is that you won’t be able to find a single person in the country willing to admit they voted for the current president.
So he ought to be sitting in a driver’s seat, even if it’s from the back of the car. He’s made little tiny noises in recent days, slightly chiding his bestest buddy over the stubborn adherence to the good ol’ Confederacy and refusing to favor American military lives over the bestest buddy’s bestest buddy, the autocrat of Russia, but surely, even with his hands over his eyes, tucked way into the corner of that backseat, the senator ought to be able to see the coming conflagration. I mean, you know it’s bad when some of the Fox pundits start suggesting they should brace for presidential defeat, right?
I notice that the Colorado senator up for re-election is running on a record he doesn’t really own, that of a moderate bipartisan who cares deeply — and I mean deeply — about the environment. Not so much as a whiff of the president, although his opponent has not been shy about putting the two of them together in picture after picture, voting record after voting record.
It seems from here that Republicans really have three options. Stay the course, just like it’s April 14, 1912, and an iceberg lies straight ahead. Risk the voters’ ire from places, like Senator Toady Graham’s, where the voters will have a much harder time exacting revenge due to the calendar, and start pushing back against the lack of policies that are getting your constituents killed by a disease 10 times more lethal than the flu (or so I hear from those wacky scientists).
Or there’s the radical option that maybe no one but me is considering: broker your virus-infested convention in Florida and dump the incumbent. No matter what he thinks, and what those simpering behind him think, it appears these days that he’s just not as popular as he is in his imagination, and unless you can imagine a huge, instant economic recovery that almost no one else seems to be imagining (it might be hard to make money when your customers are sick by the tens of thousands and dying by the thousands), it might be time to try a different sort of visionary. Someone who can see past the end of his or her nose.
So on a day when the Alabama governor, her ICUs overrun with covid patients, finally acknowledges her way wasn’t working and decides to try a more healthful tack, and Walmart and Kroger Foods both announce mask requirements in their stores nationwide, there ought to be some sort of lining, even if it’s not silver. But no: there’s the moron from Georgia and the useless pitchman in the White House, and the wheel-less bus is still headed over a cliff. Someone needs to take control, and not wait until November or beyond.