- Trump shows up: Drink
- Trump opens his mouth: Drink
- A stream of bats issue from Trump’s open mouth: Drink
The facts of John McCain’s life are not hidden. From his return from Vietnam to his death last Saturday, John McCain was a public man. Nor are those facts inconsistent. McCain’s life had a trajectory, as all ours do, but there are no sudden turns, no Great Awakenings. The man who died was the man who had lived. We knew him. He was familiar.
Yet the moment of his death has, at least for the moment, defined his life. Had he died two years ago, before the current President was chosen by the Electoral College, or had he died three years hence, after the current President was run out of the country by an angry mob, his life would have been evaluated much differently. John McCain’s life would have been evaluated for what it was, not what people wanted it to be.
In the Declaration, right after the familiar bit about unalienable rights, there’s a passage with more than a little relevance to our travails some 240 years later:
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
This provides a simple, enduring definition of what qualifies as a legitimate government: Lacking the consent of its citizens, no government can claim to rule. Anything less leads to despotism.
The United States is, by the definition of its founders, an illegitimate, despotic government. This was blindingly true at its founding: one race was enslaved, one sex denied the franchise. The high ideals of our founding were not fulfilled by their implementation.
Facts, as we know them, haven’t been around very long. It was only a hundred and fifty years ago that science, literacy, communications, and availability of written material started kicking in, providing the distribution of knowledge beyond previously limited enclaves.
It was exciting at first, knowing the world as it is, instead of what we thought it was. New discoveries! New understanding! New breakthroughs! All with the promise of more amazing things to come, soon as we got more facts under our belts. Finally, humanity was being liberated from millennia of superstition!
Yeah, funny thing about that: Folks stopped caring.
Maybe it’s because we’ve used to it.
Two of the three most influential comedians in our life are Bill Cosby and Woody Allen, which doesn’t say much for our track record. And although their falls from grace came long after we had grown creatively disappointed with each, the fact remains that our pleasure in Cosby’s early storytelling and Allen’s early movies has long since been darkly tinged.
But we can’t walk away from what shaped us. They is what they is.
And by now, we’ve also long since known the drill: When the news breaks, deal with it. You don’t want to defend the indefensible.
At least, we thought you didn’t.
What we know, as of Friday evening, is that one or more indictments have been filed against one or more people targeted by Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election.
We know nothing else. We don’t know names. We don’t know charges. The charges have been sealed, at least until we get a perp walk out of it. Which we probably won’t — prosecutorial courtesy — but a citizen can dream.
All we can do is speculate. Which, honestly, is more fun anyway.
When Spy magazine first published its fateful description of Donald Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian” thirty years ago — thirty years ago! — Trump reacted in the most Trumpian way possible: He said he knew people who knew things, and Spy would fold within a year.
Leading Spy to respond in the most Spy way possible: A monthly sidebar quoting Trump’s prediction and counting down the days, headlined “Chronicle of Our Death Foretold”.
The year ran out, nothing happened, and Spy ran a final sidebar predicting Trump’s death. And that was that.
Only it wasn’t.