On the one hand, grab the popcorn

By: - January 22, 2021 6:28 am
wild ride

On the one hand, grab the popcorn. (Getty Images).

wild ride
At least it should be fun to watch. (Getty Images).

The following are excerpts from this week’s Daily Current newsletter, the editor’s opinionated morning news roundup, which you can subscribe to here.

Biden’s short honeymoon. (Jan. 21) Biden will always be able to point to his emphasis on “unity” in the early days of his presidency, and say he tried.

He believes his background makes him uniquely qualified to create conditions where, as Biden has wrongly predicted during more than one election cycle, the GOP “fever will break.”

But if anybody should know that congressional Republicans generally, and Mitch McConnell particularly, are going to do everything they can to stymie a Democratic president’s agenda, it should be Obama’s VP.

And while Republicans aren’t very good at governing (see Obamacare, replacement of), obstructing is easier. It’s what Republicans do best. This will get ugly early.

On the bright side (where I’m always looking), while Biden’s unflashy, sincere demonstration of decency and humanity Wednesday wasn’t surprising, jeepers what a welcome departure from his predecessor.

Ding dong, etc. (Jan. 20) All I was doing in January 2009 was freelancing, so I was able to spend pretty much the whole morning watching Obama’s inaugural festivities. And also taking satisfaction in a piece of mine the Guardian had published that very morning, in which I argued the American public should curb its schadenfreude over the end of the George W. Bush administration. “Someday,” I wrote, “Americans are going to acknowledge that sometimes Bush wasn’t leading them or misleading them. He was following them.”

By 2009  many people in the U.S. who had been so eager to go warmongering – to “kick their ass and steal their gas” – had come to accept the folly of the invasion of Iraq. And many of them, not least elected Democrats who voted to give Bush a blank check – like Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, and the man inaugurated as president today – were eager to place all the blame on Bush instead of acknowledging their own.

Nearly a dozen years later, i.e., a couple weeks ago, I wrote that many Republican politicians “may try to treat Trump as if he was the Iraq War.” That is, they’ll want to avoid talking about him, and pretend they never really supported him.

But of course it’s far more important for the country, you know, going forward, if the millions of people who have fallen for Trump’s con repeat a version of the American public opinion exercise that followed the Iraq War. Hopefully, as people did with the war, Trump’s supporters will come to reject things they once believed so enthusiastically, and deny or suppress their fervent Trumpism.

If and when they do, maybe they’ll blame Trump for misleading them. There was a lot of that going on, after all.

But just as America and Americans, and not merely Bush, were responsible for the world-historical blunder that was the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the nation wasn’t subjected to Trump and Trumpism simply because of the sheer magnetism of a single grifter. Trump led – and misled – his followers. But he was also vomited up by them.

The national culpability – the popular delusion and madness of crowds – is much more obvious now than it was in 2009. And it won’t dissipate as easily.

All this week’s exciting things…(Jan. 19) Your governor released a budget outline Monday, parts of which he described tenderly and solemnly in his state of the state address Tuesday on his YouTube place. More cuts, as expected, but perhaps not as much as, well, expected. Fun fact: The last and only other time Sisolak delivered a SOTS, there was crying.

Anyway, there will be plenty of time over the next several months to watch legislative Democrats pretend things aren’t as horrible and dysfunctional in Nevada as they really and truly are. Budget nutshell: Help us Obi Joe Biden. You’re our only hope.

The session starts Feb. 1.

At least the GOP will be fun to watch. (Jan. 16) Assuming white supremacists don’t succeed in forcibly taking control of the nation and imposing fascism any time soon, the U.S. for the foreseeable future will muddle along. And a lot of folks, including Republicans, anticipate the GOP is about to have an epic internal knock-down drag-out between those who love Trump/Trumpism unconditionally and those who would like to, you know, move on.

On the one hand, grab the popcorn.

But on the other hand, for decades – I’m gonna say since Eisenhower – nearly every time Republicans, as a group, a mindset and a party, have come to a fork in the road, they’ve taken a hard right. Or surrendered to it, if you prefer. And let’s not forget, “moderate” Republicans haven’t been a going concern since the 90s at the latest.

I have no idea how all this is going to shake out. It could be horrible for everyone. But on the bright side (where I’m always looking), to reiterate, it all promises to be the stuff of entertaining and intriguing spectacle, including here in Nevada where Republicans really don’t have frontrunners in either the race for governor or Cortez Masto’s U.S. Senate seat, both of which will be on the 2022 ballot.

There might be only one thing that’s a pretty safe bet in all this: If and when the GOP infighting and chaos presents Democrats with an opportunity to champion and enact progressive policies, Democrats will be too skittish, and they’ll blow it. That’s an especially likely scenario here in Nevada.

Good luck

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Hugh Jackson
Hugh Jackson

Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.