In his epic poem, The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot called April the cruelest month. I beg to differ. In 2021, the cruelest month is December.
Just when we thought we were safe from the pandemic, the Omicron variant reared its ugly head. It feels like the bad old days before the vaccines. So much for ending my hermit ways.
Letting your guard down is dangerous: a friend was infected at an event I decided to skip. He told me it was the only time he’d let his guard down. The good news is that he’ll be okay. The bad news is that he was terribly ill for several days. Oh my, Omicron.
As our readers know, I’m not a worst-case scenario guy. I’ve made an exception for the pandemic. Cock-eyed optimism is potentially lethal, especially in a country overrun by anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers. To quote another Eliot poem:
Let us go then, you and I,When the evening is spread out against the skyLike a patient etherized upon a table;Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,The muttering retreatsOf restless nights in one-night cheap hotelsAnd sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:Streets that follow like a tedious argumentOf insidious intentTo lead you to an overwhelming questionOh, do not ask, “What is it?”Let us go and make our visit.
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was written in 1915 before the Spanish Influenza pandemic. But that passage seems eerily premonitive.
It’s unclear how severe or long-lasting the Omicron variant will be. It’s clearly the most contagious with break-through infections popping up everywhere. I hope that those who say Omicron is milder are right. But I’ve placed my optimism in a blind trust alongside Mike Pence’s manhood. Oh my, Omicron.
I’ve always been more of a prose than a poetry person, but I like Eliot’s work, his abominable politics aside. The Waste Land was dedicated to his friend and fellow poet Ezra Pound. An admirer of Mussolini, Pound went full-tilt Fascist. Ugh, just ugh.
There’s another reason I’m proclaiming December the cruelest month: Joe Manchin’s announcement that he will not support the Build Back Better bill. To twist the knife, he made the statement on Fox News. Initially, I was inclined to write it off as more smack talk since Manchin cannot STFU.
It was impossible to dismiss it as loose talk after the White House issued a statement that accused Manchin of negotiating in bad faith:
On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the President, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities. While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all. Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground. If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.
Politely worded but still strong stuff. If the BBB patient was “etherized on a table” Manchin smothered it with a pillow. It might as well be supplied by the My Pillow Guy because this latest move only benefits the GOP.
As much as I hate to say it, I disagree with those who are calling for Manchin’s expulsion from the Democratic caucus. He deserves it but that would make Mitch McConnell majority leader. Why add insult to injury? That’s why the Fifty-Fifty senate sucks the big one.
Joe Manchin is a captive of the inside-the-beltway Conventional Wisdom. The CW is usually wrong but rarely as spectacularly as it is now. The worshippers of the CW continue to treat the party of the Dipshit Insurrection as if it were a normal political party.
These Washington insiders remind me of the German royalists and industrialists who thought they could control Nazi excesses or of the British aristocrats who thought appeasement would placate Hitler. The world paid a terrible price for a CW that turned out to be so horribly wrong. Feeding the Nazi beast only made it hungrier.
If Joe Manchin were a cultured man, I would suspect him of wanting us to substitute his name for that of a famous artist in this Prufrock passage:
In the room the women come and goTalking of Michelangelo.
Manchin not only represents a coal state, he’s protecting his own pocketbook by euthanizing the BBB. There’s a chance that elements of the bill can be passed by Congress, but that’s all the hope I’ve got for you.
Merry Fucking Christmas from Joe Manchin.
Repeat after me: December is the cruelest month. Oh my, Omicron.
Back to The Waste Land. This pessimistic post has gone on long enough to evoke Eliot’s refrain: “HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME.”
In an attempt to dispel the gloomy spell cast by this post, “let us go then you and I” and give Yes the last word: