Every once in a while, I sit down in front of the computer screen with no fixed idea in my mind as to what I’m going to write about. The screen looms in front of me like a football field covered with snow. It is dispiriting when the one person I wanted to consign to the trash bin of yesterday’s news is still so prominent in the national consciousness. I suppose that it was a masterpiece of wishful thinking to believe he would fade gently into the past.
The ringmaster of the political circus we have watched for the past four years has pulled up stakes and moved to Florida. I made a lackluster attempt to register my relief by trying to not mention his name again. It was a vow as futile as not mentioning the Chicago fire when you are sitting in the smoking rubble, an analogy that is appropriate on many levels.
I have heard a lot of speculation as to how much time it will take to undo the damage that has been done to this nation by the last administration. I think we should bear in mind that, despite a concerted effort on the part of our late, unlamented president to bring the country down to the morally and ethically corrupt level he has always operated on, he wasn’t particularly successful even with the unwavering cooperation of members of a political entity that once held itself up to be the Family Values Party and the willingness of millions of American citizens to blind themselves to his countless abuses of power because the economy seemed to be thriving and the cruelties and the gross ineptitude hadn’t touched them — yet.
As Meryl Streep so eloquently put it, what he ultimately did was make us realize “how fragile democracy is.”
The point really is not so much how much time it will take to undo the damage, but the fact that a substantial majority of voters in 2020 recognized the peril, allowing the nation to embark on our trek down the road that will lead to a restoration of justice, civility, and decency in our government and, hopefully, inspire a sense of moral redemption for America in the eyes of the world. President Biden has already restored domain over the various departments in the government to dedicated professionals and jettisoned the flotsam of political hacks, bumbling amateurs like Ben Carson, and entitled dilatants like Betsy DeVos, who buy their way into high level posts.
The impeachment drama has concluded in Washington. As he did with the riots, its central character remained a comfortable distance offstage, seething about inept representation, reportedly a result of too many competent attorneys who were either vested with integrity or worried about ever getting paid. His new role as “mayor” of Mar-a-Lago is an incarnation that his lawyers believe might allow him to remain in the gaudy resort after a number of local people complained about the adverse impact upon the character of the neighborhood — not to mention property values.
The trial itself was like reading an Agatha Christie mystery backwards. We knew the conclusion before the first chapter was read, the only difference being that Ms. Christie saw to it that her villains got what was coming to them. I very much doubt that this particular culprit will, at least in this instance. He has a longstanding history of getting away with things. But there are a lot of sequels waiting to be published.
Despite the horrifying videos of armed MAGA terrorists beating police officers and inflicting destruction upon one of the most hallowed buildings in the country after a sustained campaign by the then president of the United States to encourage the insurrection, all but seven members of the Republican Party in the Senate remained unmoved. After four years of mollycoddling a self-obsessed tyrant, why should anyone be surprised?
But where does that leave the simple concept of justice received? What does that say about the value of the life of Brian Sicknick, the police officer who died defending the Capitol? What does that say about the brutal callousness of a man who can watch the carnage unfold on a television screen and not even pick up a phone in an attempt to stop it; who was, according to other people in the White House, delighted with the chaos and destruction on behalf of what has come to be known as the Big Lie?
It is worth noting that Republicans, hesitant to assign the responsibility for traitorous acts to overturn a duly held election that resulted in the death of a police officer, were eager to eject Bill Clinton from office for his sordid little sin with a White House intern. Hypocrisy has always been a major component of the GOP’s notion of what constitutes freedom and patriotism. It is also worth noting that many of the so-called patriots who participated in the insurrection are now blaming Trump for deceiving them, stark evidence that their commitment to the great cause was as deep as a mud puddle in the Sahara.
And, as Hillary Clinton pointed out, many of the senators who are eager to minimize the president’s culpability in the death and destruction were complicit in instigating the riot.
I recently qualified for the second wave of the COVID-19 shots which means, among a host of other things, that my advanced age very likely preludes my being around when (and if) the Republican Party is able to resurrect the respected position it once commanded in the country. It has now consigned itself to a future of chipping away at voting rights, capitalizing on racial and religious intolerance, sneering at science, invoking fear and exploiting irrational anger, and maintaining the white status quo. The specter of a twice impeached president, however, taints the air around the Grand Old Party like swamp gas.
Maybe someday, like the mythical Phoenix, the GOP will rise from the ashes. Hell, Chicago did.