Two tales of redemption
On the fun in not giving a shit whether Trump will forgive Kevin McCarthy and on a dishonest judicial ruling against masks on airplanes, the latter with a Mexican detour and some thoughts on death.
Offerings to the gods, Museo del Templo Mayor, Mexico City.
There’s a scene in the brilliant 2017 farce The Death of Stalin in which, for a brief few moments, it looks as though the general secretary, who’s been left lying insensate on the floor in his own piss while his lieutenants wrestle for dominance, isn’t quite dead and may even recover. What now? say their frozen faces. Something like that happened after the January 6 Capitol insurrection when President Donald Trump, briefly judged politically dead by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republican apparatchiks as a result of his inciting followers to storm the Capitol (and then spending several hours happily watching the mayhem unfold on TV), sprang abruptly back to life (at least in Republican polls). The opportunistic calculus, which briefly called for pressing Trump to shut up his nonsense about having won the 2020 election and resign, now demanded complete denial that anything worth investigating had occurred. What now?
McCarthy’s January 6 story is that he came perilously close to acquiring a backbone, telling Trump to call off the mob, scoffing at Trump’s suggestion that it was a false-flag Antifa operation, etc., and vowing to tell Trump to resign. Or rather, that isn’t McCarthy’s story (in the sense that he’s willing to tell it), but rather a New York Times story drawn from a forthcoming book by Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns. McCarthy’s own story in reaction to the Times story is that it’s a pack of lies, he never even considered acquiring a backbone, though if that’s the case it’s hard to know why (per the Washington Post) he phoned Trump last night to beg forgiveness. The early report, yet unconfirmed by the Orange One himself, is that Trump is inclined to forgive, and indeed is taking pleasure in this latest evidence that he’s got McCarthy’s balls in his back pocket.
But Trump’s a fickle guy, and he likely won’t decide for sure whether McCarthy is to live or die until he sees how it plays out in the press. The schadenfreude the rest of us enjoy in watching McCarthy squirm and in knowing either option will hurt the GOP, guaranteeing a happy ending, is the subject of my latest New Republic column.
I’m a busy guy today! Early this morning I posted another piece explaining why Biden had to appeal that stupid judicial ruling eliminating the mask mandate on airplanes, even if he was about to lift the mandate himself. The reason is that it’s part of the “originalist” Republican war on regulatory power, which, in this particular instance, is amazingly sloppy, and turns on ignoring a contemporaneous definition of the word “sanitation” in a text specifically written to explain medical terms to lawyers that didn’t come out the way Judge Kimball Mizelle wanted. The piece also contains a brief report on my recent visit to Mexico, which is beating the everlasting crap out of the United States in limiting Covid cases, probably because Mexicans grasp, as we in the United States do not, that death is not voluntary. Or, to paraphrase Octavio Paz in The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950), people in the United States believe life can be perfected; people in Mexico believe life can be redeemed. Read that New Republic piece here.