Thursday, January 21, 2021

Post-Inaugural Thoughts

In a post-inaugural interview, Congressman James Clyburn quoted Alexis de Tocqueville: America is great because its people are good. If its people cease to be good, America will cease to be great. That it was an inaccurate paraphrase of a misattributed quote is beside the point: in recent years, more clearly in recent weeks, we’ve seen the truth of it.

Trump’s insurrectionists who trashed the Capital, whose internet sanctum, Parler, is now hosted by Russia, aren’t good people. Nor are the politicians and media propagandists whose outrageous lies they believed. The result is a stain on America: A Green-Zone inauguration secured by thousands of troops; streets cleared; the National Mall – if movingly decorated – empty; the building still bearing wounds.

Addressing the tens who showed up to see him off, the blame-worthy “president” was absent; the first since 1869 to abscond from that confirmation of enduring democracy. Trump et uxor chose not to welcome the Bidens to the White House, nor did they join his predecessors and successor at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Amazing gracelessness.

Exiting, Trump, who only started domestic wars, pardoned a parade of perfidious politicians, tax-evaders (including a Fox spouse), and secret-keeping cronies. Among the excused, though, were some who deserved it, including several who’d received harsh sentences for minor drug crimes, mostly marijuana-related. Good for him. (For those whose lips are forming the words “Clinton” and “Marc Rich,” virtually all Democrats were outraged.)

Showcasing the scamanality of his “presidency,” Trump’s penultimate act was reversing his own “swamp-draining” order preventing his hires from lobbying, for five years; they’re now free as he to access the grift. “So long, suckers,” should have been his final words.

While Trump bunkers at Mar-a-Lago, we turn to President Joe Biden, recalling the astounding difference between his and Trump’s inaugural words.

Trump inherited a soaring economy, history’s longest run of rising employment, decreasing budget deficits, nuclear containment of Iran, and the tail ends of wars President Obama didn’t start but from which he was trying to disengage. Yet Trump spoke darkly about “American carnage,” a weirdly dystopian view of a country that was, but is no longer, surging forward; a speech foreshadowing the cascade of lies for which his “presidency” would become known, ultimately leading to the insurrection from which we’re trying to emerge. 

(If only one is feasible, let Congress invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment rather than finishing impeachment.)

In contrast, President Biden heads a nation deeply divided between fact and fiction; reeling from a pandemic so poorly managed by a mocking “president” that hundreds of thousands died unnecessarily, and the delivery of vaccines for which has been a cavalcade of disinformation and absent planning. Businesses closed by the thousands, staggering unemployment, people struggling to maintain food and shelter.

Yet, not ignoring the source and implications of the insurrection, he spoke with optimism and words of healing; reminders of what can be done when Americans cooperate with one another (already falling on many senatorial and rightwing media deaf ears.) Without specifying Trump’s biggest lie, he called for a return to truth -- tough for Tucker, Sean, et. al., whose success depends on inflammatory untruth. It’s doubtful they’ll reassess their complicity. (One sane Foxian approved.) 

Opposite to “I alone can fix it,” acknowledging it’ll take all of us, President Biden enumerated the challenges: racism, domestic terrorism, climate change (we’re back in the Paris Accords!), the economy. And, of course, the pandemic (we’re staying in the WHO!) Which is not to say he, or anyone, expects Congressional kumbaya; just a remembrance of commonality when arguing. It’s happened before, if so long ago it seems like an illusion.

Afterward, Kevin McCarthy, leader of the Republican insurrection in Congress, mouthed pleasant words. Likewise Mitch McConnell, who, after four years of catalyzing Trump’s destruction of Constitutional separation, comity, economic sanity, trust in elections, and pretty much everything else, had just, belatedly, acknowledged it was Trump’s lies that led to the attempted coup. Action, not words, are what’s needed now.

She gave no inaugural speech, but Kamala Harris’ presence was powerful. So many welcome firsts. The tie-breaker in an evenly-divided Senate, she might become the most consequential VP, ever.

Sincerity. It’s said if you can fake that, you’ve got it made. Wordlessly holding a never-read Bible after gassing peaceful demonstrators, Trump faked it and seventy-four-million Americans bought in. You can’t fake the sincerity we heard in eighty-one-million-vote-getting President Biden’s speech. If we can’t all agree with his plans, let’s agree on that. And, with a little cooperation, see what happens.


  1. Great words as always Dr. Schwab. It was really nice yesterday morning waking up and not immediately turning on the news to see what new insanity had occurred overnight. I have a hunch, the Republicans are going to attempt to go back to their Obama era stances on practically everything. The deficit is too high, etc. Thanks again for keeping this column going and always making it so valuable. I look forward to this first thing every Friday morning.

    1. I slept more soundly the last two nights than any in the last four years! I anticipate more.

  2. Restating my observation of years ago, and repeated often: I used to think Republicans were good people with bad ideas. Now I know, they are bad people. I will add that now I also know they are un-American in the most basic way; they do not believe in our Democratic Republic. I was reminded of Eye of Newt Gingrich's off-script comments of years ago stating in essence, that Democrats are illegitimate as leaders of the country, that any election the Democrats win is incorrect and illegitimate. We didn't pay much attention to that little bomb, but it turns out it is the basic operating principle of Republicans. So, we must crush them. We must send them all packing, except those who will support the Constitution.

    I have a sneaky little suspicion that Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer have some special processes in mind for those in their ranks who voted to suppress the electors votes. At least, I hope so.

    1. So far it's "Majority Leader Schumer" in name only. Moscow Mitch has managed to twist the rules to keep things as they are until there's an official power-sharing agreement. He threatens a filibuster if Ds don't promise not to end the filibuster. Is how I understand it.

      In any case, until there's agreement, Rs are still committee chairs and M. Mitch is still, effectively, majority leader.

      But no one really thought he'd cooperate, did they?

    2. I wondered about that, the issue of who the majority leader now is. It would seem either or both, since there is no majority. Logically, with Harris as tie-breaker we have the majority, but at 50-50 it is as it is.
      Really odd that McConnell could retain the position, but that must need acceptance by the rest of the Senate (?).

    3. Yeah, I don't know how long this stalemate will go on. I assume at some point it'll get officially D control, but when and how is a mystery. To me, anyway.

    4. Here's a piece that is a discussion on /50/50 split and what to do from here.

    5. We have our first cave in!

  3. Perhaps PRESIDENT BIDEN should appoint McConnell's wife to a position in his administration as an incentive (bribe) to get his cooperation.

  4. Mystery solved, here's the actual process and history:
    It's a vote, and an agreement.

  5. Not really. The link addresses how leaders are chosen; the issue at hand is what to do to end the stranglehold Moscow Mitch has placed on Ds assuming rightful control. The leaders are already chosen; it's a question of when Schumer becomes recognized as majority leader. AFAIK.

    1. Your confidence is impressive. Also, greater than mine.

    2. It's the only way to be able to govern.
      The checks and balances are in the Constitution et al.
      Putting further conditions onto it is unconstitutional by definition. We can accept it as a "norm" but Drumpf broke every norm he could get his hands on. It's long since past time. The only question is will they have the balls.

    3. Just like the mafia "Dons" Don Drumpf devastated his realm of influence by inflicting ruthless terror over his subjects by brute force extortion by his MAGA capo enforcers. Those present day capo's are the republican congresspersons who supported the "Don" for personal gain both monetary and political.

      Eventually the Don's are brought to justice and the capo's lose their leader and power. This is happening in our great democracy today. Rejoice!

    4. Trump really wanted to be Tony Soprano.

      Fortunately for US, the malevolence of His Malignancy was exceeded only by his incompetence and his cowardice.

    5. LOL! Bingo!

      He went to mobster fantasy camp. He even talks like Marlon Brando when he's really feeling himself.

      Funny thing is Joe would whip his ass, not the other way around. Joe would, as Donny Jr. said "Have a good time doin' it" too. That's

      Speaking of Donny Jr. and the rest of the offspring...

      I'd take these 5 girls in a cage match vs. 5 of the Drumpf demon spawn. (Baron is roster exempt)

      There's great hope for us...We can not afford to screw this up like Obama did. If the alt right was absolutist (deny Obama a second term as their #1 priority) vs. helping people. Obama tried to compromise with these people. It was stupid then and it'll be stupid now if we don't go full nuclear to save this nation from certain destruction in the hands of the alt right.

      How many secrets were the Chinese and Russians given? Just that alone should be enough to go nuclear. But they tried an f*&^#^ coup! And we want to compromise in good faith with these people????

      No...Sit down and shut up. Elections have consequences. Remember??? Or are we no longer even holding the alt right to their own words anymore? The alt right burned all bridges and lost that gambit and they are freaked out and want to try it again. Only this time, they will get it right.

      Naw...Give no quarter. They made the rules, now it's their turn to feel the sharp end of that stick as we have for too long.

  6. Senator Lindsay Graham is, in my opinion, the "hypocrite of the century". He viciously demanded accountability in 2013 during the outrageous hearings about Secretary Hillary Clinton's actions on the Benghazi incident. Now Graham. defends ex-president Drumpf's actions during the death of five citizens during the pillage of our national capitol despite the obvious evidence of Drumpf's guilt. He has no shame.

    1. Graham is forever condemned because of how he did John McCain.


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