Tough Calls

The other day I called my mother right after she’d received a text from my aunt, the aunt who not that long ago had to put my uncle in a care facility. My uncle who absolutely does not want to be in this facility. The uncle who is wearing his wife and sister to a frazzle with his rather constant, lengthy phone demands to be returned home. There are myriad reasons he can’t, and won’t ever, be able to go back home. At the top of the list are affordability — the round-the-clock care he now requires would bust the budget very shortly — and size differential. He is doing a very poor job of supporting his own weight, which is considerably more than my aunt’s, and when (not if) he falls, she would have no means of rescuing him without summoning help. Which leads right back to cost. There are many other reasons this would be a terrible, detrimental idea, and these have been enumerated, multiple times, to my uncle by both his wife and his sister. Given his personality, he was never likely to be reasonable about this in the first place, but his cognitive impairment is now quite severe, and what my mom and aunt are doing is trying to reason with a person who no longer even grasps the concept. My suggestion for my distraught mom to give to my beside-herself aunt, who has been enduring two-hour calls from my uncle at any moment of a day or night, was to stop trying to reason with unreasonableness. Blame others, I suggested: “They say you can’t come home.” And end the sentence right there. My mom was still trying to make the sentence longer, offering the reasons “they” think it’s better he stay where he is. That might make my mom feel better, but it’s not going to gain traction with someone who was likely to be obstinate and unreasonable even before he lost his sense of reason. “You can’t.” After I got off the phone I decided this is a good time for my mom to use the skills she hasn’t had to practice in decades. There was a refresher two decades ago when her grandchildren were toddlers, but the bulk of this training took place five decades ago, when her children were young and wanting to know why they couldn’t have/do/get something: “Because I said so.” It doesn’t make the toddler any happier, but it punctuates the conversation: end of discussion, we’re moving on. Most parents quickly learn: you can’t offer reason to someone who doesn’t understand it, so exercise your parental duty and decide what’s best for your child. Which brings us, of course, to the national crybaby, the one who seems more clinically certifiable by the day. The one we weren’t going to talk about anymore, but who persists in his skill as a master attention-getter. There are those children who do not get firm parental guidance, those parents who decide it’s easier to give into the baby’s ever-growing list of demands and who then, when their teenager is completely out of control, look around and wonder can be blamed for this. The Republican party has yet to figure out it is the culpable parent, and it is going to rue the days when it saw no harm in letting temper tantrums play out on a world stage. Let’s be as clear as we can possibly be, not that this has gained traction with a population whose susceptibility has now extended to the Supreme Court, where it turns out that Chief Justice Roberts is part of the pedophile ring that all Democrats everywhere belong to, when they aren’t practicing the horrific art of socialism: More than 90 judges hearing more than 60 lawsuits have tossed all but one small procedural one as completely baseless. It’s not that any of these were closely decided. Many lawsuits were bounced without hearing, and nothing lasted much longer than a day, because THERE IS NO THERE THERE. If you want to shout fraud, it needs to be directed at the Perpetrator in Chief, because his actions over the last two months have made it abundantly clear: He was a fraud. He is a fraud. That’s all he’ll ever be. He’s actually quite good at it, I have to grant him that — it’s entirely possible that he will achieve his desire to be the greatest of all time. I’m unaware of any other con artist making it to the pinnacle of American politics. So we have to give him that, but that’s about all he ought to be given. It’s all he should have ever been given, and I have to confess, I don’t understand the fear that seems to motivate about 40 percent of the American electorate and the politicians who want their votes. A few of them have figured it out, like Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. This con artist does not actually represent their values, and they see no need to enable him. They seem to have also grasped the basic tenet of dealing with a con artist: once your usefulness is gone, the con artist has no hesitation whatsoever about throwing you under the nearest bus. But this bus this particular con artist throws you under is Twitter, and that’s where I have no idea why so many people worry about being driven over by it. This is how the most pitiable ex-president to ever exist goes through life: I’m in a rage, I’m going to tell on you, bigly. And then you’ll be in trouble. Maybe in some cases it works, but if you look at this loser’s track record of endorsements, he has no magic Midas touch. Sometimes the people he endorses — like dumbass Tommy Tuberville, who, if he were ever given a citizenship test, would fail probably every question — but sometimes his endorsements sputter badly. There’s also the part where he lost the popular vote, twice. Here’s what Republicans still have yet to figure out: the more of them he rages against, the more minimized his power becomes. Once you start chanting “lock him up!” at rock-ribbed Republican officials, the phrase becomes meaningless, just something to spew into the aerosol-filled air at superspreader rallies. And while I think several Republicans cynically thought they could out-con a con artist, whom very few of them actually seem to admire or even like, they don’t seem to realize that trying to control someone who was never taught to reason and who has always gotten his way is going to end badly. Josh Hawley seems to think he can turn a mundane, pro-forma ceremony into a presidential campaign announcement (MAGA voters! I am here for you!), but today’s rancorous clashing of the not-so-Titans in the Senate may finally make Mitch McConnell realize you can’t really control the out-of-control. Then there’s today’s release of yet another “perfect” phone call made by the largest fraud of all time, where the Secretary of State of Georgia made the exact same mistake my aunt and mom keep making with my uncle. For one hour — an hour in which the rope may have unraveled enough to become a legal ensnarement for the ex-president — the secretary tried reasoning with an irrational man “who was at times incoherent,” according to those reviewing the call. The vote in Georgia was counted THREE times. The result came out the same way each time: for President-Elect Biden. The state secretary is not going to go out and rustle up 11,780 votes simply because a toddler wants him to. And at the end of an hour, his patience used up, the secretary did what he should have 58 minutes prior: he thanked the toddler for his time, and then hung up. Sometimes, that’s all you can do.

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