Inauguration Day, 2017: I am in Washington, DC to cover coronation festivities for American Babylon along with my photographically gifted, blue-haired friend Jimi Giannatti. The day has been a constant stream of demonstration, protest, counterprotest, fights between little old ladies on both sides of the Trump Question, swarms of riot police (over)reacting to tiny bands of roving antifascists in their bandanas and black masks and black t-shirts and black jeans. There had been physical altercations and large displays of triumphant pro-Trump propaganda: one scene comes to mind, near the end of the day, in which a group of waspy white men drove a truck with a large trailer bed filled with speakers and a few adolescents and other waspy white men, all of them dancing awkwardly and waving pro-Trump signs and engaging anti-Trump protesters in loud, caustic, pointless debates as they drove the truck slowly through downtown, generally causing little but further traffic delay and annoyance on the part of those few neutrals who staggered through downtown Washington.
Hard to be a neutral at this hour. Surely the theme of Inauguration Day itself and the night that followed was: delay. Delayed subways in the morning (though not nearly as delayed or utterly jammed with hordes of people as the next day’s Women’s March on Washington). Delayed coffee and delayed Lyft rides from the subway to the heart of the inauguration protests, vaguely the area around Union Station. There were delays in parking and delays in driving, oh yes, there were severe delays inflicted upon all those who wished to drive. For where Donald Trump goes, nowadays, protesters follow. Inauguration day amplified this factor by a million, at least, and there were throngs of protesters everywhere you looked.
The day was hot and long and tense. Those who attended in support of Trump were herded into the various events scattered around downtown Washington (NE). This is K Street and incredibly priced oyster bars and deep scars of progress in the form of massive office buildings full of ambitious people. The people there to support Trump were outnumbered greatly by those who protested against him, or for or against whatever issue animates them. These pet issues span literally the entire available political idea space: the election of 2016 was 63 million people voting for Trump to declare that one can be for or against absolutely anything, be openly racist and shout nazi rhetoric, and there is not a requirement for coherence and violence is an acceptable tactic. Both sides of America have adopted this stance and both were on prominent display at the Inauguration.
Which brings us to the evening of Inauguration Day and the horrendous delays inflicted upon any poor saps, like Jimi & myself, who deigned to wish to leave downtown Washington DC whilst the President was whisked around to the many Inauguration Balls which festooned the city.
At these Inauguration Balls, presumably, there were throngs of expectant revelers waiting to fete and adore the President and his retinue. We shall never know the actuality of these Balls. We are not the types of people who are permitted access to those rooms. Which is just as it should be. What we do know is that we are certain that it was utterly impossible to exit Washington DC during the entirety of the time that Donald Trump attended Inauguration Balls on the night of his coronation. Impossible in the dictionary sense of: “not able to occur, exist, or be done.” and also impossible in the mathematical sense of: “The portion of ‘impossible’ out of the total possibility is 0.”
We watched helplessly as a Lyft driver circled the city on the I-95, trying futilely to find a way into the enclave through the roadblocks and shut downs and blockages and endless snarl of it all. In some strangely comforting alternate reality, that Lyft driver is still out there somewhere, searching for us hopefully, and we for her.
Which brings us to CNN contributor and Trump apologist sycophant extraordinaire Jeffrey Lord. After the rioting and generalized mayhem of Inauguration Day had died down, we made our way, Jimi & I, somehow or another and under great physical and emotional distress, to the last great non-corporate bar in downtown DC: Kelly’s Irish Times. I had been to Kelly’s many times when I lived in DC when I was 20 years old. Back then I was working for the (pre-Koch brothers Coup) Cato Institute and generally inflicting severe anarcho-capitalism on everyone I knew. I am only thankful in this regard that time heals most libertarians of most delusions.
Kelly’s Irish Times is a lovely little high-ceilinged pub just around the corner from Union Station which has been in continuous operation since just after Nixon left office. The well worn swivel top barstools have surely played host to more than their fair share of those rare, especially fragrant and carefully gilded assholes possessed by political elites. Tough to be neutral: even pubs naturally choose a side on a night like Inauguration night: Kelly’s had been invaded and taken over completely by 20-something acolytes of the new alt-right supremacist mania and all of the newfound enthusiasm for hatred and arrogance and myopia.
Jimi & I stood on the outdoor patio and drank whiskey and chain-smoked and commiserated in a sort of hushed, dumbstruck wide-eyed stupor. The bartender was gracious enough to allow me to charge my phone. The sight of people negotiating for electricity was a common one all day long during the Inauguration and Women’s March. Big on ideas, short on verve. Something like that. Kelly’s Irish was dutifully showing the Inauguration parade festivus on it’s plethora of screens and the horde of mostly young Trumplodytes would spontaneously erupt into chants as varied as: “Can’t stop Trump” and “Trump! Trump! Trump” and variants on these themes.
We are a simple people in America. Give us whiskey and a place to smoke and we can find a way to convince ourselves of soothing delusions such as: this too will pass. We do not dare ask the question: what will be left of us when this, too, passes? If we did, we might drink too much whiskey too often or begin fighting in the streets: done and done. Trump runs and wins and ascends and all of it is quickly quite normal.
Standing on the patio outside of Kelly’s, talking with Jimi, I was just starting to feel my soul say to my ego: this too will pass. I was beginning to believe it. That’s exactly the moment that Jeffrey Lord walked out of the bar.
Jimi pointed at him and whispered something like “There goes Jeffrey Lord.”
And sure enough, there was the man from CNN himself: full overcoat, big collar, strange white coiffe, beautiful woman on his arm, walking rather triumphantly off the patio of Kelly’s Irish.
This is one of those moments where mistakes are made and later regretted. I said many things to Lord and we bandied about for awhile, but I can’t transcribe the audio because I didn’t turn on the recorder. I should have, but I didn’t. As Jeffrey Lord went past I said to him something like, “Jeffrey - I’m a huge fan - can I get a few minutes with you on camera about all of this madness?”
Flattery usually wins out in this situation. I am not a fan, huge or otherwise, of Jeffrey Lord. For those who don’t wish to dig into his background, Lord is a former Reagan staffer who found himself in a perfect moment in time during the election runup of 2015. He was one of a very small coterie of former staffers and failed hacks who would publicly defend Donald Trump and attempt to advance his cause in the mainstream media. One thing led to another and Trump ran roughshod over the entire Republican Party, and the next thing anybody knew Jeffrey Lord was made a regular paid CNN contributor.
How all of this happened is presumably mysterious even to Jeffrey Lord. What is not mysterious at all is that Lord is a disgusting little sycophant who will say literally anything to confuse and distract and obfuscate: I told Lord that everything he says and does is a lie calculated to advance a fascist, and we both laughed, and he told me that he had once been an anti-war protester, and I asked him what the hell that had to do with anything, both of us smiling and laughing this entire time. I mentioned to Lord that his guy had incited violence against his political enemies, including me, and Lord asked me if I had been paid by George Soros, and we laughed and I told him no Jeffrey, I’m not nearly as lucky as you are.
Lord demurred about an on camera interview, saying something about an exclusive arrangement with CNN, and off he and his companion went into the night. All of this was brought rushing back when I saw the picture Jimi Giannatti took of myself and Lord, and the contortion of disgust on my face standing next to him.
This is exactly the look of disgust which must have been on the face of whatever CNN executive had to deal with the fallout from Lord’s infamous “Sig heil” tweet last week. And so the short, fascinating public life of Jeffrey Lord transitions from the bright triumphant lights of CNN to some new phase, the dimensions and compensation of which seem likely to contract significantly.
And so but the viewers of CNN must bid goodnight to Jeffrey Lord, who nobody would accuse of being overtly talented in any particular way; he is surely the most cheerful and pleasant apologist for the new fascist alt-right phenomenon that we have yet come across.