Lolita is Back…

Marilynn and I have been battling for years over the derivation and significance of Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov’s infamous 1955 novel. To refresh your memory, the first-person narrator is a middle-aged literature professor obsessed with a 12-year-old girl whom he nicknames Lolita and with whom he becomes sexually involved after marrying her mother. The premise is creepy, but the book is an acknowledged masterpiece of world literature often cited as one of the best books of the 20th century.

Our disagreement centers on her belief that the book could only have been written by someone who experienced or fantasized about what is described in its pages, while I think it’s a work of pure literary imagination. The Annotated Lolita unpacks my side of the story. The Nabokov text in The Annotated Lolita is 309 pages, but the book is itself is 455 pages, including Editor Alfred Appel Jr.’s 67-page introduction, 6 pages of bibliography, 6 pages of Nabokov notes, and 138 pages of annotations. Serious scholarship.

Now…why am I talking about Lolita? It’s because the same creepy, icky subject matter is swarming around us again – but this time it’s not a work of literary imagination. Real people are involved.

The flood gates opened a couple of years ago: for months in 2018-2019 we were treated to salacious tales of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual obsession with teenaged masseuses and questionable friendships with Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, Bill Clinton and others, until it ended last year with his suicide in a rat infested New York jail.

Now, it’s Representative Matt Gaetz, the Trump whisperer, who’s under investigation, suspected of sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl and other possible crimes. And, while that saga plays out, HBO’s four-part series Allen v. Farrow reminds us that Woody Allen and Mia Farrow have been fighting since 1992 over her accusation that he sexually violated their 7-year-old adopted daughter Dylan, now 35.

Yes, Lolita is back or least the syndrome is. A recent New Yorker article revisited the case of Joyce Maynard, the 18-year-old Harvard freshman who became J.D. Salinger’s lover when he was 53. More about that later.

I have skeletons in my closet too, but none of them are teenagers. Tell me, what’s the lure? Is it their innocence? The sweet smell of youth? The risky “game?” Or is it a sickness? Anthropologists tell us girls are fertile and ready for sex when they begin menstruation. That’s the rule in primitive cultures but ours draws a line. The age differs in various jurisdictions but in America it’s a crime to have sex with an underage girl or “to induce someone cross state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or anything of value.” This was Jeffrey Epstein’s problem. Now, it’s Matt Gaetz’s problem.

Like Lolita, the whole thing is both creepy and criminal. Epstein and Gaetz, assuming the latter is implicated, were trafficking teenage girls for sex. It’s close to child pornography – another variation on the theme.

These subjects don’t touch most of us. But they can. Several years ago, I discovered that someone I knew had done prison time for possessing a huge cache of compromising photographs of children. He was the father of my son’s friend, a husband and well-respected doctor in the community. So, what’s that about? Is it more deviant than being romantically involved with a teenager? I suppose it depends on whether it was acted upon. In that case, it’s even more deviant. As an aside: while there was no evidence that he acted on his obsession, when he was released from prison one of the straightest smartest women I know began a relationship with him. Go figure…

Nabokov was a provocateur. My friend and classmate, Frederick “Hoddy” Schepman, chose graduate school at Cornell because Nabokov taught there, specifically because he taught a graduate course in which Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, the 19th century’s scandalous novel about an unfaithful young wife, was the only text. Nabokov believed it was the greatest novel ever written. But, then again, maybe not. Nabokov was a shape-shifting provocateur.

At the end of Madame Bovary and Lolita the title characters die. Emma Bovary commits suicide with arsenic and Lolita dies in childbirth. These are not happy stories and many of the real-life stories of older men and very young women are even harder to read. What about the women?

Last week, Joyce Maynard discussed the phenomenon in a Vanity Fair article about what J.D. Salinger and Woody Allen have in common. She answers the question by saying, “The world knows them as iconic artists whose work transformed the cultural landscape of America. I see them both as predatory men with a taste for teenagers. Both possess the outlook of aging cynics who idealize and seek out innocence and—having done so—destroy it. Here comes another disturbing similarity in their stories: In the case of each of these celebrated men, when a woman has dared to shine a light on their dark and disturbing behavior—in Allen’s case, possibly criminal behavior, which he continues to deny—their supporters close ranks in the manner of a human shield. Often with stunning success, they deflect allegations made against the object of their devotion and turn on the person responsible for delivering them. That person would be a woman.”

Maynard knows from experience. At 67, she has spent the last 50 years trying to become something or someone other than the predatory tramp who besmirched the reputation of a great novelist. And she has. In those same 50 years she has written 11 novels and 9 works of non-fiction yet her reputation is frozen in relation to Salinger. Women who act as she did are shamed, dismissed, devalued, humiliated and demonized. Older men who prey on young women are often excused with a wink as in “boys will be boys.” Lolita is fiction. Matt Gaetz is a sitting U.S. Representative and the 17-year-old girl he’s accused of trafficking is a real person. It’s time for a reckoning.

Marilynn and I will continue to disagree about Lolita. I recognize it’s controversial but think it’s great art. She focuses on the depravity of the predator and the unforgivable violation of the child. I get it. I feel the way she does about Epstein and Gaetz but I’ve tucked Humbert Humbert and Lolita away in an art-for-art’s-sake silo. If we’re going to forgive, let’s forgive Joyce Maynard, Monica Lewinsky, and all the other women who have been shamed for falling in love with older men who knew better but preyed on teenage girls. 

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palette to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” (The opening lines of Nabokov’s Lolita.)

Photos by Penguin Books, MGM, and New York Pos

What’s Next for Us?

I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering how America got itself into the current dystopian mess – hate crimes, mass murderers, white supremacists, voter suppression, QAnon, and thousands of American “patriots” storming the US Capitol, with some intent on murdering the Vice President for performing his Constitutional duty. Maybe if we knew how we got here we could turn things around. The question is how did we get here?

Three recent Supreme Court cases may tell the story. They are:

1. Bush v. Gore (2000)

2. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010)

3. Shelby County v. Holder (2013)

I’m not alone in the view that these cases were wrongly decided. It’s arguable that the current political s**tstorm can be traced to one or more of these decisions. Undeniably, there were other contributing factors (Vietnam, Watergate, Iran Contra, and Clinton/Lewinsky), but these three cases, decided in this millennium can still be amended, reversed, or worked over and bring us back to a state of equilibrium.

There are scholars who would disagree, but these decisions have had a outsized impact on where we are as a country today. It’s important to note that they were not decided on principles explicitly enumerated and/or debated by the authors of the Constitution or tied to any particular orientation such as originalist, textualist and other jurisprudential interpretations. All three were 5-4 decisions based on political results rather than Constitutional principles.

  • Bush v. Gore was a one-off case that turned on the 2000 presidential vote count in Florida. The count was disputed, and the Supremes remanded the case to the Florida court for adjudication. A recount was ordered and initiated in several Florida counties. Immediately, with no clear winner, the Bush team, led by James Baker, filed a petition to stop the recount with Bush leading by 327 votes. There were contentious disputes over “hanging chads,” mail-in ballots, uncounted ballots, differences in how votes were counted, and timing. It is unclear why, but the US Supreme Court bought Baker’s argument and stopped the recount thereby giving the Florida electors to Bush. That raised Bush’s total to 271 electors – one more than needed to win – and decided America’s future for generations to come.
    • Democrats should have challenged based on the one-man one-vote principle expressed in the Supreme Court’s Baker v. Carr (1962) decision. If every vote counts as in “one-man, one-vote”  then why didn’t the Supreme Court follow through with the recount?
      • According to legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, “Bush v. Gore broke Justice David Souter’s heart. “The day the music died,” he called it. It was so political, so transparently political, that it scarred Souter’s belief in the Supreme Court as an institution.” (emphasis in original)
      • Adding to the politicization of that decision were the following: 1. on the eve of the election Sandra Day O’Connor made a public statement that a Gore victory would be a personal disaster for her. 2. While her husband was considering how to rule on who would become the next President, Clarence Thomas’s wife was so intimately involved in the Bush campaign that she was helping to draw up a list of Bush appointees and finally, 3. Antonin Scalia’s son was working for the firm appointed by Bush to argue his case before the Supreme Court, the head of which was subsequently appointed as Solicitor-General.
    • The court awarded the presidency to Bush and Gore graciously conceded in the interest of national unity.
    • 9/11 happened nine months later. To Bush’s credit the crisis was well managed and an abundance of goodwill created worldwide.
    • We will never know how Gore would have handled the crisis, but it is inconceivable that he would have been squandered all that goodwill and sympathy for the US with an invasion of Iraq based on false intelligence about WMD. 
      • This was a Cheney/Bush strategy to redeem George H.W. Bush’s reputation for not pursuing Saddam Hussein all the way to Baghdad during Desert Storm. 
      • Consider the consequences of that decision and the rabbit hole it created in the Middle East.
  • Ten years later, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that FEC rules limiting corporate spending in elections were an infringement on the corporation’s First Amendment free speech rights. It had blocked Citizens United, a conservative non-profit, from promoting and airing a film critical of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the presidential primaries and a lower court upheld the FEC position. Citizens United sued to reverse that decision.
    • The regulations in question were based on 100-year-old statutes intended to prevent corruption in federal elections. The court’s decision insured that corporations would henceforth be regarded as “citizens” for purposes of federal litigation. The spigot was open for unlimited contributions.
    • Dark money” from anonymous donors set new records for influencing elections in the decade following the Citizens United decision. Dark money groups have reported nearly $1 billion in direct spending on U.S. elections to the FEC since Citizens United. 
    • For every dollar in dark money by groups that do not fully disclose their donors in the decade before Citizens United, at least $10 were spent in the decade after. (OpenSecrets.org). 
    • Citizens United suggests our elections are for sale while undermining voter faith in the incorruptibility of elections.
  • The final case in this triad is Shelby County v. Holder, a 2013 case brought by several jurisdictions to strike a requirements in the 1965 Voting Rights Act that required certain states and local governments with a history of “invasive and insidious” racial discrimination in voting to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws and practices.
    • The Roberts court in a 5-4 decision ruled the preclearance requirement unconstitutional because the disparate treatment of these states was “based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relationship to the present day” and thus not responsive to current needs.
    • The Court held that Congress cannot subject a state to preclearance based simply on past discrimination, noting that since the coverage formula was last modified in 1975, the country “has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions”
    • By 2018, five years after the ruling, nearly 1,000 U.S. polling places had closed, many of them in predominantly African American counties. There were also cuts to early voting, purges of voter rolls and imposition of strict voter ID laws.
    • A 2020 study found that jurisdictions that had been covered by preclearance requirements substantially increased their voter registration purges after the Shelby decision. (Wikipedia)
    • Since the inauguration of President Biden, 43 states have introduced more than 250 bills intended to restrict or suppress voter participation, including all the jurisdictions that required preclearance under the Shelby County ruling. 

The Declaration of Independence and Constitution notwithstanding, America has a checkered history when it comes to voting rights. 

  1. At the time of the Declaration only white male property owners were allowed to vote and the Constitution counted negroes as 3/5 of a person for census purposes but did not allow them to vote.
  2. In 1865, the 13th Amendment was passed ending slavery in the US but did not give negroes voting rights.
  3. In 1870, passage of the 15th Amendment prohibited discrimination in voting based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” technically ensuring negroes the right to vote but ushering in the era of Jim Crow prohibitions denying them voting rights.
  4. In 1920, the 19th Amendment guaranteed women the right to vote.
  5. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act gave the Federal Election Commission “preclearance” authority over states with a history of racial discrimination to review any changes to election law.
  6. In 2013 the Voting Rights Act was stripped of its preclearance provision and a new era of voter suppression initiated.

As a Constitutional law student in the ‘60s, I observed the Warren Court lean left to protect racial minorities and the disenfranchised. In the 70s and 80s I saw the court move center right under the leadership of Chief Justices Burger and Rehnquist and regarded it as a normal reaction to a left-leaning Warren Court. But it was the Bork, Thomas, and Kavanaugh confirmation hearings that convinced me the process was corrupted and stripped of any pretense of neutrality. The Court is now an unpredictable political instrument based lifetime appointments by whomever happens to have the power when there was a vacancy.

Governmental change comes at a glacial pace. I won’t live long enough to see the changes I think are needed, but I believe they are possible. Social scientists have documented an “optimism bias” in humans. Optimism is hard to come by these days, but I’m a subscriber.

The changes needed involve rethinking the electoral process (Electoral College), protecting voting rights (uniform rules to ensure all voters have access and opportunity), a Constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United to control election spending, and the possible implementation of term limits or additional Justices to the Supreme Court.

By today’s standards, these are radical changes, but we need them to bring democratic practices up to date and ensure a more even-handed justice.

  • The electoral college is an outdated relic of an earlier age and needs to be updated.
    • Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution is the foundation document for the Electoral College, but is universally criticized for: 
      1. Making “swing states” more important than the others
      2. Permitting the election of a candidate who does not win the most votes
      3. Allowing the winner-take-all feature to cancel the votes cast for the losing candidate
  • Voting rights should be uniform, fair, and ensure access for all Americans. HR 1 and SR 1, two bills now before Congress would insure this.
  • Money should not determine the outcome of an election.Citizens United v. Holder should be reversed. Yesterday I received a solicitation from Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer rights advocacy group, asking me to support passage of a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that would deny corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts of money in electoral politics. So far, 22 states and 800 cities have passed resolutions supporting the amendment and polls show 3 out of 4 Americans support it as well.
  • Supreme Court justice should not be subject to the partisan whims of electoral politics. Term limits, expanding the number of justices, and/or the periodic rotation of justices would help minimize the politics and restore faith in the institution. Legislators are elected and can be voted out. Justices oversee and enforce the law but lifetime appointments make them essentially above the law. This can be modified to assure fairness.

We can’t turn the clock back; we have to live with the consequences of Bush v. Gore, the Iraq invasion, the Trump phenomenon, the appointment of 3 conservative Supreme Court justices and 200 federal judges with lifetime appointments, and an abundance of race related murders. This is a critical time in our history, a time to reflect on what kind of a country we want and what kind of government will enable us to get there.

Is it too much to ask citizens and elected officials to act for the common good? Other countries do it. Why has it become so difficult for us? Can American individualism subordinate itself in order to arrive at a collective good to restore a functional system. The jury is out; Congress is stalemated and unable to function, our roads, bridges are falling apart, our airports are third world quality, we have no rail system, and every day we wake up to news of gun violence. We are losing our advantage in tech innovation, medical devices, space exploration, and, most of all, our quality of life. We need strong leadership with vision and good values. My optimism bias says we can come together in a bipartisan way in spite of our recent past. But, we need to move decisively if we’re going to recapture the innovation advantage and live up to our professed ideals. 

A Modern Adaptation…

World leaders, especially our own, should have heeded Bill Gates’ warning. In a 2015 TED Talk he told the audience “if anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes.”

He was right, of course, and had it not been for that virus I might never have spent five days watching a thoroughly modern adaptation of Prokofiev’s ballet of Romeo et Juliette and ruminating over its contemporary application.

Like other arts organizations, Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) was prevented from having live performances and a normal season. Instead, it’s struggling to survive with a virtual one. M and I renewed our subscription, but our expectations were low. We renewed to support the company through these tough times. 

Romeo et Juliette, was the first of PNB’s 2021 digital stage programs. It’s definitely not your mother’s Romeo and Juliet (or Shakespeare’s). This adaptation is the creation of Jean-Christophe Maillot, choreographer and director of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, one of the most innovative dance companies on the planet. Maillot’s version tells the story from Friar Laurence’s conflicted point of view as the lovers’ facilitator. All of this on a minimalist stage.

The first time I saw Prokofiev’s ballet it was with Kenneth MacMillan’s choreography starring Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn. He was 29. She was 48, but emerging stage right from the wings of the San Francisco Opera House she was the teenaged Juliet. Unforgettable.

The story, one of Shakespeare’s best known and most accessible, has inspired many other artists in different genres. Tchaikovsky composed a symphonic version (excerpts often used for ballet). Prokofiev wrote the 2-hour score for ballet. Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins created the musical theater version as West Side Story, and according to Goodreads more than 103 novels have been written based it. This fall Steven Spielberg plans to release an updated film version of West Side Story with Tony Kushner as screenwriter and two young unknown actors in the title roles. 

Romeo and Juliet in all its iterations is a high art. It’s a touching romance, but its core is tragedy. It’s about a turf war in Verona or in later versions on New York’s West Side. Warring factions, provocateurs, racial strife, murder, family conflict, secrets and denials, potent drugs, duplicity, with an ineffectual priest acting as facilitator. 

Good art is always thought provoking, especially Shakespeare’s, and as I watched the drama unfold with the heartbreaking beauty of Noemie Pantastico and James Moore’s dancing I thought about the recent assault on our nation’s Capitol and the catastrophic division it revealed.

It may seem a stretch but, like the play/ballet, there were provocateurs inciting the riot (Trump, Giuliani, Congressman Mo Brooks) and warring factions (Proud Boys and Capitol Police), death and destruction. But they were not foreign adversaries. They were our countrymen.

Like the play there was murder, duplicity, and racial strife in abundance. The basis of both stories is an unwillingness to deal with the truth. Failure to respect and tolerate differences led to death and destruction in both. Until recently, we liked to think of America as a civilized society with safeguards in place to keep it so.

But, just as a malevolent Mercutio taunted and provoked Tybalt and drew Romeo into a conflict he didn’t want to be part of, so Trump taunted and inflamed his followers and created a frenzied murderous mob then stepped aside and let them do his dirty work.

Mercutio dies because Tybalt’s pride is challenged. Tybalt dies to avenge Mercutio’s death. Romeo dies because the message about Juliet’s slumber is delayed. Juliet dies of grief. Officer Sicknick died because the police reinforcements/National Guard are withheld. Ashli Babbitt is shot and killed because she mistakenly believes Trump’s lie about a stolen election.

We mourn the deaths of the young “star-crossed” lovers. They’ve tapped into our humanity and touched our emotional core. Their deaths may even have brought the warring families together in their grief. This is a romantic tragedy not a real one.

The insurrection on January 6th was a real tragedy. On that day, the day Congress was set to certify the presidential election, an aggrieved would-be despot having exhausted all legal remedies to overturn that election and desperate to hang on to power invited thousands of his followers to the Ellipse, near the White House for a Save America Rally. Refusing to concede the election and having fed them lies and disinformation for months, he and his posse incited the raucous crowd to storm the Capitol then stepped aside and let them do his dirty work.

They overwhelmed the police line, trashed and ransacked the American Capitol. Six people died. 140 police officers were injured, Senators and Representatives barely escaped, cowering in closets and undisclosed locations in the capitol complex. The election certification was disrupted for more than 8 hours. It was a violent attempted coup d’etat. It was unsuccessful but revealed the fragility of our democracy.

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet ends with these lines:

A glooming peace this morning with it brings,

The sun for sorrow will not show its head.

Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things,

Some shall be pardoned and some punished.

For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

Maybe not, but the insurrection on January 6, 2021 may be “of more woe.”

Politics and Friendship…

Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is a man of few words. He is the boyfriend of Mme. Precious Ramotswe, the title character in Alexander McCall Smith’s literary series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. A car mechanic by trade, Mr. Matekoni is a simple man – wise and laconic. When asked to explain something, he often responds with “I have no more words,” a phrase I sometimes use when M and I are in the midst of a heated discussion.

Today, I’m speechless as I watch our newly inaugurated president fight to restore order to a country reeling from an assault on its capitol while addressing the need to vaccinate the entire population against a killer virus, repair the damage to our place in the international community and deal with long lines at food banks, police brutality, immigration crises and racial division. I, literally, have no more words.

After the 2016 presidential election an old friend chided me with the phrase “Elections have consequences.” I wanted to be reasonable and told him I knew that was true but hoped conservative Republicans could have found a smarter, better informed candidate. I knew the one that had been elected was going to be trouble but had no idea how much trouble.

Over the four Trump years, my friend’s politics seemed to move in lockstep with the administration’s. After the 2020 election, I reminded him that “Elections have consequences” but now his response has a harder edge. He disputes Joe Biden’s election victory. He hates Obama. He hates Hillary. He hates and fears socialism. He wants the old America… the one he grew up in.

The funny thing is, he and I grew up in exactly the same America. We both were raised in Seattle. We went to public schools. He graduated from Cleveland High. I went to Roosevelt. He went to Whitworth University in Spokane. I went to the University of Washington in Seattle. We played tennis on public courts, skied in the Cascades, both became Naval aviators, and flew commercially for Pan Am. Both families were solidly middle class.

How did our political perspectives end up so far apart? I have no words to explain it.

Is he still a friend? He is. We might not ever get together again. He lives in Carmel and I’m in Seattle, but we still email and Facebook occasionally. I like him personally but wonder where his politics came from. I don’t agree that people can’t remain friends because of political differences. After all, if George and Kellyanne Conway can stay married, surely two old pilots can maintain their friendship. We might not if we burrow in and don’t let go of our differences. We can still joke about our politics but need to keep it light. I know we could bridge our differences if we could just make a couple of powder runs together or play some tennis. We were both pretty good back in the day.

Here’s the moral vector of this story; it’s likely we will both die in the next ten years, and I don’t want any lingering resentments as that day approaches. He and I both have strong opinions about how government should work and the people we think it should serve. So did John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. they too had major differences and after a long period of not speaking to each other reconciled and resumed their friendship. They died within five hours of one another on July 4, 1826 – exactly 50 years after signing the Declaration of Independence. That’s how I’d like it to be with my old friend too. Given the current state of the nation, I think it’s best to defer to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni… I have no more words.

A Different Ending…

You can’t make it up. Or…maybe you can. A TV celebrity with a reputation for infidelity plays at being POTUS, the President of the United States? What could go wrong with casting like this? Could it possibly have a happy ending? Suspend your disbelief for a New York minute.

After a successful state dinner with the French president and his wife, but with his teenage child living in the White House, he pursues a woman, not his wife. They have sex. Headlines in all the papers. He refuses to comment. The press camps out at her apartment hoping to get a statement.

All the while, he’s running for re-election. His numbers are tanking. The vultures are circling. He’s tangling with the press, still refuses to comment, screws up a crime bill, fights with gun control activists and the fossil fuel lobby. His staff scrambles to save his presidency. Sound familiar? How could it possibly end happily? He loses. Right?

Wrong! President Andrew Shepherd and Sydney Ellen Wade live happily ever after. 

This is the storyline of The American President, the 1995 Michael Douglas, Annette Bening film. The happy ending is the result of a Shepherd epiphany i.e., a sausage making compromise for the sake of a political win may end up costing you your soul and the things you really value. It’s a love story. Watch it. It may restore your faith in the goodness of humanity—maybe even the American presidency.

I watched it last night, a calming soporific after seeing the spineless Republicans vote not to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the assault on the Capitol Building and ransacking the House and Senate chambers. It made me want to live in Andrew Shepherd’s world not the one inhabited by Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Jim Jordan, and Marjorie Taylor Greene. 

The irony here, is what goes around comes around. It turns out Ted Cruz stole a line from The American President when Trump insulted his wife, Heidi, in 2016. In the film, President Shepherd tells his political rival, played by Richard Dreyfuss, “You want a character debate, Bob? You better stick with me, ’cause Sydney Ellen Wade is way out of your league.” That’s almost the exact language Cruz used to defend his wife’s honor when Trump derided her looks. Apparently, Ted’s grievance and Heidi’s ego have been salved. Ted is center stage, where he’s always wanted to be, defending The Donald’s big lie of a stolen election. He’s all in now and prostituting himself in the second impeachment. 

It isn’t surprising that The American President and The West Wing (now streaming on Netflix) are having a big resurgence in popularity. We want to see a functional government, but the Trump hangover is lingering. We want to see and hear a real president in charge. I suggest Aaron Sorkin, the author of both The American President and The West Wing be installed in the West Wing and write the script for President Biden. His lines are crisp, witty, and memorable. We know Joe is a capable Commander in Chief, but it would be the cherry on top if we could hear four more seasons of Sorkin dialogue.