This has been, how shall I say it, one of the more unusual 48-hour periods in my life. Let me try in a preliminary way to come to terms with what has happened in the past two days.
It started Tuesday morning when I spent a little bit more than an hour listening to the entire phone call between Trump and the Georgia Secretary of State. It was interesting in several different ways. First of all, it was obvious that Trump had spent a great deal of time absorbing conspiracies and fevered speculations from fringe media. He seemed to have them all ready to hand in considerable detail. For those who wonder how he spends his days when he is not watching Fox News or tweeting, I think the answer is that he is really quite busy seeking out and adopting any fantasy that feeds his need to believe that he did not lose the election. I thought the relatively few remarks by Mark Meadows were interesting. That must be what it was like to be a courtier in the time of Mad King George.
At this point I was simply passing time while I waited for the vote reports to come in from Georgia. By late in the evening, Warnock and Ossoff were behind anywhere from 80,000 votes to 120,000 votes behind. When a large dump of 170,000 votes came in from one of the Atlanta area counties, Warnock took a significant lead and Ossoff was only several thousand behind. Because of the location of the outstanding votes, it was clear that both were going to win and finally at about 1:30 AM I went to bed.
I staggered out of bed at about 6 AM on Wednesday, skipped my morning walk, and settle down groggily to wait for the formal declaration that the Democrats had recaptured the Senate. Meanwhile, I watched the beginning of what I thought would be a lengthy and tedious charade in Congress as Republicans challenged a number of state electoral vote reports and thereby triggered for each state challenged two hours of debate followed by a vote.
The most interesting and amusing part of the beginning of this affair was the touching speech by Mitch McConnell, who, recognizing that he had lost control of the Senate, suddenly discovered his inner patriotism and gave a heartwarming defense of the supposedly purely formal procedure. It led me to believe that McConnell was positioning himself to retain some fraction of his now much diminished power by indicating his readiness to work “across the aisle” in a way that has eluded him for the past 12 years.
Then Secret Service agents hustled in to lead the vice president away and all hell broke loose. I assume everyone reading these words knows as well as I and perhaps better what then happened. I will just make a few comments on aspects of the entire affair that struck me particularly strongly.
First of all and quite remarkably, it is now part of the mainstream consensus gentium that had the mob been black the response would have been totally different. Since I have spent much of the last 25 years of my life arguing and saying in print some version of this, always aware that my opinions put me on the fringe, it was quite an experience to discover that I was now firmly located in the mainstream. Joy Reed even redeemed herself in my eyes with an impassioned statement of this previously unacceptable truth without the slightest hedging or compromise on her part.
I get the sense that this affair has significantly weakened the Republican Party. There was unfortunately some loss of life – the latest report I have heard is that four people were killed. But the whole business could have been a very great deal worse.
I have no idea what we can anticipate from the last 13 days of Trump’s presidency. I do hope a lot of people go to jail for this and not just the little people but that may be too much to hope for.
My most fervent hope is that I can get a little sleep. I have discovered that at the age of 87 I can no longer pull all nighters with impunity.