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CSotD: Jigsaw Puzzle

I like Jeff Boyer (Albany TU)‘s take on today’s inauguration: Joe Biden’s got one hell of a task ahead.

And he’s only got about a year to accomplish it, because, by then, the build-up to the midterm elections will be starting and, if every single piece isn’t precisely in place, he’ll lose any chance of getting anything done.

The extra challenge being that, unlike standard jigsaw puzzles, this one doesn’t come out to a nice rectangular shape and so there aren’t any pieces with smooth sides to provide a starting place.

 

Jen Sorensen (The Nib) asks an intelligent question, which is, what do we do with the traitors, seditionists and disloyal people who have made things so fraught?

And the answer is, “I don’t know,” for which I blame John Wilkes Booth, because I’ll bet Lincoln had a plan but Andrew Johnson sure didn’t, and so the only thing we have to work with is an example of something that

did.

not.

work.

Of course, if we’d had a plan that worked then, we wouldn’t be in this situation now, but that’s more “alternative history” than political theory. What we know is that a series of hangings embitters the survivors while a blanket amnesty simply emboldens the sonsabitches.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting on a 12-hour Twitter ban for having, a few days before the January 6 uprising, suggested that those protesters be greeted with the same tear gas and rubber bullets that were used against the peaceful BLM crowds.

I don’t know if the ban on sarcasm is the last vestige of the Old Regime or a continuation into the New, but you’d better watch yourself.

Which leaves us at the junction of a

Juxtaposition of Classical Asses

The first is Aesop’s fable of the dying lion, cited here before, in which a donkey kicks the feeble old beast, an action that takes no bravery but shows a lack of class.

The second is the story of the donkey who, finding a lion’s skin, puts it on and parades about frightening everyone until he makes the mistake of opening his mouth and revealing his true nature.

Which is a little confusing in the current situation, since Donald John Trump was no majestic lion and, in a fair and wise world, would have fallen under that second fable but, you will notice, did not.

To a significant portion of our fellow Americans, what came out of his mouth was just what they wanted to hear.

Still, whatever he is or appears to be, the triumphalism of a lot of today’s political cartoons seems to fall under the category of kicking a dying lion.

Which you may feel is your right after four difficult years and I wouldn’t disagree, but it only makes assembling that jigsaw puzzle more difficult.

Particularly if conservative cartoonists are suddenly defending the system.

Mike Lester (WPWG), for instance, now suggests that refusal to accept the results of the election is evidence of senility.

 

And Gary Varvel (Creators) decries the military presence in the nation’s capital, which is, after all, a response to the seditious violence set into motion by the outgoing president who, lest we forget, had previously expressed a desire to hold Soviet-style military parades in the streets of Washington.

Granted, Obama’s caution against “spiking the ball in the end zone” didn’t stop attacks from bitter opponents, but when you have a chance to win over a few of those people, triumphant celebration seems problematic.

 

Walt Handelsman (AMS) might have foregone the on-screen captions with this one, but I’m not going to be quite that picky: I like his celebration of the system, which is a reminder that going by the rules is not only classically American but is a conservative virtue.

The piece also reminds me of how I felt when Nixon resigned: It was a victory for the system, but it was more of a relief than a moment of triumph.

Similarly, I’m awfully glad Trump is gone, and I agree with Nancy Pelosi that four more years might have sunk our democracy entirely.

But there’s no cause for cheering in this. In fact, the only sound that’s left, after the ambulances go, is Cinderella sweeping up on Desolation Row.

Our goal needs to be putting together that jigsaw puzzle, before it rains any more.

 

The other part of this rebuilding is of our image abroad, and, drawing from Singapore, Heng Kim Song echoes a dread a lot of Americans have had, that our four years of chaos and division — and particularly these last toxic weeks — have been of comfort and amusement to our international opponents.

Three of the four dictators shown here have played an active role in poking Trump to make him over-react, while his own unnecessary poking of Iran was a sign of the lack of vision within his circle of advisors.

They are not simply laughing at our near-collapse out of schadenfreude but are celebrating their abilities in helping to bring it about.

We may find some sense of modified rapture in the bizarre contribution Trump made by undermining GOP efforts in Georgia: By handing over a 50/50 Senate with a Democratic tiebreaker in the chair, he gave Biden a chance of getting us back into the Paris agreements and even the Iran nuclear treaty.

It isn’t a time machine or even a reset button, but it would help.

 

But our relationship with the world is a lot more complex than that, including at some very silly and apparently trivial levels: I’m used to David Rowe (Financial Review) having an ear to the ground on our affairs, both foreign and domestic, but it gives me a case of the heebie-jeebies to having someone literally on the other side of the globe making Seinfeld references.

I’m okay with apologizing for Paris and Iran, but … geez louise … I am so very, very sorry for our worldwide anticultural hegemony …

Shit.

Between Rowe and First Dog on the Moon (Guardian) it’s pretty clear we’ve lost Australia and that only a small slice of it is Trump’s fault.

 

(He gets extra credit for “irregardless”)

 

Community Comments

#1 Fred King
January/20/2021
@ 11:43 am

I’m still looking for a cartoon of someone removing a “Baby on Board” sticker from Air Force One. Anybody find one?

#2 Mark Jackson
January/20/2021
@ 12:19 pm

Lester doubled down on the “they will muzzle all the perfectly reasonable expressions of doubt about the election” theme in today’s Counterpoint mailing:

https://counterpoint.substack.com/p/i-will-to-the-best-of-my-ability

Sigh.

And Greg Abbott clutched his pearls as the suggestion that any member of his National Guard might be tempted to inappropriate action based on such a doubt:

https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/534791-texas-governor-calls-fbi-vetting-of-national-guard-troops-offensive

#3 Derald K Porter
January/21/2021
@ 4:26 pm

I had to go back and look for the “irregardless.” (Chef’s kiss) And BTW I too am a petty, juvenile revenge-monger.

#4 parnell nelson
January/22/2021
@ 7:58 pm

I don’t think that I am a revenge enthusiast but there is a little dude in a dark recess of my brain who believes that the people who tried to turn the U.S. into a banana republic should find out what happens to folks who are on the wrong side of a failed banana fana overthrow attempt. “Here is your blindfold, El Governorissimo Rudy…” Well, I guess maybe I’ll get some ice cubes for this big tall glass of revenge after all…

#5 parnell nelson
January/22/2021
@ 8:03 pm

So I guess I can’t delete my mistakes here either…sorry for the repetitive repetition.

#6 D. D. Degg
January/22/2021
@ 8:06 pm

Parnell: Removed the first three drafts and left the last.
Hope that is okay with you.

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