THE END OF SUMMER GAME

It’s Saturday, September 19, 2020. It’s 45 days until Election Day, and one of the last days of summer.

It’s the 100th birthday of Roger Angell, who is still around to celebrate it.

Unfortunately, what he can’t do is attend a Major League Baseball game. No fan can, thanks to this damn pandemic.

But few writers match his eloquence about my favorite sport, one of the greatest contributions America has made to civilization. His recaps of the seasons and the occasional leisurely story about a game or an aspect of the sport are why I subscribed to The New Yorker in the ‘80s and have since.

I know the Mets put a cardboard cutout of him in Citi Field this weekend. They mean well – but Roger Angell needs a full body. He makes baseball whole. His centennial is something to celebrate.

Of course, today is anything but a day for celebration.

At some point, either today or tomorrow, the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker will turn over at 200,000 deaths in the United States. MSNBC’s counter has already reached the grim milestone.

And there’s the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. In a sane, civil society, her passing would only be cause to celebrate her remarkable life and her contributions to equal protection under the law for all Americans.

But normal left town a long time ago.

Within two hours of the announcement, Mitch McConnell said he expects there will be a vote on Trump’s nominee – word-twisting his statement four years prior that the Senate shouldn’t take up a Supreme Court nomination before a presidential election.

There’s two ways of looking at that.

One is McConnell knows he has the Democrats over the barrel and has the opportunity to cement the nihilist Republican legacy no matter what happens on Nov. 3.

He might be right. If he picks a calm-looking nominee – a woman like Amy Coney Barrett – it’s going to be hard for Democrats to mount a scorched earth defense and not look bad in the process, no matter how obscene her judicial record.

The other way to look at it is that McConnell took the Democrats’ bait.

Yes, he might get his nominee – and that’s a big deal. But the price might be control of the Senate and the White House.

Forget the hypocrisy of McConnell’s position. He doesn’t give a damn – and neither does Trump or his knee-jerk Republican followers.

But focusing on a Supreme Court nominee while ignoring the other crisis – remember that COVID-19 thing – can’t be a good look.

McConnell has been sitting on proposals to help the millions of unemployed people, the small businesses getting crushed to death, and the states and cities on the brink of financial ruin from the COVID-induced recession.

Voters care about the court. They care more about whether or not they can feed themselves and their families.

If McConnell proceeds now, Joe Biden and the Democrats need to scream bloody murder – an expression my Democrat-to-her-last-breath Mom used to use – about how the Republicans are more interested in power than people.

Now, there’s always the chance McConnell can choose option C – take a Trump nominee, hold hearings and then not vote until he sees what happens in 45 days.

That’s a risk. If the Republicans hold the Senate, he gets his nominee passed, no matter what happens in the Biden-Trump race. 

But if they lose control, he’d be condemning the remaining Republicans – including himself, assuming polls are right and he holds off Amy McGrath’s challenge – to pariah status. 

And if the Democrats are smart, they work with what passes for moderate Republicans – Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, for example – and develop a legislative plan that gives them something for their constituents.

Actions matter. We don’t know how the next six and a-half weeks will play out. But it’s what happens, not what’s said, that will determine the America of the rest of the first half of this century.

No pressure.

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