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That Bad Smell
In case you haven’t noticed, we have a new president now. By any measure I can think of, that is a good thing. Even so, it will clearly be expensive and time-consuming to repair all the damage the former guy and his confederates have wreaked on our country. Indeed, the damage continues even now.

I have resolved, however, not to obsess about the previous occupant of the Oval Office. For my own mental health, I prefer to simply let him fade away like a bad smell. That mindset, unfortunately, has been difficult to maintain. The smell permeates everything, and I find my mind being drawn toward notions like justice, and righteousness, and the rule of law. And — I must admit — to punishment. For wrongs committed and for corruption of the good.

These are not bad thoughts per se, but left unchecked, they can lead back to the very obsession I am seeking to avoid. So I have adopted a new article of faith to guard against such temptations. It is simply this: 45 will avoid accountability for all of it — as he always has. There will be no jail time, no fines, no loss of influence other than by the passage of time and the world moving on. He will skate on all of it.

For some reason, I am finding that my acceptance of this as an outcome is oddly calming. It relieves me of the need to follow his every move or to keep track of the thorny legal jeopardies that entangle him. I don’t have to pay attention to his awful family or despicable defenders. Most of all, I am free of worrying whether he will ever get what he deserves. He won’t.

Let me be clear that I do not want to discourage those who are pursuing justice through investigation and the law. I cheer their efforts. But they will be fruitless. That is what I have chosen to believe.

This leap of faith has been a real time-saver and a cooling balm for my peace of mind. Better yet, should my article of faith ever prove to be ill-founded, if the Mar a Lago monster is made to take responsibility for his crimes, then I will be treated to a pleasant surprise and encouraged to believe that all is not lost and that better times lie ahead.

And if you were to ask me whether I care if he has a lamb chop duct taped to his butt and is towed through shark-infested waters or whether he is dipped in molten beryllium and dropped into the Marianas Trench or whether he is simply spayed, I will answer that I just don't care even a teeny, tiny bit.
But Why?
I will take, as my prime example, Rudy Giuliani.

Rudy had a morally spotty, albeit brilliant run as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and went on to become the mayor of New York City. He ran for president and actually led in the Republican polls for a while. In the days following 9/11, he become a symbol for American toughness and resilience.

His tombstone, had his public life had ended there, would have read “America’s Mayor,” and he might have received grudging respect even from his enemies. His legacy was certainly secure enough that he could spend the rest of his days as an elder statesman — a source of political savvy well beyond his own party. But that did not happen. Instead, he boarded the Trump train. Why?

In retrospect, it was a very poor decision. It is impossible now to think of Rudy Giuliani without that rivulet of hair dye flowing down his cheek, or of him holding forth in front of the Four Seasons Landscaping Company, or spouting wild-eyed gibberish on Fox News. It seems, furthermore, that some sort of grimy, quasi-traitorous criminality will soon be added to his lasting image in posterity. Right now, that tombstone is more likely to read “Craven Buffoon.”

Rudy seems to have made this choice freely, even eagerly. Indeed, large numbers of Republican politicians have followed the same course. I can understand their rationale for the short term — curry favor with Trump, and thereby keep their power — but what about the long term? I can’t imagine the Trump train heading anywhere but toward political oblivion. Unless this country falls into an abyss of authoritarianism and decline, these people will surely end up in the same cemetery of shame with Rudy.

Or so it seems to me. With the exception of Chris Christie and Bill Barr and the ever-slippery Mitch McConnell, however, they have made the calculation that no one will care or remember that they are serial liars and frauds. Chris and Bill and Mitch went with a simple show-me-the-proof strategy. That would seem like the perfect way to get out from under Trump and still keep your clout. Why the rest of them opted instead for total buy-in, I do not understand. It’s just so stupid.

Or maybe it isn’t stupidity, exactly. Rudy Giuliani isn’t stupid, I don’t think. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz aren’t stupid. You might argue that the people who actually believe the election was stolen (unlike Josh and Ted) are IQ-challenged, but I have come to believe that plain old stupidity does not explain that, either. So what is the answer to this puzzle? What is causing people to make such bad errors in judgment?

I have an answer, but I don’t really have much confidence in it. I don’t think I will ever really understand what is going on with these people. Anyway, my current theory pins the blame on some deep self-delusion. They want something to be true so badly, that they will believe it in spite of the evidence. For the Trump supporters, it’s the Big Lie (and all the other lies, no matter how easily disproven). For the seasoned politicians, it’s the belief that they can inherit Trump’s glory, such as it is. In both cases it’s nuts, but apparently they just can’t help it. So they just tell themselves that, despite the facts, the fantasy is real.

I’m still a little challenged to explain why they are so easily tempted by self-delusion. I don’t know anyone like Rudy Giuliani. I don’t have the slightest idea what kinds of dark motives are surging through him. I cannot grok his state of mind because I have nothing in my life to compare it to. The cultist mind of Trump followers is equally mysterious to me. Whether it manifests as part of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple or the world of MAGA, it is utterly alien to me. And yet, almost half the country is there, drinking the Kool-Aid.

In either case, I still come back to “why?”. Yes, it’s self-delusion, but so what? Yes, they’re cultists, yes they’re shameless political opportunists, yes they all live in a world of make believe. But it still makes no sense.

Maybe I should be glad of that. If it did make sense, then I’d be on the Trump train with them, and all of us would be headed for the abyss.
Now?
No, not now
We’re not
There yet

But normal
Will be back
You bet

So move
Half way and
We will let

You know
When you
Can get

Back all
The way
Don’t fret

Okay half way
Again
Then set

And don’t
Forget to cool
Your jet
The Book, the Book, the Book
I just uploaded another clipping from Head First, the Subconscious Comics-based graphic novel that is moving relentlessly toward completion. It’s on the Subcon page this week instead of one of the old strips. I don’t dare declare a date for publication yet, but I will say that I am, oh, 80% of the way there.

The end of the actual inking and coloring portion of the project is even closer, but I still have to conceptualize the cover, the dust jacket, and some big interior graphics. And then there’s the Kickstarter campaign, which is a whole different ball of strange wax. I will be giving you plenty of notice for the big send-off.

To the interest of somebody, I am sure, I have officially opened up a new category of Eaganblog: “Head First." That’s the title of the book. In case you’ve never noticed, the Categories section of the blog is there on the left of this page. This blog is in the new section, and there will be more to come as I near the finish line.

Meanwhile, the republication of vintage Subcons will continue. I have been posting them in reverse order on timeagan.com, and we are nearing the very first episode, which appeared in 1981. That’s number 1 of 1000 (give or take) comic strips. I have been seeing the de-evolution of my drawing style and characters as we go backward in time.

And speaking of characters, it has been an unexpected pleasure catching up with The Boss, Nemo, and Ava over the last year or two. They had been a big part of my internal world when I was cranking out a new Subconscious Comics strip every week for twenty years.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon