Things have been much too serious around here of late. Writing about massacres and insurrections isn’t a lot of fun. I’d rather tell the odd joke. That’s my goal today, to just let it rip and see where it leads.
Let’s cut this tangerine into segments Odds & Sods style.
From The Dreck of Donald Trump: We begin with the Trump Blog Fail. It’s hard to be a blogger in 2021. Building and sustaining an audience isn’t easy. It takes patience and maturity two qualities that are in short supply for an elderly toddler such as the Kaiser of Chaos. It also requires self-awareness and a sense of humor. He hasn’t got either of those either. That’s what made him a decent reality teevee host and a rotten blogger. Besides, it helps if you can write. The Impeached Insult Comedian cannot.
Perhaps it would have made it if he’d called it From The Dreck of Donald Trump and dropped the desk shtick. We’ll never know now.
It’s time for a marginally relevant musical interlude:
Tangerines are orange and so is Donald Trump. First Draft contributor Ryne Hancock calls him “The Orange Menace.”
I wonder if any prog rock types flip the name of the venerable German band and call the Darnold the Tangerine Nightmare? Beats the hell outta me.
Enough with the citrus jokes. In our next segment, I won’t squeeze the Don Lemon references dry since I usually watch MSNBC, not CNN.
Cable News Blues: I still watch too much cable news for my mental health. The cat gets alarmed if I yell at the teevee. She’s convinced it’s intended for her. Shows signs of a guilty conscience, doesn’t it? It’s a good thing I don’t watch FOX, I might throw a Coke Zero can at the tube, which would really upset Claire Trevor and make her cry like Gaye Dawn in Key Largo.
I watched Deadline White House yesterday. My countrywoman Nicholle Wallace is a good host, but she leans a bit too heavily on Never Trumpers as guests. One of my least favorite talking heads is Charlie Sykes who writes for something called The Bulwark.
I’m predisposed to dislike Sykes because he’s from Wisconsin and First Draft alumnae Athenae and Scout Prime loathe him. He also looks and sounds like a third-rate George Will with lips forever pursed in disapproval. I get it: I disapprove of him too.
Sykes was asked about Democrats’ prospects in the 2022 mid-terms. He averred that there’s a decent chance they’ll avoid the mid-term curse. I’m inclined to agree with that, so I didn’t yell at the teevee. Then he went on and said, “Democrats shouldn’t get overconfident.”
Do you know any Democrats, Charlie? They’re a bunch of worry warts. Democrats are inclined to underconfidence (is that a word?) and fretting. Lyndon Johnson used to call these folks Nervous Nellies. They’re still around 52 years after he left office.
One of the biggest worry warts on the left is Rachel Maddow. She walks around with a black cloud over her head like this guy from the L’il Abner comic strip:
Al Capp was a right-winger but he was right about self-fulfilling prophecies. I’m not sure how you pronounce Joe B’s name. He was the Coach K of his day.
Back to Rachel M. She had former Obama administration deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes on her show the other day. Ben R is also a Joe B kinda guy. His sort of extreme pessimism is Rachel’s jam.
Rhodes is right to worry about the rise of autocracy at home and abroad, but he used some extreme examples to prove his point. Extreme Examples sounds like a metal band.
At the risk of oversimplifying, Rhodes compared the path the US&A is on to those previously trod by Hungary, Russia, and China.
Anyone else notice a problem with those extreme examples?
Hungary was ruled for centuries by the autocratic and lippy Hapsburg dynasty. After losing the Great War, Hungary had a brief flirtation with democracy. That was followed by a dictator/regent Admiral Horthy who was a Nazi stooge. Then there was 45 years of Soviet imposed Communist dictatorship followed by a 15-20-year tryst with democracy. Hungary is currently ruled by an elected autocrat named Viktor Orban. How is this analogous to America?
Let’s play some more.
Russia? 300 years of the autocratic Romanov dynasty followed by the dictatorship of the proletariat then a few years of semi-freedom that was snuffed out by Putin. How is this analogous to America?
China? Thousands of years of monarchy, war lords, imperialist interventions, Chiang Kai-Shek’s dictatorship, Maoism followed by Communism with a capitalist face. How is this analogous to America?
Watching people misuse and abuse history is exhausting, especially when they get it wrong.
Thanks to forces unleashed by the failed blogger Pennywise, autocracy threatens our country. Does that make it inevitable? Of course not.
There is, however, one China analogy that works. In January 2016 Slate’s William Saletan had this to say about the soon-to-be Trumpified GOP: “The Republican party is a failed state. Donald Trump is its War Lord.”
Ben Rhodes’ Russia analogy is rushed, and his Hungary analogy is from hunger. I think KMac would describe them as Untrustable In Hungria.
A quick reminder that, as Peter O’Toole said to Omar Sharif in Lawrence Of Arabia, NOTHING IS WRITTEN.
Or did Omar say that to Peter? Beats the hell outta me.
The last word may not be entirely accurate either but it’s a Neil Finn song, so let’s go for it. The last word goes to Split Enz: