Wish You Were Here

Three months after Al’s loss the prevailing mood remains bleak. While we “celebrated” the Kid’s graduation, things like birthdays and holidays are as dog meat–served cold, and with the fur still attached. Nobody in this squad is much in the mood for festivities of any description. And then–with Teddy visiting for the graduation–the black topic of Christmas crept into the conversation. We all moaned as if seasick.

Mal de mer? No–outremer!

“We gotta get out of this house,” one of the kids said. Ah, yes–but where? In the best anti-Christmas sentiment Teddy could muster, she simply whispered, “Auschwitz.”

We burst into a nervous, half-nauseated laughter.

Just picture the postcards we could send: “Having a White Christmas” or, my favorite, “Wish You Were Here.”

I’d send the latter to the Orange Horror.

This is about as far as one can get from Christmas; hell, it’s about as far as one can get from civilization.

But if all we want is to escape civilization, we need only turn on the television or read the newspapers. Except this one. We’re very civilized. Please–have an improving glass of wine, Macduff, and read on.

It looks increasingly as if only the 4th Estate stands between us and total catastrophe. More accurately, perhaps, only leaks stand between us and chaos. The media reports on the quotidian uncivilized lying of our president–and then on the leaks that clarify the lies. Like a dog chasing its tail.

But if we lacked this mechanism, the only version of events we’d have would be the president’s. And the president is a shameless liar.

The only thing I know for sure at this juncture is that former FBI Honcho James Comey did not actually leak anything. He’s not Julian Assange. He’s a private citizen who shared notes he took of conversations he held with the highest public servant in the country–and then testified to it all, under oath.

The president, of course, called Comey a “leaker.”

Do you expect him to fulfill his promise to similarly testify? Let’s leave this topic in the capable hands of former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich:

Say a person lies repeatedly. He tells whopper after whopper, repeating them even after they’re shown to be complete fabrications. He insists that “3 to 5 million” fraudulent votes were cast against him in the presidential election, without a shred of evidence ever turning up. He says his predecessor wiretapped him, again without any evidence. He has claimed he heard Arabs cheer when the World Trade Center went down, that Barack Obama wasn’t born in America, that vaccinations cause autism, that climate change is a hoax.

He has made so many bogus claims that fact-checkers are numb, reporters aren’t surprised by anything that comes out of his mouth, and late-night comedians are awash in material.

Now suppose there’s a factual dispute between this serial liar and someone else – say, a former director of the FBI. Whom would you trust to be telling the truth? Suppose the serial liar said he’d be “100 percent” willing to provide his version under oath. How much weight does that carry?

What about the president’s insistence that there was no collusion with Russia during his campaign, and no obstruction of justice regarding the investigation after his election?

The two are not necessarily entwined.

Although I doubt it, the investigation as to collusion could exonerate the president. But he would still be exposed to obstruction if Comey’s testimony–that the president asked him to let a crucial piece of the investigation go, and subsequently fired him to quash the whole shooting match–could actually be proved.

Let’s hope the president has those tapes!

I picture him ensnared by them, Ahabesque, bound to the white leviathan of his lying egotism.

Wish You Were Here!

Joseph Oldenbourg

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