CHARLIE BROWN AND THE FOOTBALL

Posted in Rants on February 1st, 2017 by Ed

Watching someone make the same mistake over and over again is difficult. First, you're alarmed. Then you pity them. Then you get angry. And finally, you grow to hate them. People proceed through these stages at different speeds. Really compassionate people linger in the first two stages for a long time. Most people get to the latter stages pretty rapidly.

The first time a family member comes to you and says, "I blew every penny I have on (let's say, Beanie Babies, just to keep it from getting too real)," it's natural to think, "Gosh, he really needs my help! How awful!" So you lend him money. Then he comes back a second time and think, hmm, that's odd. The third time, and the fourth time, and the fifth time, it begins to sink in that no matter how much you try to help, this problem will recur because the poor guy has a problem he can't beat. "Poor guy" is what you're still calling him at this point, anyway. So the next few times you give him the money, but without any expectation that 1) he will repay it, or 2) he will not return shortly asking again. This is pure pity. Eventually "poor guy" transitions to "idiot" or worse. You've sympathized with the fact that he has a problem, but what is he doing about it? Is he even trying to fix it or does he plan to let Beanie Babies ruin his life forever? The conversations get increasingly testy now; you still help him, but with stern lectures that, honestly, this is the last. time. and you better straighten up. When this runs its course, you stop taking his calls. You hate him for being weak, even though you know that's cruel and, on some level, wrong. You hate him for ruining his own life and trying to pull you down with him. You hate him for lying – to you and to himself – about trying to fix the problem. The part of you that feels badly for him is subsumed by the part that can't believe what kind of f'n moron would make the same mistake so many times.

Some of you read that and think, "No, my compassion is without limits." You're wrong. You, like me, are just lucky enough not to have experienced this first-hand to discover what that limit is.

At this point, I don't see how anyone is still in the shock or pity phase with the 2000s-era Democratic Party in Congress. It is impossible – or is possible for people who are of kinder heart than I – to do anything but hate them for their weakness. The way they make the same predictable mistakes over and over, the way the congressional Republicans openly bully them, and then mock them for rolling over every single time, was sad for a couple years. Maybe back during the W Bush era. Maybe it was still kind of pitiable to watch them all bow to hyperjingoism and decide to trust W on the Iraq War, even though anyone with half a brain – which includes most of them – knew that was going to go over like a lead balloon. But now it is long past being a sad sight. At this point, they know better. They've been through this process of getting boned dozens upon dozens of times. They "play nice" and act real Bipartisan-y and the GOP smiles and laughs and can't believe its luck, and then when the tables are turned the GOP response to literally everything is a middle finger extended in the face. There is no reason to expect it to turn out differently, ever. The sample size is large enough after nearly 20 years of this to conclude with confidence that, no, they have no interest in doing anything but using every last available tactic – hook or crook – to prevent a Democratic president or chamber majority from being able to get anything it wants.

They don't budge, ever. They are never going to. Had Hillary Clinton won, they would have refused to vote on her Supreme Court nominee indefinitely. For years, if necessary. Because that's how they operate, and anyone who does not understand that by now is not sad or pitiable. Anyone who does not get it by now is contemptible. Watch Lucy yank the football away from Charlie Brown once and it might seem funny. Then it's sad. Then you can't feel anything because you're too busy wondering why in god's name he keeps doing it over and over again and expecting a different result.