Of Cathy And Elise

Last week New York Republican Representative Elise Stefanik continued her stupid act. (I have every reason to believe that she is actually intelligent so I have resorted to using the word “act”.) Elise paraphrased Ronald Reagan asking voters if they were better off today than four years ago. I’ll take the liberty of a few days in my illustrations and then answer her question.

On March 17, 2020 – four years ago today – I visited my primary care provided. It was St. Patrick’s Day and Cathy being of Irish ethnicity made is especially special. America was at the beginnings of the pandemic, sans a vaccine and to tell the truth still sorting things out. Cathy left me with perhaps the wisest nine words of advice I have ever received, “Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands”. I went home to basic isolation for months, followed Cathy’s sage advice and stayed healthy.

Most of us would like to forget the pandemic, especially its early days, but in fairness to the two ladies in question let me review my experience (and, for a variety of reasons, I made out much better than most). In those days we lived in fear of interaction with others. For months my wife and I had no house guests save one friend who we knew basically isolated minus her interactions with us. My wife sewed thousands of masks that she donated to front line medical personnel (including surgeons). The hospitals in my area (the Triangle has great medical care) did an adequate job of providing medical staff with masks in the hospital but not outside the building. None of the (mainly) nurses who picked them up came into our home. It was strictly porch pickup, text communication and waving through windows.

One of my chores was to go to the kiosk and get the mail. Before we brought it in the townhouse, we disinfected it. We did the same with groceries which we picked up in the stores’ parking lots. It turned out to be overkill but as liberal as we are politically, we are conservative when it comes to our health. Lots of Lysol used. Sorry Mr. Trump, despite your advice, we were smart enough not to ingest or inject it.

I think the nation was going more and more to online shopping but the pandemic exacerbated that. I remember disinfecting deliveries, many times putting them out in the sun for hours as part of the process.

One of my greatest joys at this point in my life are my book club meetings. I really enjoy the interactions with a bunch of smart people whom I consider myself lucky to have as friends. The meetings were on Zoom for months because it was not safe to gather in person. I just wasn’t the same.

Family gatherings were flat out cancelled. One of my grandchildren graduated from college (with honors) remotely. They watched their “ceremonies” on a computer in a Walmart parking lot. Unlike most, I’m not a big ceremony person but…

I didn’t see, let alone hug, any of my grandkids the remainder of 2020. Travel was something I’d even remotely consider. A visit was a FaceTime call.

I am among the many that delayed medical treatment and testing. If it wasn’t obviously life threatening, I wouldn’t even consider it. I’m glad I didn’t need the emergency room. Visiting one, assuming you could get in, was literally risking your life four years ago.

In early 2020 my wife and I had decided we wanted to learn to speak and read Spanish. We had to cancel plans because in person classroom instruction was out of the question and other methods didn’t work well for us. (Could be a Baby Boomer thing.) By the way, English only speaking Americans need to learn Spanish, among other reasons, because more disinformation is on the less well “policed” Spanish language media than English language media.

I was much more fortunate than many of my fellow Americans for a variety of reasons. One thing that did adversely affect me was that my cost of living went up with the pandemic. Trump’s mismanagement of the pandemic hurt the economy so badly that three rounds of “stimulus” checks were necessary. (Yes, I know the last one went out under Biden but it was only necessary because of Trump’s poor management.) Republicans: Do you really want to talk about the cost of living?

Among the many good things, I had going for me was that I was retired. Not all Americans are. The unemployment rate under Trump reached 14.8% in 2020.

I’m a super voter and I didn’t trust the USPS under Louis DeJoy and Donald Trump. I requested a mail in ballot and hand delivered it to the Board of Elections’ Headquarters. I wasn’t going to risk in person early voting which is my preferred method of voting and I certainly wasn’t going to miss my chance to vote for Joe Biden.

I went months without seeing my barber, (another woman that has become a friend). I guess it didn’t much matter how long my hair got; I wasn’t leaving the house.

Store shelves were largely empty and toilet paper in particular was a concern. I remember being a little boy in school in the 1950s when teachers tried to convince us that America was so much better than Russia. Perhaps their most prominent illustration was the dearth toilet paper in Moscow’s stores.

Trump was very lucky in his term. The pandemic was really his only major challenge and he blew it! Bigly, as he would say! Of all the leaders of major industrialized democracies (our peer nations) Trump had by far the worst performance.

All politicians have missteps. If she doesn’t double down maybe we can excuse Elise this one time. The problem is that many echoed her. That is simply political malpractice, (and I’m being polite using that verbiage). I refuse to believe they are all that stupid. This is a case where liars are much more dangerous than fools.

I just juxtaposed two women in this article and hands down Cathy comes out the winner! (I hope her and/or her son is reading this!)
To all my readers in Ireland, any readers of Irish ethnicity or those pretending to be today, have a happy St. Patrick’s Day! Elise, the answer is an emphatic Yes!

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