I’ve read stories about the dying process, about those who claim to have died and come back to life had this moment where they were in the upper corner of the room looking down on their dying selves and their loved ones grieving. Perhaps you’ve read those, too?
I don’t know whether when you die you actually watch yourself dying from the upper corner of the room. I’ll have to get back to you on that one day in the far future, hopefully.
But I had a similar sensation, that feeling of being on the outside looking in, following President Biden’s SOTU speech. As you most likely know by now, I’m in the UK studying for the next five months. I had no idea when I left home that mean-ass Putin would actually start a war on the Ukraine.
I did ask Tim if I should be worried about the inflammatory rhetoric coming out of Russia. He didn’t pooh-pooh it, but he didn’t imagine the situation we now find ourselves.
Because the SOTU speech was at 9 p.m. EST (2 a.m. UK time) I did not hear Biden’s speech live. Instead I rose at 4:30 a.m. and the first thing I did was check Twitter to see if Putin had dropped a nuke yet or not. Then I listened to Biden’s speech. It was not the sort of speech that compelled me to jump out of bed and holler “Hell yeah!” but that might be more about the time of day, than about the rhetoric. Fire and nukes will cause me to jump out of bed at the butt-crack of dawn but very little else.
While listening to the STOU, I did not see or hear the commotion caused by Congressional hyenas MTG and Lauren Boebert. Were it not for Social Media, I probably never would have known about their crass actions. But you know how Social Media is, they can be hyenas from a different family.
It was jarring to be on Social Media the day after the SOTU speech, primarily because of the content presented in the US vs. the content I was seeing here in the UK. I follow primarily news and writing sources in my Social Media. The “news” out of the US following the SOTU speech was exactly as Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert hoped it would be: People in the US were harping about this duo vs. the content of Biden’s speech.
I hopped over to YouTube and noticed that several of the news orgs filming the SOTU would zero in on what they hoped would be a contentious moment, showing the faces of McCarthy or Scalise or Graham or Manchin when they thought something Biden said would inflame them.
As someone looking from a distance now, it is unnerving to watch how Americans respond, at least on Social Media, to those chasing a headline/viral moment. The difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that one is consistently and purposefully being inflammatory. Republicans do this with no sense of social responsibility, or civility, and with a great deal of self-righteousness, which they claim is based on Biblical principles but which we all know is sheer exploitation.
The problem is that every single time they do this, Democrats respond like addicts chasing the next hit.
And it matters not if it is MTG and her racist sidekick, or if it’s Tuberville and Gaetz or Greene and Stefanik, they are all the same: Cravens chasing a viral moment.
And every single damn time, Democrats hand them exactly what they are after – that day’s headline, and that day’s top trending moment on Social Media.
While seemingly the whole of the Democratic party, including Jen Psaki whom I adore, were taking swipes at these Cravens of Congress, the people in the UK were caught up in the war in the Ukraine.
Nobody in the UK paid any attention whatsoever to what the Republicans were doing in the SOTU speech. They only wanted to know: Would the US intervene and what would that intervention look like?
Since I’ve arrived in the UK, people have commented about the pity of the Republican party, how they lost their way with Trump. From the inebriated woman drinking Smirnoff on the train, to the fellow explaining history of Paisley on the town square, to the professor waxing on about the UK’s own pitiful Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to authors talking about the shame of Scotland’s attack on women known as the Witch trials, which were really women unjustly put on trial.
They all have shaken their heads and bemoaned American losing our ever loving mind putting that wanker Trump in office.
I have to agree with them.
But they were not talking about MTG or LB or anyone else’s outbursts, they were talking about Zelensky and the strength of the Ukraine people, and whether or not Putin will use nuclear weapons, perhaps shoot them into the North Sea as a warning, and the oligarchs and why Boris Johnson is not holding the oligarchs accountable as he claimed he would do, and what if Ukraine falls, what will that mean for the rest of Europe and how this is ever so much a power grab that won’t be stopped until NATO intervenes.
Nobody, absolutely nobody, is carrying on about Ms. Greene or Ms. Boebert or how Biden was heckled.
Have you never watched British Parliament? Heckling is part of the procedures of the day. People in the UK ignore all that.
People in the US need to learn to sort out the important matters from the rhetoric meant to distract.
Democrats in particular need to take a cue and ignore the wankers in Congress while focusing on the issues that put us all at risk.
The real issue that should have made headlines coming out of the SOTU address is that Biden has promised not to escalate this war but to hold Putin accountable. Shouldn’t we start at home, first, by holding accountable those who are aiding and abetting Putin?
And most of all, shouldn’t we Democrats stop escalating the inflammatory rhetoric of the Republicans and follow the examples set by the Ukrainians: Fight with all our might to protect our country from those who mean to do it harm from inside or outside the US, instead of Twitter fighting over which Congressional craven is the foulest?
Karen Spears Zacharias, a Gold Star daughter, is a grad student at the University of West Scotland. Her forthcoming book, The Murder Gene: A True Story is available for pre-order now through your local Indie or wherever fine books are sold.