The Man Who Came to Dinner

Lynn’s physical therapy started Monday, cramming one more thing into jam-packed mornings. I have big ambitions but not so much on the follow-through. Blogging may remain intermittent, no matter my intentions.

Still from the movie The Man Who Came to Dinner.

In a play first produced in 1939 (made into a movie in 1942), a radio celebrity sets out to visit a well-off family in Ohio, intending to stay the duration of one meal. Before he even makes it into the house, Sheridan “Sherry” Whiteside slips on ice, injuring his hip, and is brought into the house, where he remains for his recovery and well beyond.

As summarized on Wikipedia, “Confined to the house for a month, Sherry drives his hosts mad by viciously insulting them, monopolizing their house and staff, running up large phone bills, and receiving many bizarre guests, including paroled convicts.”

Is anyone besides me sensing an analogy here?

Today should be a perfunctory penultimate step in ridding ourselves of the scourge occupying the People’s House in Washington, D.C. — but we all know that’s not going to be the way it works today. It might not even end today, because why do something quickly when we can draw it out as excruciatingly painfully as possible?

But as the days go by, I think it’s beginning to set in to most of the neighborhood, if not the greater country, that someone has overstayed his welcome. The visitor’s refusal to go isn’t nearly as funny as it was in the Kaufman-Hart play, and may turn out to be far more costly to Mitch McConnell than the perhaps-now-minority-leader of the senate calculated it would be back in November when he decided to indulge someone’s fantasy that the general election turned out differently than the paper trail said.

Let’s be clear: there is a paper trail. The high use of mail-in ballots, including for every Coloradan who voted, means there’s a verifiable way to determine outcomes for all races. A Republican member of the House from Texas pressed this issue on Sunday, and with only two exceptions, all members of the House said the representative races, all of them on the exact same ballots as the presidential race, were counted correctly. How you end up with fraud on the same ballots that aren’t fraudulent has yet to be articulated.

(And, if you’re ramping up to claim fraud in the Georgia run-off, as the most prominent fraudster already has, let us note that there were three races on that ballot, and as of this morning, Republican Lauren “Bubba” McDonald has a 1.6 percent lead for the Public Service Commission District 4 seat. When you can cogently explain how fraud was perpetrated in two races but not a third on the same paper ballots, I’ll listen. Until then, talk to the hand.)

At this point, nothing even raises our eyebrows anymore, which is worrisome because we’re talking about the foundational principles that define our country, but let’s pause a moment and see exactly what allowing our guest to overstay his welcome hath wrought:

The streets of our nation’s capitol are seething this morning with armed insurrectionists — called there by someone purporting to be the president of the United States.

Angry people with apparently no facility to distinguish between propaganda and legitimate news sources screamed “traitor” at a former candidate for the highest office in the land, as Mitt Romney boarded his flight to D.C. for today’s anything-but-pro-forma acceptance of the results of the electoral college. Not because Sen. Romney plans to subvert this process that has been in place going back more than two centuries, but because he won’t.

The most sycophantic vice president of all time (see? There are some superlatives that can be applied to this administration, although I’m not sure they’ll welcome the ones they end up with) has probably spent the better part of two months now torn between whether it’s better to kiss someone’s fat white ass or follow the rule of law. Why this is even a consideration I don’t know.

(Major Garrett, head of CBS’ Washington Bureau, who came to CBS from Fox, was absolutely furious this morning that someone might be trying to decide between loyalty to one man versus the Constitution and the rule of law. “I have never seen this, and I hope never to see it again,” he said in a measured tone that didn’t quite conceal his outrage.)

And, in better news for some of us if not Mitch McConnell, ruby-red Georgia now has voted for a Democrat for president, its first black senator, along with yet another white man, but likely one with a D behind his name. This, while not giving President-elect Biden (a moderate his entire life) carte blanche to drive the liberal superhighway straight into socialism, does make it easier for him to get the cabinet and judges he wants.

Some have speculated this this narrow Senate majority paves the way for the moderates, which ought to include both Colorado senators, to move to the forefront. On the whole, I think that’s the best bet for the country right now, although I for one am very tired of being told I need to understand angry, racist voters who can’t listen to an ounce of reason. When is someone going to tell them they need to understand me?

The actions being contemplated for today by a huge number of Republicans in the House and what one columnist (a proud Republican until 2016) is calling “the Sedition Caucus” in the Senate, whereby they reject the will of the people and attempt to impose their own to pander to this minority of voters, is starting to alarm several conservatives, including Colorado’s most conservative representative. (The two other Republicans from Colorado, including my Glock-toting representative, plan to take part in this travesty.)

Think about this: in the past 32 years — three decades! — there is only one time (out of eight) that the People have selected a Republican for president. The Electoral College has chosen all other Republicans. So now — now that their guest of choice has trampled all over the living room — some of them are starting to worry that their own actions taken on behalf of this delusional guest may lead to the destruction of the only thing propping them up in the land’s highest office.

There’s only so much gerrymandering and reliance on the courts to keep from seating lawfully-elected state senators from Pennsylvania (which so far hasn’t worked) one party can do to maintain power. Here’s an idea: try policies that people like. Then you might not have to work so hard at voter suppression.

Columnist David Von Drehle, who seems to comfortably straddle that middle ground that many Americans would like to be in, noted yesterday that this is a Cult of One, and that all this posturing by pretenders to the throne such as Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz will be for naught. They may entertain the troops, but they’re never going to have their devotion.

Hawley, Cruz and the other 4,000 candidates who are already running for president 2024 (I didn’t think election cycles could get any longer, but apparently I was wrong), may feel like it’s worthwhile to invite Sheridan Whiteside into their home, but as they look at the carnage piling up, they ought to remember how the play ends (spoiler alert): Whiteside, his “dinner” having lasted over a month and nothing likely to ever be the same again, finally departs his hosts’ house — only to promptly slip on the ice. The curtain goes down as he is being carted back inside.

There are those guests who overstay their welcome — and then there are the ones you can never get rid of. While it’s quite clear to more than half the country who we’ve had to deal with, the rest have yet to realize just how abused their hospitality has been.

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