Biden to spike ball here prior to touchdown

An open letter to the president of the United States.

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Joe Biden eats an ice cream cone in Traverse City, Michigan, the self-proclaimed “Cherry Capital of the World,” Biden was pressured to order the cherry, but stood his ground and asked for chocolate chip.

Joe Biden eats an ice cream cone in Traverse City, Michigan, the self-proclaimed “Cherry Capital of the World,” Biden was pressured to order the cherry, but stood his ground and asked for chocolate chip.

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

Dear President Biden:

Crystal Lake? Well, OK. I suppose going there makes as much sense as going anyplace else. Your visit Wednesday — scheduled, of course, subject to change. At least I hope so. “Sorry, we can’t gather in the Situation Room. We’ve got to get the president to McHenry County ...”

Yes, it doesn’t matter quite so much where anyone is anymore, in physical reality. Lots of us still work remotely. As if we don’t want to trouble ourselves with returning to the office, since we know COVID-19 is going to come raging back this autumn anyway, what with the extra contagious Delta variant and not enough people being vaccinated and those who are needing boosters. Will we have the gumption to slap our masks back on and start socially distancing again? Heck, we could barely manage it the first time. One million American deaths will be shrugged off as easily as 600,000 were. As I’ve said before, once you start ignoring reality, the specifics of the reality being ignored hardly matter.

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Speaking of which. Your forays out into the heartland have been dubbed the “America’s Back Together” tour. Really? Did “America’s More Fractured Than Ever” not poll well?

Is this what coming back together looks like? Millions of Americans still sunk in their weird cargo cult, sitting cross-legged, palms raised, faces turned upward, scanning the skies for their lost orange master, filling the time by busily deforming and undercutting the American electoral process. So that next time their absent king can win despite getting millions of fewer votes, the way God intends him to.

The Republicans have proven if you repeat a lie enough, it takes on the patina of reality. So yes, America’s back! And together! That’s like saying the Union and the Confederacy came together at Gettysburg. After a fashion.

I saw the video of your most recent stop, Saturday in Traverse City, Michigan. Ordering an ice cream cone. Frankly, I’d prefer a clip of you signing a federal voter rights bill that guarantees American citizens can cast ballots and those votes will be tallied whether local Republican officials approve of their choices or not. But maybe the two are connected. Part of your master plan. I hope so. We’ve got 16 months until the midterms. Our country has a genius for ignoring grave problems, even when the solution is marked like a runway at night. We still manage to veer into the weeds.

It could be worse. I suppose you could be going to Lawndale Wednesday instead of Crystal Lake, arriving to declare “America Ends Gun Violence.” The hollowness of that might sting after a weekend with more than 100 people shot in Chicago, including 13 kids and two cops. Nineteen deaths. How odd that the city spent months worrying that our luster would be diminished if we abandon the name “Lake Shore Drive.” But we don’t seem to care much about how babies being shot in the head will affect our national reputation. Or about the babies. There isn’t time. Next weekend starts in two days.

Honestly, I don’t even like people demanding action. It seems part of the miserable charade, because it suggests that a.) there’s something we can do and b.) we’d do it if there were. Americans bought another 17 million guns in 2020 — a record. How can we even pretend to be surprised to see the harvest of 2021? What did we expect people were going to do with those guns?

I wish I could brief you on Crystal Lake. Way beyond Barrington, by the “Here Be Dragons” on the six-county map. I drove there once, five years ago, to report a story about an autistic boy visiting a laundromat. It was a very nice laundromat. TLC Laundromat. Very clean. Stop by if you can. Other than that, well, there’s a lake, somewhere.

It’s been a while since a sitting president visited Illinois. Donald Trump popped into Chicago in 2019, in late October, but that was to squeeze $4 million out of local donors who don’t care that their names will be forever wed to sedition. He didn’t dare show his face in public, preferring to speak to a private gathering of his friends, the police.

But that’s grist for another column. Safe travels.

Your media pal,

Neil Steinberg

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