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Mugs for Thugs

During the pandemic, Elaine and I have taken advantage of one of the few positive results of sequestration. Being confined, we often indulge in leisurely breakfasts and discuss topics of the moment. Sometimes, we talk about every-day things, like the dazzling effect of sunshine on river currents near our home. Or, remarkably, how last winter, Philadelphia had only one inch of snow. That’s a natural lead-in to reminiscing about the time twenty-five years ago when we were away, and Philadelphia had a record snowfall of over thirty inches. Our daughter Gill, the only one at home then, tasked herself with shoveling the sidewalk and driveway. Not surprisingly, she reminds us occasionally that we still owe her for that incredible feat.

Unforced conversation flavors life by reviving the past and previewing the future. It stimulates thought in its various guises--memory, planning, appreciation, and so forth. The length of the pandemic has encouraged explorations that otherwise would never have occurred. Through it all, there has been one reliable standby always ready to be discussed over morning cereal and bagel. “Discussed” is a diplomatic term that doesn’t capture the emotion and the vitriol of those exchanges because their subject is that orange blob of a moron who’s made a mockery of the presidency over the past four years. Have I been too subtle in withholding his name? Let me provide another clue: he’s responsible for transforming the United States of America into the Un-tied States of America. Final clue: on January 6, 2021, delusional and lying as ever, he instigated a traitorous assault on Washington, a disgraceful episode never to be expunged from historical record.

Early in his term, he was simply a grotesque curiosity with an aversion to truth. Elaine and I tried frequently to understand how a crude, posturing television host had somehow landed in the Oval Office. That he had done so, I told her, convinced me that the United States was truly the land of opportunity. Besides being a congenital liar, he was a multiple cheater--financially and sexually; he was a pompous blowhard; and he was hostile to and incapable of digesting information essential to performing his duties responsibly. He cared much less about this country than about his golf game. Under his thumb, our country was frequently reduced to a satiric sit-com.

Not a moment too soon, he’s about to pack his clubs and leave for Mar-a-Lago. Prison would be a more appropriate destination, but most of the Republican Party, like slobbering lap dogs craving whatever handouts he may have to offer in the future, would shield him from justice. Who can replace the orange blob as a reliable breakfast table focus? Who, possibly, can motivate the ire and passion that have marked those discussions? Who can now ignite the emotions stimulating the appetite?

If you’re seeking an answer, I don’t have one yet. Earlier this week, I auditioned Doug Peterson, coach of the Eagles, for orchestrating the ignominious tank job to the Washington football team. But upon further review, as referees like to say, I crossed him off the list. He is simply an enabler who unquestioningly followed the dictates of his leader, the team owner. In their minds, integrity is a quaint and laughable concept. Personal gain trumps (oops) all other considerations. Actually, if Peterson left coaching, the Republican Party might find him useful. There are two or three possibilities (Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz too pathetic to be among them) to fill the soon-to-be breakfast conversation void, but so far, they seem inspiring enough for only a single meal. Still, I’m confident that some deserving miscreant will, inevitably. emerge sooner than we expect.

The country has changed dramatically in four years of seemingly endless political farce. In small ways, I have, too. I used to “take my waking slow,” easing gradually into a new day. Now, I’ve discovered that ire is the jolt of black coffee that activates the mind and spirit. That shows an ill windbag can blow some good.


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