TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2021
It's perfectly understandable: Last night, the fury continued on cable. We refer to the fury aimed at the widely reviled Senator Manchin and at nobody else.
During the 10 o'clock hour, Lawrence did something very unusual. He joined former senator Bob Kerrey in expanding the possible field of play for those expressing their anger.
No, Virginia! Senator Manchin hasn't made himself into a "one-man" firewall blocking Build Back Better. Fifty other United States senators are flatly opposed to the bill, including senators with names like Romney, Murkowski, Collins and Sasse, but also with names like these:
Blunt, Burr, Cassidy, Cornyn, Ernst, Fischer, Lankford and Portman!
What about names like Toomey, Thune, (Tim) Scott? Why don't those names get mentioned? What shields them from the fury, the anger?
Fellow citizens, can we talk? Each of those fifty Others could become the 50th vote passing Build Back Better!
At present, Build Back Better is bottled up because it's opposed by (at least) 51 United States senators. Believe it or croak, more than half the United States Senate opposes Biden's bill!
Senator Murkowski is a "one person" firewall; so is Senator Romney. But their names are almost never mentioned as the anger rolls.
The fury is aimed at Senator Manchin. He's the one-man band defeating the bill, according to the current prevailing framework / Storyline.
As the enjoyable fury spreads, The Others go unmentioned. Democrats restrict themselves to attacking one of their own.
Last night, Rep. Jayapal came on TV and Rachel enabled her passive / aggressive approaches. In turn, Lawrence enabled Rachel before he and Kerrey expanded the scope of the discussion.
(Kerrey, once a major Democratic governor / senator, effusively praised Manchin's overall work in the Senate.)
Should people be angry with Senator Manchin? It's pretty much as you like it.
Anger is a familiar human reaction. According to Psychology Today, it's "one of the basic human emotions, as elemental as happiness, sadness, anxiety, or disgust."
In a wide range of circumstances, anger may even save lives. That said, anger can also appear in situations where it isn't especially helpful.
This brings us the letters in yesterday's New York Times. Those letters referred to a recent column by Charles Blow.
For starters, let's say this—the recent column by Blow is fully understandable. Yesterday, under a slightly softened headline, the Times published seven (7) letters about it.
All seven writers hailed Blow for his wisdom and his insight. Blow's column had carried this headline:
I’m Furious at the Unvaccinated
The column wasn't about Joe Manchin. It wasn't about Build Back Better. The column was about the pandemic, and about those who still refuse the vaccines.
Blow didn't say that he was angry at such people. In his headline, but also in his column, he said that he was "furious."
(It's our understanding that regular columnists in the Times compose their own headlines.)
Charles Blow is often furious, as New York Times readers will know. That doesn't mean that his column was "wrong" in some obvious way, or that the fury he expressed wasn't perfectly understandable.
Blow's anger is understandable. After saying that one of his friends is still avoiding vaccination, he offered his overview:
BLOW (12/8/21): I am angry, not just with my friend but with all the people who are choosing not to get vaccinated.
There was a point, earlier on in the pandemic, when vaccines were still scarce, when I tried to be tolerant with the holdouts, tried not to shame them, tried not to be angry with them, tried to allow them time to educate themselves about the benefits of getting vaccinated.
But that time has long since passed for me. Call me one of the intolerant. That’s what I am. I will not coddle willful ignorance anymore. I will not indulge the fool’s errand of “I’m still doing my own research” anymore, either.
Earlier in the pandemic, Blow had "tried to be tolerant." As it turns out, those days are now long gone:
BLOW: I have heard all the reasons for resistance. There are the people who have politicized the virus and see getting vaccinated through a partisan lens. There are the people who view government pressure, and especially mandates, to put something in your body as overreach and anathema to the American ideal of independence and freedom. There are people who don’t trust the government, sometimes with good reason.
I have heard it all. And I reject it all.
There are just too many fresh graves pocking the land to entertain these objections. And too many lives disrupted, as people grieve lost loved ones, alter their employment, and keep their children home from school.
So yes, I am furious at the unvaccinated, and I am not ashamed of disclosing that. I am no longer trying to understand them or educate them. Barriers to access have fallen. The only reason for remaining unvaccinated that I now accept is from people who have medical conditions that prevent it.
All others have a choice to either be part of the solution or part of the problem. The unvaccinated are choosing to be part of the problem.
That's the way his column ended. He's not just furious at The Others, he is proudly so.
He's "no longer trying to understand." He's now expressly "intolerant."
Anger is a normal human emotion. It's built into the human system, the system we all allegedly share.
Sometimes, an angry reaction will actually save a person's life. But anger isn't always helpful. For that matter, neither is fury.
That said, seven letters appeared in yesterday's Times. "Bravo, Mr. Blow," one of the letters said.
As it turned out, all seven letter writers are furious at the unvaccinated too. As we noted on Saturday, the second caller to C-Span's Washington Journal that day described these Others as "scum."
We're not sure that anger like this is helpful. Similarly, we're not sure that the anger being aimed at the Senate's alleged "one-man band" is especially helpful either.
Tomorrow, we'll look at a column from 2019 suggesting that we might try, a bit more often, to "beat back our great anger." Might a different approach to such matters perhaps produce better results?
Should we "try a little tenderness?" Might that produce better outcomes for our flailing political tribe?
Warning! In the end, which may be approaching fast, there will be no way to be sure.
Tomorrow: Recommending a little tenderness back in 2019