I’ve noticed a certain weariness setting in among friends, associates, myself. Gotta get on with life, maintain our joy, equanimity, hope. Can’t live in a state of permanent apoplexy and indignation. Please, can’t we enjoy just an hour’s, an evening’s, a day’s activity and conversation without alluding to HIM and all the things that he touches and disparages and tries to ruin?
So we quietly avoid the whole subject, or hold our hands in front of our face in mock horror when someone mentions his name, and we proclaim only half-jokingly, “Nooooo, I can’t take any more, please!”
And we understand, of course we do, often feeling the same sense of resignation and suffocation ourselves, denied any nearby window that might let in some precious air and light.
So we want out, desperately, no longer willing to weigh down our bruised hearts with thoughts of the awfulness that abides.
Which is when I realize yet again: He’s got us right where he wants us.
My dad was a fight fan, so when I was growing up my brother and I would settle in with regularity to watch the nationally televised Friday Night Fights from Madison Square Garden. They were often complemented by weekday fights in the Los Angeles area on local channels, so in the course of tending to such activity over years, one learns a thing or two about offense and defense, courage and fear, taking the measure of an opponent and then pressing any advantage one can discern.
(My own direct experience of such activity ended in third grade, when Bruce Gentry and I got into a playground tiff and he came at me, thick of neck and shoulders as he was, packing a roundhouse right against which I ducked. It left me merely, mercifully, with a purple bruise on the back of my forearm rather than above my eye, as a teacher, ever so fortunately for me, arrived quickly on the scene.)
Perhaps chief among the lessons of my boxing fan youth was the costs borne by those fighters forced to play defense against fighters who come at them with savage, relentless fury.
Sometimes such offensive fighters punch themselves out, the defender having waited patiently in a crouch or danced around the ring in the early rounds (think Muhammad Ali here), slipping out from most of the damaging blows. That’s when the defender can sometimes turn the tables and begin pursuing his spent prey.
But to the offensive fighter, relentlessness, endurance and will are everything. Sufficiently trained, which includes developing an iron, indomitable will, the offensive fighter usually goes after the body rather than the head of the defender in the early rounds. Continuous shots to the stomach, ribs and kidneys have a cumulative effect of softening up the defender, getting him to eventually lower his hands to protect from any further damage.
That’s when the knock-out punches to the brain can be delivered in force.
And though the replay cameras almost always focus on the knockout, it is actually all the body blows preceding it that dictate the final outcome.
Enduring punch after punch coming from every direction, the defender wearies, not only physically, but mentally, too. Pounded without ceasing on multiple fronts, he can’t keep up, can’t summon enough attention and aggressiveness of his own to counter the onslaught.
“Nooooo, I can’t take any more, please!”
Give the man this much: he is well-trained and exceedingly disciplined in the pugilistic arts. There is very little quit in him, single-minded as he is to ensure his own survival and flourishing—at least how he understands that latter term.
He’s used to having his way, hard-boiled, imperialist businessman that he is, and he has a proven track record of savaging anyone who gets in his way.
Punch punch punch, summon your henchmen to do the same, never show weakness, never admit error, never apologize, never back away, disdain humility and apology and all the other norms and niceties of civilized discourse.
Just keep beating on your opponents until they give in.
So the punches keep coming, a veritable fusillade:
Scott Pruitt trying his best to destroy the very agency he leads and the “protection” it is sworn to provide for the environment.
Ryan Zinke, linking hands with Pruitt every step of the way.
Betsy DeVos, out to destroy public education.
Wilbur Ross and Alex Acosta, hell-bent on burying what is left of the labor movement and the worker rights that are going out with it.
Steve Mnuchin and Lawrence Kudlow, committed, like their boss, to add whatever they can to the coffers of the wealthy while eviscerating every possible program that might help the poor.
John Bolton, out to decimate all international agreements that bind us to the community of nations.
Such a partial list, but we all know the score of this bout at the moment, and there’s little need to catalog all the other devastating punches hitting their targets.
Jabs and uppercuts, hooks from left and right, and whenever they can get away with it, thumbs in the eye and brass knuckles buried in the gloves.
Lies upon lies upon more lies.
Whatever it takes to overwhelm and subdue the opposition. That’s what we are faced with, and they are committed to it in the most stone-faced, ill-mannered, duplicitous, fraudulent, vicious and amoral fashion we have ever seen in the history of the American presidency.
I wish I were overstating things.
And we are…what?
Sick of it?
Needing to back off and get on with our lives?
They sure hope so.
The Civil Rights Movement and Mavis Staples: never too tired…
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