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Strength and Weakness

IMG Auteur
Published : March 20th, 2020
921 words - Reading time : 2 - 3 minutes
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Category : Editorials

Happy Colorectal Awareness Month, everybody ­— in case you’re wondering why it feels like fate shoved a four-by-four up your nether region where the sun don’t shine. Millions around the country must be stunned at how bad this suddenly is. And every new morning seems worse than the last: Friday the Thirteenth meets Groundhog Day. Jobs and incomes instantly gone. Businesses staring into the abyss. Retirements vaporizing. Everyone stuck home alone with nothing to think about but going broke and hungry. And the final indignity: the possibility of death if you stray outside to get something you need, or just seek the comfort of other people.

This is our hard time. If you ever needed God, or some human representation of the good father, this would be the occasion; someone to guide and reassure you and inspire you to do your best under difficult circumstances. For the time being, America has Donald Trump. To the agnostical thinking class, with its obsessive loathing of men, white men especially, and white men in the father role most of all, Mr. Trump represents the ultimate grotesquerie. To that class of scribes, professors, assorted “creatives,” virtue signalers, and social justice seekers, even Tennessee Williams could not conjure up a more fearsome and detestable Big Daddy than Mr. Trump. Hence, their nonstop underhanded attempts to get rid of him the past three years — which had all the earmarks of a neurotic adolescent rebellion. (“The Resistance” was actually a good name for it.) And yet, there he stands at the podium in our hard time. You can call that a lot of things, but one of them has got to be: strength.

Yes, he is peculiar-looking: the strange blonde helmet, the orange face. Note, back in one of America’s earlier hard times, a lot people thought Mr. Lincoln looked like a great ape, and had much sport with that image of him in the newspapers. It’s also a fact that the decisions he made led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of mostly young men in the bloodiest slaughters then imaginable. Yet those young men going to their deaths called him Father Abraham in their songs around the campfire. I’m not saying that Donald Trump is another Lincoln — certainly not in sheer rhetoric — but I am saying we don’t know yet what his mettle will show in this crisis,  and where it might take us. One thing for sure: he’s been subjected to more political abuse than any character on-the-scene in my lifetime, and it’s amazing that he didn’t fold or quit or lose his shit as it went on and on and on.

And so, you now have the strange and ironic spectacle of his organized opposition, the Democrats, hoisting up onto their pinnacle of leadership absolutely the weakest candidate possible to oppose Mr. Trump in the election: Joe Biden. There was something certainly supernatural about his ascent in the recent cluster of primaries, as if some gang of someones worked strenuously behind the scenes to make it happen. If Mr. Biden ever had any charisma even in his prime as a young senator, there was no sign of that now, either in his own bumbling behavior or in the sparse crowds that were flushed out of the DNC’s voter registration thickets to show up at his rallies. In fact, he emanated the exact opposite of charisma, a faltering flop-sweat odor of weakness, and of every kind weakness: physical, mental, and ethical.

His role was not the good father, it was the half-crazy old uncle in the attic — the kind who puts on his threadbare best suit every day to go down to a corner bar and sip beers until it’s time to stagger back home, where a dutiful niece-in-law might give him supper, if he could manage to ask for it politely. The kind who, until his forced retirement due to incompetence and blundering, had worked as an errand boy for the local mob, picking up receipts from the numbers racket, and was then cast off like a banana peel in a drainage ditch when his usefulness ended.

Of course, Joe Biden’s eminence in government, as vice-president, afforded him grander opportunities for grift than that. He went into the anarchic mess of Ukraine — engineered by US agencies, by the way — as Mr. Obama’s “point man” and came away from it with at least several million dollars in a guaranteed revenue stream for his hapless fuck-up of a son, Hunter, and there’s hard evidence that many millions more found its way into Joe’s pockets, too, via Ukrainian oligarch money laundered through the banks of Estonia and Cyprus — who would look there? (Rudy Giuliani, actually.)

That is the sort of president America would get if they happen to elect Joe Biden. The Democratic Party could not elect a strong and stupendously corrupt woman in 2016, and they have reeled in disbelief at their own failure ever since. Now they are marching forward into a national election — if that election can even be held, and we don’t know that yet — with a nominee who looks and acts like a wax figure of a president in one of those eerie hushed chambers of Disneyland. But please understand, this is exactly what the Democrats have wished for lo these several years that have taken us into America’s hard time: weakness and their own death, by suicide. Let’s not go there with them.

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James Howard Kunstler has worked as a reporter and feature writer for a number of newspapers, and finally as a staff writer for Rolling Stone Magazine. In 1975, he dropped out to write books on a full-time basis. His nonfiction book, "The Long Emergency," describes the changes that American society faces in the 21st century. Discerning an imminent future of protracted socioeconomic crisis, Kunstler foresees the progressive dilapidation of subdivisions and strip malls, the depopulation of the American Southwest, and, amid a world at war over oil, military invasions of the West Coast; when the convulsion subsides, Americans will live in smaller places and eat locally grown food.
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