Humanity is supposed to start the year full of vim and vigor. A new year, a fresh start and all.
Instead, we’re already out of breath, as we process, well, chaos. That now infamous speech by President Trump on Wednesday followed by protests that sent Congress scurrying for safety — all followed by endless assessments and speeches, many histrionic or self-serving. It’s all a lot to take in, but heaven help us, it wasn’t the burning of the Reichstag.
Disasters produces signature images. The fireman cradling an infant in his arms after the domestic terror, and terrible, bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995. The weird smoke billows from the World Trade Centers on 9/11. But now? That numbskull sitting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office chair with his feet propped on her desk.
Blame is zig-zagging around the Capital of the Free World like laser beams at a rock concert. They’re mostly landing on the president. Everyone blames Trump for inciting the riotous crowd. I keep thinking of the children’s poetry line by A. A. Milne: “King John was not a good man, And no good friends had he.” Or the narrated line from a 1950’s movie about attack by Martians: “It was the beginning of the rout of civilization.” That fictional incident ended, wouldn’t you know, because the invaders were felled by exposure to earth’s bacteria, a sort of coronavirus for Martians.
Police are coming in their blame. By yesterday, Pelosi had asked for and obtained the resignations of the Capitol Hill Police Chief Steven Sund and the House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving. She’s also among many gunning for Trump, threatening a sort of lightning round impeachment if the cabinet doesn’t invoke the 25th Amendment.
The cabinet members, though, are starting to exit in the aftermath, starting at this writing with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
But this first week of 2021 was overlaid with what in medical terms you’d call a pre-existing condition. Namely, the pandemic with its still-potent danger having hauled itself like a lumbering crocodile into the new year.
My thoughts go to the beleaguered federal career people, still mostly working isolated at home, bound by the intermittent and ersatz connection of Zoom, or whatever. A Federal News Network survey shows people generally like teleworking, at least part of the time. A majority said they have no idea when their agencies’ offices would reopen normally. The rest have a vague sense.
So, feds are going to be scattered for a while, with a sizable portion perhaps never returning to how it was pre-pandemic. Because pandemics don’t respect arbitrary calendars, the ongoing way of work can have a dampening effect just when the cold air should put a bounce in the step.
Senator — and now majority leader — Chuck Schumer declared Wednesday a new day to “live forever in infamy.” President-elect Joe Biden called Wednesday one of the darkest days in American history. Boy was he mad at Trump, going on for nearly an hour.
Guys, a little perspective.
The republic will survive another 14 days of the Trump administration. Recall we made it through the last days of the Nixon administration, when the president was purported to drink Scotch heavily and talk to the portraits on the White House walls. Whole blocks of Washington were in flames in the spring of 1968, after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Just one set of events in a year in which it seemed like the country’s wheels were coming off. Riots went on for nearly a week in 1863 when New York City mobs protested military conscription.
I make these comparisons not to trivialize or say anything was good about Wednesday. I found it as jaw-dropping as you. I just want to help maintain a bit of that perspective. Except for police procedures and probably the installation of a hundred million dollar fence, the Capitol riot won’t change history. Its purported stimulus will soon be a private citizen without so much as a Twitter account.
But it’s only January 8th.
Nearly Useless Factoid
By Alazar Moges
The half-dome shape of National Statuary Hall inside the Capitol Building, also referred to as a “whispering gallery,” produces an acoustical effect whereby, in some spots, a speaker many yards away may be heard more clearly than one closer at hand. The modern-day echoes occur in different locations from those in the 19th century, when the floor and ceiling of the hall were different.
Source: Architect of the Capitol