You wake to the scream of a smoke alarm in a bedroom filled with dense black smoke. Gasping, you roll onto the floor and belly crawl to the baby’s room. There, you reach up, eyes stinging, and pluck the howling tot from her crib.
Trying to leave, you are driven back by flames sprouting in the hallway you had just left. At that moment, an ax crashes through the window, a burst of broken glass, noise, light and air.
Through the shattered window frame steps a firefighter in full mask, helmet and bunker gear. He reaches out his gloved hands. You:
A) Crawl as fast as you can toward the flames.
B) Ask him how he scored on his physical.
C) Hand him the baby.
If you answered “A,” you are a Trump Republican, yearning for four more years of institution- and morality-scorching conflagration that, in some fashion I’ve stopped trying to comprehend, makes you feel good about yourself and your country.
You like the flames of American freedoms and traditions burning to ash — they’re pretty — and you don’t perceive any harm because, when you’re not oohing at the fire, you’re gawping at Fox News, lost in the pyrotechnic fantasy display they’re putting on.
If you picked “B,” quiz the firefighter, you are like many automatic-pilot Democrats right now who, slow to accept the obvious situation (house burning down), cling to past rituals of long-vanished normality. (Exactly who is this fellow I’m handing my baby to?) They’re busy kicking the tires of the fire truck, musing: “Fireman Joe . . . he’s not exactly young, is he? How is he on ladders? Let’s pick apart that assault accusation from 1993 . . .”
Parsing the details so closely they never bother to look up at the guy he’s running against, someone accused of worse by dozens of women. Ignoring the flames licking the doorframe, they focus on the carpet. It could use a vacuuming!
Until recently, I was in the “B” camp. After reading George Packer’s “The Unwinding,” I was left with the indelible image of Biden as a vapid career political hack, all teeth and twinkle and self-interest. Nothing in the debates — and I watched ’em all — changed that impression, not with Biden’s get-off-my-lawn delivery, his near total lack of tone, nuance, wit, spontaneity and, it seemed at times, understanding.
Doesn’t matter. The house is on fire. Three years of near-constant Trump disaster wasn’t constant enough or disastrous enough for smirking fate, which unleashed the full burn-the-place-to-the-foundation COVID-19 debacle.
A double inferno, because we have the calamity of it happening, plus the whirlwind of Fox America recasting the catastrophe as a Trump Triumph. He blocked travel from China! He formed a committee! Alexander Fleming, Jonas Salk and Donald Trump, heroes of medicine!
How can they do it? Dumb question. Remember, these are the same people denying climate change. Shrugging off mass shootings of their own children, again and again. Who won’t so much as require trigger locks, lest that be a first step toward the black helicopters of their nightmares swooping down and sucking up their vital bodily fluid with their awful governmental straws. They’ve had practice. Ignoring COVID-19 is easy.
Last week — along with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama — I had my own “Go, Joe!” moment. I’m all in. Take the baby, Joe.
Am I disappointed? Sure. And Mike Bloomberg wanted to be president, blowing $600 million toward that end. But he can read a list of figures and turned on a dime to support Joe Biden. So can I. So can you.
Don’t be swayed by all those madmen dancing around the flames, declaring either that this isn’t happening, or that it IS happening but it’s OK because, you know, the firebombing of Dresden was worse.
Those who would rather see this old, imperfect house burn down so we can build a brand new one to their dream specifications, once they get the cash. Who are happy to let the baby burn, too, because then she won’t grow up to perhaps have an abortion someday.
Here, Joe, take the baby. Get her safely to the ground, and I won’t care whether you can open a hydrant or run a line. When we’re out of this, we can worry about what comes next. Because we can’t stay here. The house is on fire.