Column: The state of things now is a pretty how-de-do

  • Will Lange. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

For the Valley News
Published: 1/5/2021 10:10:24 PM
Modified: 1/5/2021 10:10:15 PM

We walk in the park, Kiki and I, almost every day, exchanging greetings (and dog treats) with almost everyone we meet. The customary salutation this week is “Happy New Year!” which I return with enthusiasm; yet, recalling the year just past, at the beginning of which we wished each other the same thing, I’m a bit skeptical of its effectiveness. It’s rather like saying, “Gesundheit!” when somebody sneezes. We need a stronger charm.

This new, current year has dawned with an incredible overload of news. No; “news” doesn’t describe it. “Phantasmagoria” is more like it. He-who-has-had-us-by-the-ears for over four years now is not yet willing to let us go. Aided and encouraged, perhaps, by a coterie of sycophants, he engages daily in ever more bizarre behavior: Witness his recent call to the Georgia secretary of state. I feel for poor Bernie Sanders; his usual explosion — “Outrage!” — doesn’t begin to cut it.

I’m writing this to the wail of a multiple-tsunami warning. The polls will close in Georgia on Tuesday, and the votes counted (and recounted, and certified) who knows when? On Wednesday, Congress will meet to accept — but not quite; a revolution in the ranks is in the works — the results of the Electoral College’s conclusion. That same day — we’ll know by the time any of you read this — the armed low-life champions of justice, encouraged by the outgoing president and opposed, perhaps, by “anti-fascists,” will be visiting our nation’s Capitol to protest the probable outcome of the proceedings inside.

And no one can know what the rest of the week will bring. Allegedly, the presentation of the Medal of Freedom to Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan. A major attack on Iran, perhaps; Dear Leader is consolidating military forces in the Middle East.

It’s clearly time for those of us who, in spite of the isolation of the pandemic, haven’t yet lost our minds to take a deep breath or two, cuddle our cat or dog, listen to a classical guitar (as I am just now, playing “Für Elise” — lovely!), and try to find some humor wherever we can. One angry Trumpist, for example, has just lightened my mood by vowing — should the congressional vote go against the president’s fantastical hopes — to leave the country completely and move to Alaska.

Or, viewing the scenes unfolding before us, we might sing, or Google on YouTube, the trio of Yum-Yum, Nanki-Poo and Ko-Ko singing Here’s a How-De-Do. Because we surely are facing one: a deeply divided Congress, political leaders coyly urging “Second Amendment solutions,” “Stand back and stand by,” or suggesting that any resolution might depend upon armed insurrection. With no time left for legal maneuvers, the opposition is counting days and hoping for the best. A little lilting music, plus the post from the American emigré to Alaska, can help us cope.

Hoping to gain a little insight into the character of the man who has so mesmerized millions of my fellow citizens, I picked up a copy of Mary Trump’s Too Much and Never Enough, in which she essays to show how he got the way he is. As I read — without a doctorate in psychology or an ax to grind — I became aware that she, of the said degree, indeed has an ax to grind. There were no fresh revelations for me about the genesis of the president’s fairly obvious pathology; but the description of Trump family life in “The House” and the interactions between the kids and their parents, as well as among themselves, was further enlightening. That place was a snake pit.

Of particular interest was Donald’s attempt, as his father, Fred Trump, began to succumb to Alzheimer’s disease, to revise his failing father’s will and wrest from him complete control of his corporation. Donald’s lawyers happened to present the codicil to the old man on one of his lucid days. Smelling a rat, he refused to sign. His wife turned it over to a lawyer experienced in such matters, and shortly afterward all four surviving children were guaranteed equal shares.

At a family birthday party in 2017, Mary writes, “I could see that Donald was under a kind of stress he’d never experienced before. ... (T)he disparity between the level of competence required for running a country and his incompetence has widened, revealing his delusions more starkly than ever before.” Many of us could see that long before 2017. So while we sing our happy tunes, unable to affect what’s happening, we can only hope those delusions soon find a home somewhere else.

Willem Lange can be reached at

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