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The best, the worst . . . and way beyond the absurd


This is, these days (borrowing from my favorite author) “the best of times, the worst of times.”

It is the best of times given a new president in the White House. That good news came early last Saturday morning with the (palpitating heart) report that Joe Biden had won Pennsylvania. Did you hear the huge sighs of relief, of hoped-for expectation fulfilled, that Joe had won, thus offering the chance of bringing some sort of end to our national nightmare?

The relief was palpable, not just in America but worldwide. The planet’s democracies, like Biden’s supporters – had feared another four years of chaos, of withdrawal from joint agreements, of retributive tariffs, of general dismissal and abuse. So they too were breathing a sigh of relief, that they could now expect a future of rational interchange and cooperation.

Besides being a win for Biden, the election was a win for voting itself, the fact that ballot totals broke records for both winner and loser, reasserting the power of the individual vote, the sacred right to have a say in the country’s future.

It is also the best of times in offering some hope for reducing the number of needless deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic and thus, hopefully, more quickly, getting us back to what “normal” will eventually look like.

But this is also the worst of times, a recent surge in America each day of 110,000 new infections and about 900 deaths. While there’s news of a vaccine approved early next year, the ability to make it widely available either in America, or worldwide, is unlikely until late 2021.

Meanwhile, Trump continues his policy of upending the basic principles of American democracy, refusing to concede to the duly elected winner of the presidency and blocking the orderly transfer of power – making it look as if this country were another banana republic in the grip of authoritarian rule.

His refusal to comply with one of the standard rituals for expressing American comity is not just the worst — It is simply absurd, the best response being howls of laughter.

So what we need is  . . . cartoons, the ideas and commentary about them I hereby offer to brighten (or, okay, further depress) your day.

. . .

The mayor of Washington DC is depicted at a podium making the following announcement:  “We’ve cut off all electricity and water to the White House. He’ll have to come out if he wants his Diet Coke chilled.”

A siege of the White House and cutting off all power certainly isn’t out of the question – though generators could probably sustain him in his hidey-hole for another month or so.

. . .

Trump is shown stretched out, totally disconsolate, on a couch. The psychiatrist says, “Donald, you’ve got to stop obsessing that this is just another television reality show. Being president of the United States involves more than firing a bunch of people.”

Trump of course, will lead the list of presidents known for high staff turnover. The worry is that after firing Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, he’ll replace him with a loyalist who will refuse to deploy troops to drag him kicking and screaming out of the White House.

. . . 

A half dozen or so staffers stand around the president who is seated at the Oval Office desk. One of them says, “All the others have left, Mr. President, gone home, in quarantine – we can stay to help write your concession speech, but we’re not feeling so good ourselves.”

What must it be like to serve in the White House? — hiding a mask in your back pocket or purse, putting in on whenever you’re not around the president but fearing that he might catch you wearing it.

. . . 

Vladimir Putin is sitting at his desk, on the phone long distance, saying, “No, Donald, we can’t provide you sanctuary here. It wouldn’t look so good since I’ve been called as a witness in a couple of the suits filed against you.”

Hmm — exactly what does Putin have on Trump that makes them such good buddies?

. . .

Trump’s son Baron is sniffling a bit, sitting beside his mom, who is explaining, “Oh, sweetheart, I’m afraid we’re going to have to downsize a bit. He says he’s also going to file several lawsuits challenging the terms of our pre-nup.”

That’s the question of course. Exactly what will Melania do once no longer in the White House? Of all the books yet to be written about Trump, hers will definitely be the juiciest.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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