Politics as Usual

On September 2, 1974, the Wall came down.

If you were around at the time, you understood the meaning at a glance. Garry Trudeau had drawn the wall in front of the White House, a reference to “stonewalling” on the Nixon tapes. Nixon resigned August 9; three weeks was the quickest a syndicated comic strip could acknowledge the event.

“Our long national nightmare is over,” Jerry Ford had said three weeks earlier, a line that might not have worn well, but felt right at the time. Watergate was consuming, consuming in a way we wouldn’t feel again for more than forty years. You couldn’t escape it.

And then it was past.

Many long national nightmares later, we have yet to escape this one, probably won’t for a couple years. But the days of utter hopelessness, the days of one elected branch of our government colluding with another to divest our republic of its sovereignty and our citizens of their liberty are coming to an end.

Nixon faced a House and Senate run by Democrats. Trump hasn’t had the pleasure of either.

We’re not there yet, and we’ve been worrying about what shenanigans might be pulled in the waning days of the 115th Congress, but the lame-duck session has yet to bear casualties. Meanwhile, Democrats are already squabbling over their incoming leadership, and—

Well, it’s refreshing, really. Familiar. Nice and messy, the way it was before the storm hit.

Politics as usual.

The problems laid bare over the past two years remain, of course — not just the traitors holding high offices, but the illegitimacy of those offices themselves, the very structure of our national government as a perversion of the consent of the governed. The ferocity of those who hold power to deny their own citizens the right to veto that power.

And, well, the citizens themselves, some 40 percent of them, more or less, the White Tribe that is the only tribe that matters in America.

We’ve been reading Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail this week — not for the first time — written as the Watergate burglary happened and the story first broke, but not yet the story it would become.

Of the many stories Hunter Thompson tells, one sticks out in this moment: George Wallace, running in the Democratic primaries, winning Florida, and making inroads in the still-industrial Midwest. Wallace had a base, not just Southern racists, but working-class whites who wanted “their” country back, and Thompson identities in Wallace’s stump manner something no other politician could project:

“The root of the Wallace magic was a cynical, showbiz instinct for knowing exactly which issues would whip a hall full of beer-drinking factory workers into a frenzy — and then doing exactly that, by howling down from the podium that he had an instant, overnight cure for all their worst afflictions.”

If that’s not familiar enough, there’s more:

“The ugly truth is that Wallace had never even bothered to understand the problems — much less come up with any honest solutions — but ‘the Fighting Little Judge’ has never lost much sleep from guilt feelings about his personal credibility gap.”

But George Wallace could never break through to the broader American public. It took a former Hollywood actor to nail that trick, and, a generation or two later, a prime-time game-show host to perfect it.

And that’s what we’ll still be left with, after the nightmare ends, after the wall comes down, after politics as usual resumes, the deepest problem we face, the most enduring, the most intractable:

Ourselves.

13 comments:

8:07 pm • Saturday • November 17, 2018

Mango Mussolini’s first visit to California since he was elected was, as expected, a shitshow. How Gov-Elect Good Hair and Jerry Brown could keep semi-straight faces during Drumpf’s diatribe about raking forest floors is beyond me.

12:22 pm • Sunday • November 18, 2018

@SanFranLefty: I give the firefighters credit for not punching him in the face.

But at least he’s revealed the Finns as world-class trollers. You owe it to yourselves to check out #haravointi on Twitter.

1:45 pm • Wednesday • November 21, 2018

Scrolling through a post the other day re: Vanky’s Terror Risotto Recipes, there’s tweets from the usual suspects AND Morgan Fairchild, who chimed in with a link to Rawstory!

Wow, even nice white lady pop culture divas are reading Rawstory; Shitler really has radicalized more people than ISIS.

4:19 pm • Wednesday • November 21, 2018

Soon to be happy turkey day.

Universe help us all.

8:29 pm • Wednesday • November 21, 2018

Giving thanks for NorCal’s rain, glorious rain. First day in two weeks that I haven’t had to wear a face mask out in public. Air is cleaner.

12:15 pm • Thursday • November 22, 2018

@SanFranLefty:
That’s good to hear that the air quality is better but does nothing for the disaster that Trump and gang would rather blame on liebruls.

12:23 pm • Thursday • November 22, 2018

Wishing you all a happy and restful holiday; I’m thankful for you and that we have each other to help us stay in the sane lane (with temporary detours).

I’m in Houston spending Thanksgiving with a friend from undergrad. Incredibly, I didn’t burst into flames upon setting foot in Texas; must be some of that residual Beto magic.

All the hugs and muchos bendiciónes.

Aside: On the flight I sat next to a 21 year-old college kid writing a term paper on CaliguBush’s (insane, incompetent, destructive) foreign policy. OMFG can you even imagine??? That’s like trying to make sense of Soviet psychiatry, and I pity the professor that’s gonna read it. I was tempted to chime in, but thought I’d just come off as a cranky dad. What in the world are kids gonna write about this period in ten or twenty years, yeesh.

12:30 pm • Thursday • November 22, 2018

I’m taking out my Thanksgiving arguments on Facebook.

12:34 pm • Thursday • November 22, 2018

@¡Andrew!: That kid would be equivalent to me growing up during Vietnam. I have no idea what sense I would have made of it for a 1980 term paper, other than the war being an utter disaster.

1:08 pm • Thursday • November 22, 2018

@nojo: Yeah, you’d think at this point that people would be slightly less stupid about being conned into foreign wars. Oops.

2:22 pm • Thursday • November 22, 2018

@nojo: Then you would like this — Eric Thomas is a gem: Thanksgiving Dishes That Will Help You Passively Aggressively Bring Up Politics

2:59 pm • Thursday • November 22, 2018

@SanFranLefty: Never really had that problem, but then we never had Birchers or Nixonites in the family growing up. Maybe a couple of times I’d notice that an uncle was more conservative than my dad, but nobody insisted on a point — just say it and let it go.

Until the year my cousin married the Libertarian.

Total asshole. He wouldn’t let it go. He had to win, not just play. He didn’t ruin the day as such, but man did I want to crucify him at Hearts that night.

4:28 pm • Friday • November 23, 2018

@nojo:
My US Amercia uncle has turned into a Trumper. Didn’t realize how racist he was till he blamed black folks (like Barrack Obama) for taking up all the spots instead of his Georgetown Prep educated now ambulance chasing son at Hahvahd Law who ended up at Stanfud instead. Boo fucking hoo.

My mom hangs up on him now when he calls infrequently to brag about his other son who is a hedge fund manager and complains about Socialized medicine.

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