High noon today marks one more day, the final day, the last 24 hours we must slog through to reach the constitutional conclusion of this majestically wretched interlude. At noon plus one second tomorrow, by law, Donald Trump will join the ranks of the ex-presidents. A motley crew, to be sure, made absurd now by the introduction of one who has as much business being on that list as an alligator has on an Amtrak train. Ticket, sir? OH MY GOD MY ARM’S OFF. Yeah, like that.
Joe Biden will spend his last pre-presidential day attending a memorial for the nearly 400,000 who have lost their lives to COVID-19. Trump will spend his day ignoring those who have died, again, while mulling pardons for the brigands within and without his family who made this nightmare administration not only possible, but practically untouchable.
Will he pardon himself? Will he pardon the Capitol wreckers? If we have learned anything, it is that Trump may do the worst possible thing at the most exquisitely damaging moment. “With devotion’s visage and pious action, we do sugar o’er the devil himself,” said Shakespeare’s Polonius in Hamlet. I strongly suspect a fair gluttony of sugar will be deployed via the pardon pen before the morrow drops the curtain on this rumbling farce of a presidency.
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Trump cannot use Twitter, and the national blood pressure has plummeted since he got the banhammer. According to one study, mass disinformation about the “stolen” 2020 election dropped 73 percent since that platform gave him the hook. We can partly blame QAnon, Fox News and Breitbart for the dented state of national fact cohesion, but at the end of the day, the greatest purveyor of lies about the president was the president himself.
Speaking of the Capitol raid, the woman who stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop two weeks ago turned herself in to authorities and has been arrested. Riley June Williams was filmed nabbing the computer on Riot Day, and brought it home intending to sell it to SVR, the Russian intelligence service. Why? May as well ask why thousands of people slathered social media with selfies and vids of themselves committing federal crimes. One is put in mind of the bullies from The Simpsons careening through town in a stolen police scooter holding a camcorder and declaring, “Videotaping this crime spree is the best idea we’ve ever had!”
“Sources familiar with the planning tell ABC News he wants to have a military-style sendoff from Joint Base Andrews Wednesday morning,” reports Jordyn Phelps regarding Trump’s departure plans, “complete with a military band and a red-carpet walk flanked by troops as he boards Air Force One for the last time, and even possibly a flyover by Air Force fighter jets.”
The red carpet is what makes this art. Sure, why not? Hand him a bust of Pallas while you’re at it and tell him it’s an award statue for being such a great leader. Fart some tepid confetti into the wind as the fighters howl by. You like me, you really like me! Never mind the raven above his chamber door. Never mind, and nevermore.
There’s a “Green Zone” in Washington, D.C., thanks to Trump and his friends like Laptop Riley. As in Baghdad, this domestic Green Zone exists to thwart violent attacks by the locals, except these locals are not from Fallujah or Tikrit. They are from Nashville, and Pittsburgh, and Orange County, and Sioux City. Trump has militarized a substantial portion of the population against the idea of democracy itself, and after many long years of diligent work by groups like the NRA, the country is swimming in war weapons. When Biden takes the oath tomorrow, he will be surrounded by more troops than are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is not for show. All the troops in the capital won’t help if Trump’s extremists follow through on their threats to attack state capitals across the country either on Inauguration Day, or the day after, or someday, maybe. People feared large crowds after 9/11 because they make juicy targets for foreign terrorists. Now, I fear them again because of my neighbors, and because of the president of the United States.
On this last day, behold the shabby sort of country we are, and have always been. Trump is not an accident of history, but the predictable result of a nation born in plunder and slaughter. Turn away if you wish, but there is no obscuring the fact that this man is the perfect avatar for what the Republican Party is about once you scrape away the bunting and the self-serving advertising. This has been a great four years for the worst actors and aspects within this society, and it was all as inevitable as the tides. Mission accomplished.