Upon further reflection and deliberation, my December enthusiasm for scrubbing off the ick of 2020 so as to slip gently into the warmth of 2021 hopefulness was, if not misguided, certainly premature. Indeed, it may have been just plain stupid. In my defense, and perhaps yours as well, the vast majority of our fellow earthlings joined us in this perfectly understandable display of naïveté. At last — although only briefly — unity!
Just 54 days into our rapidly maturing “new” year, it’s apparent 2021 has descended upon us bearing a full complement of its own ick, which ultimately could turn out to be ickier than its pestiferous precursor. Looking into our collective rearview mirror on New Year’s Day, we had reason to fully anticipate watching the COVID virus and its human counterpart, Donald Trump, begin to steadily diminish in their threat and importance as we accelerated into the future. Predictably, reality trumped yearning and both the virus and its orange counterpart have now mutated and continue to do so, much to the detriment of world health and American democracy.
The euphoria over 2020’s Operation Warp Speed that brought several COVID vaccines to market in record time was short lived. The reality of 2021 is that Americans now anxiously await — mostly in vain — a phone call, text message or email confirming they’ve scored an appointment to receive their life-saving COVID vaccination. The ever stealthy virus, however, incessantly bobs, weaves and mutates, rendering itself increasingly impervious to the largely unobtainable vaccines. It’s not unreasonable to posit that Americans have received, or are desperate to receive, vaccines for a virus that has been, or soon will be, subsumed by its more aggressive and lethal siblings. How’s that for ick?
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and his omnipresent shadow, Vice President Kamala Harris, have been in office 35 days now and their First 100 Days To-Do List is already in frenzied fluctuation. Biden’s Day One focus was not on COVID, but on achieving the national “unity” he promised to pursue in his inaugural address. His first official act of signing an executive order to shut down the Keystone Pipeline, however, left half the country distraught and scratching their heads, especially the 11,000 Americans who now find themselves unemployed as a result of the “moderate” president’s order.
Biden, who relentlessly disparaged the Trump administration’s management of the pandemic throughout 2020, has discovered in 2021 that this president stuff is hard. Sluggish vaccine production and chaotic distribution continue to confound government officials and dismay citizens. Biden’s school reopening plans have been a series of embarrassing moving targets driven primarily by teachers unions’ demands which have infuriated beleaguered parents. Veep Harris’ attempt to clarify the administration’s school reopening objectives in a recent interview on the Today Show was a frustrating, borderline hilarious study in doublespeak, misdirection and obfuscation. On the plus side, growing disappointment over Biden’s COVID response efforts seems to be generating some degree of bipartisan unity, just not the kind Joe had in mind.
Like his viral counterpart, Donald Trump began the New Year continuing to wreak the havoc that marked his presidency in 2020 — only his 2021 strain is havoc on steroids. The jury may still be out on the question of Trump’s psychological stability, but his prolific rants and incendiary rhetoric are evidence that the man occasionally dabbles in bat guano crazy. How else to describe his deliberately wicked diatribe on Jan. 6 before thousands of adoring, enraged Trumpies. Emboldened by Trump’s remarks, a march, mayhem and death followed as the assorted crazies stormed the U.S. Capitol. The rest, as they say, is history; some of the ugliest American history yet recorded.
Trump’s morally justified but constitutionally doomed second impeachment soon followed the Capitol debacle and left in its wake a dumpster of disunity among partisans of every stripe. Republicans, deservedly, are particularly fractured and contentious. But wait, there’s yet more ick: Trump is already laying the groundwork for his run in the next presidential election. Hopefully, by then, he’ll be the only virus we have to deal with.
Brent Grimes writes from Damascus and continues to eagerly await vaccination. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.