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January 2021: His Last Wail

Updated: May 5



"Precious, precious, precious!" Gollum cried. "My Precious! O my Precious!" And with that, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail Precious, and he was gone.


You can see Tolkien's problem here. He's written nearly 576,459 words (yes, there really are that many) and doesn't know how to end the book. How do you kill off an all-powerful enemy? What is to prevent Frodo from repeating the mistakes of Isildur and wielding the Ring for himself? He's certainly about to, crying in a voice "clearer and more powerful than Sam had ever heard him use" that "I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!" The only people with the strength to resist the temptation of absolute power are Tom Bombadil, who Peter Jackson completely eliminates from the script, and Faramir, who is the only human strong enough to recognize his frailty. If the Ring falls into new hands, the cycle starts again. Tolkien's ingenious solution is to deprive the Ring of agency for one brief second. The Ring of Power is on a finger, yes, but the finger is detached from the Frodo's body, because Gollum has bitten it off. And then gravity takes over.


Something of the same sort happened to Donald Trump and the Republican Party yesterday. Trump could not be destroyed: he could only destroy himself. Mitch McConnell hitched himself to absolute power, only to get his hand bitten off. Cruz and the rest of his Nazgul turned and fled, vanishing into Mordor's shadows.


The Power that drove them on and filled them with hate and fury was wavering, its will was removed from them; and now looking in the eyes of their enemies they saw a deadly light and were afraid.


That deadly light is the light of justice, of 4.4 million voters in a Georgia run-off, of Stacey Abrams wielding the sword that fells the Ringwraith at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.


"I Am No Man!"

"I am no man!" says Eowyn in the screenplay, and the line rings truer today than ever. One woman did this. Stacey Abrams deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Governship of Georgia.


Thank You Santa

It has been instructive to watch the fall of Evil over the past two months. We are trained to think of history in terms of decisive moments, but what we have witnessed has been incremental. First the lunatic-in-chief (LIC) cries that he has been cheated out of victory (Smaug did much the same thing in The Hobbit). Second, the LIC's minions humor him, in the hopes of turning out his base in the Georgia runoffs. Then, the base turns on the rest of the party, including the two Republican candidates in those same runoffs, ratf**king itself with billboards on the way in to Atlanta saying that Perdue and Loeffler won't support their King. Then, the party turns full-on anti-democratic, revisiting ceremonial acts as if the monarchy had reawakened overnight. In the Second Age, long before this year of grace, the White Citizens of Georgia in their wisdom decreed that no one with less than 50% of the vote could be considered a winner, to allow time for whites to mobilize against a black candidate. And so it was that David Perdue was made to fight again for his seat that he had already fairly won by 88,000 votes, only to lose it to the tide of black rural voters who had never voted before in their lives, their ancestors brought there even earlier in the First Age by an evil triangle of sugar, slaves, and rum. And in time all these things came to pass, as the LIC begged for a precise number of votes to win an election that he had already lost, and then accused DeKalb County of doing exactly the same.


And the laughter of the Captains of the West grew loud, for their hearts were filled with a new hope in the midst of darkness.


Pro-Trump supporters in Washington DC got into a brawl with police and didn't even make the news. The coup plotters, dispirited, retreated to their rotten boroughs. The Mitch King was dethroned.



"Was it worth it?" the excellent Abby Phillip asked on CNN. To lose the White House, the House, and the Senate, all for the sake of one man? To tie yourself to wickedness? What has been gained, other than a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court for a man who likes beer? And do not, pessimist Democrats out there clinging to your doomsday scenarios, say that 50-50 in the Senate will only empower the center, and change nothing. What we have learned over these last two months is that when one thing changes, everything changes. A small runoff vote in a reliably red state can dethrone McConnell. It is now incrementally more likely that Puerto Rico and D.C. will be the 51st and 52nd States of the Union, reshuffling the deck of the Electoral College. Schumer can threaten the 13 senators who are (as I write) objecting to a legal election with Senatorial Siberia, or let them sink into oblivion. Trump, whose name I can finally speak, will not be allowed to fly to Scotland, because escaping reality is not an essential purpose for travel. He will be stronger than ever on the airwaves as a result of the transformation of both chambers of Congress, a position I'm sure he anticipated and an outcome he secretly hoped for. But there will be a larger stimulus to the economy, and the judiciary can be repopulated with Democratic appointments all the way up to the District Courts. China will not outpace the U.S. economy until 2030 instead of 2025. (All those who supported Trump for standing up to China should see how China's economy has performed compared to the rest of the world in 2020. That enormous population had a total of 100,000 COVID-19 cases last year, or the same number as the U.S. in the past eight hours.)


All it took was for one man to bite off more than he could chew. And let gravity take care of the rest.


Update: In the hours since this was written, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, leading to the death of four people in that mob. More than fifty members of the police were injured, at least fifteen of them seriously, with one policeman, Brian Sicknick, dying of his injuries. A second Capital Police officer, Howard Liebengood, committed suicide in the days that followed, as did an arrested rioter. On Wednesday January 13, almost exactly a week later, the President was impeached by Congress for inciting an insurrection.


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