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CSotD: Smile for awhile and let’s be jolly

I suppose Michael de Adder (Ind) sums it up best: We’ve gone off the rails and Dear Leader continues to sit there tweeting away.

The question now being not so much “So what?” as “Now what?”

 

Yesterday, I joked about an Oprah-style rally where everyone who attended got a pardon, and Clay Bennett (CTFP) jokes about a photocopier simply running off pardons indiscriminately.

If only we were right. If Trump were simply handing out pardons at random, to all comers, it might fit in with his bizarre resistance to the Covid Relief Bill, which seems aimed at making him look like a nice guy, despite screwing all the Republicans who have supported him for four years.

 

Alas, as Clay Jones (Ind) expresses it, there’s nothing all that puzzling at work in Dear Leader’s most recent batch of pardons, as long as you understand the difference between Ebenezer Scrooge and Donald Trump.

Scrooge’s twisted personality was a response to the loneliness and disappointment of his young life, and once he was called to reflect upon his childhood sorrow, he embraced what Jacob Marley had told him:

Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business: charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence were all my business. 

For the first year or two of his reign, I tried to understand Trump in those terms, seeing a young boy with a difficult personality whose parents, rather than working to understand him, rejected him and shipped him off to military school while allowing his siblings to grow up at home.

But there was no Fan, no Fezziwig, no Belle, and, most of all, no indication of a lonely, disappointed young man who tried to avoid falling prey to the abyss.

 

Rather, we had a young man who sought his father’s approval by entering into the family business, becoming, as David Horsey (Seattle Times) expresses it, the moral and tactical equivalent of a Mafia don.

As Dr. Johnson put it, we should knock him down first and pity him later.

 

Benjamin Slyngstad (Ind) builds on that Mafia imagery by pointing out that Trump’s latest round of pardons appear to be distributed to those who have come to him with respect and called him Godfather.

It’s easy enough to understand why Dear Leader would pardon Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, who were part of his crew.

It’s not so easy to bring in the four Blackwater thugs who slaughtered Iraqi civilians for no apparent reason, until you realize that Blackwater is connected to Erik Prince and, slightly less directly, to Betsy Prince DeVos, his sister and one of Trump’s capos.

Scrooge recoiled at how his lack of kindness had harmed Tiny Tim, but Trump is utterly unmoved by the notion that nine-year-old Ali Kinani had his head blown apart by the people Trump has pardoned.

At the end of their respective movies, Scrooge repented and bought a turkey for the Cratchit family, while Michael Corleone lied to his wife and closed the door on the one bridge to decency left in his life.

And here’s another difference: We’ve made media heroes of Michael Corleone and Tony Soprano and others of their cold-hearted ilk, which pretty much explains where we’re at with regard to Donald Trump, who we elected once and who some 74 million of us wanted to elect again.

Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon at the end of Watergate, but, while Watergate was part of a system that included the abuses of the FBI and CIA uncovered by the Church Committee, those various horrors could be addressed with corrective legislation. (Which we later undid, but hush.)

Half of Nixon’s corrupt administration were headed for jail, and pursuing him would have been more an act of revenge than of justice, particularly since his response to the defeat — spontaneous or quietly negotiated — was to fade from view, only emerging years later for the David Frost interview and a self-serving book that nobody read.

Trump won’t fade, and today’s situation is more like what the Union faced in the wake of the Civil War.

It’s interesting to ponder what might have happened, had Lincoln lived, but we wound up in a situation where Reconstruction was both necessary and insufficient.

It had to happen, but it didn’t work, and, more than a century and a half later, we’re still burdened with racism, with voter suppression, with military bases named for traitors and with arguments over flags and statues.

I agree with both Philip Rotner at the Bulwark and James Fallows at Atlantic, that Biden needs to step back and not unleash the federal government on the previous administration. There is too little to be gained, given the obvious result of inflaming our divided nation.

Not that I wouldn’t like to watch the Southern District of New York take the son of a bitch out behind the barn. I hope they do.

But we, as a nation, need to chill and rebuild, not for our sake but for the sake of our grandchildren.

Meanwhile, can we please rebuild Christmas?

 

Gary Varvel (Creators) complains that the money to aid families comes out of the common purse, along with the money for building bombers and paying Secret Service members to hang out at private golf clubs.

Feeding children isn’t free, whether they’re in their homes or stuck in cages.

Let’s set priorities before we quibble over budgets.

 

And Matt Bors (Daily Kos) raises the relevant issue of whether these Congressional one-percenters have any idea how little $600 is?

(For instance)

One can only hope the voters in Georgia know how inadequate is the small change being tossed to us by passing royalty.

 

And Dana Summers (Tribune) gets the entire point of the Grinch story backwards, failing to see that, as Seuss said, Christmas isn’t about things and that the Grinch couldn’t steal Christmas from a spiritually healthy society of Whos.

Or, to put it another way, “God rest ye, merry gentlemen! Let nothing you dismay!”

 

Even if the tree looks the way Steve Breen (Creators) draws it . . .

 

. . . we can still see it the way Joe Heller (Ind) depicts it.

 

It simply depends on your heart and not, as Jeff Stahler (AMS) warns, your tribal loyalties.

That is, it’s a matter of what you want, and how much you want it.

 

Community Comments

#1 Jerry
December/24/2020
@ 7:38 am

Long time reader – thoroughly enjoy and hope you’re having as good a holiday as is possible.

Not to be pedantic, and perhaps I missed the intended humour, but isn’t the real line ‘God rest ye merry, gentlemen’ (noting the placement of the comma)?

#2 Mark Jackson
December/24/2020
@ 11:31 am

Merry Christmas, Mike.

#3 Brad Walker
December/24/2020
@ 12:38 pm

Too little to be gained?

If an incipient future Trump feels punishment is certain and impending, I wouldn’t call that too little.

#4 Steven Bridgeland
December/24/2020
@ 1:03 pm

Merry Christmas. Enjoyed you all year. My favorite holiday story line this year was Wallace the Brave. Funny, character driven and no holiday tropes. Each day was funny.

#5 Mike Peterson
December/24/2020
@ 3:33 pm

Ouch — right about that comma, Jerry.

And Brad, if future crooks contemplated the results of getting caught, capital punishment would have eliminated murder centuries ago. They don’t. Never have, never will.

The Wallace story was brilliant.

And back atcha, Mark (and everyone)

#6 Mary McNeil
December/24/2020
@ 4:44 pm

Thanks for all the good you’ve promoted this year, Mike.

Your Civil War comment made it clear that the Trumpettes have the new Lost Cause.

#7 Kip Williams
December/24/2020
@ 8:51 pm

Merry Christmas, and thanks for this column! I don’t mean this particular day’s entry–all of them.

#8 Ian Christian
December/25/2020
@ 4:07 am

Merry Christmas to you Mike!

(But you have a comma in the wrong place. It’s “God rest ye merry, gentlemen” but don’t worry, it’s a common mistake and even crops up in carol books.)

#9 Denny Lien
December/25/2020
@ 10:10 am

May all the Gentlemen and Gentlewomen on this list Rest Merry.

#10 Bob Crittenden
December/25/2020
@ 1:08 pm

Merry Christmas to all the readers, and especially to Mike. Stay safe and stay sane. (There are many examples of insanity daily in comments on editorial comics.)

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