The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion This is not a crisis, Republicans say as a large spider slowly devours them

A new species of giant spider, Califorctenus cacachilensis, is photographed last month at the Center for Biological Research of the Northeast in La Paz, Mexico. (Ricardo Valenzuela/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)
Placeholder while article actions load

I would recognize a crisis if it were happening.

When the president seized me, stunned me with his venom and covered me with digestive fluid from his chelicerae, I was initially taken aback, but I reassured myself with this thought: President Richard Nixon never did that.

I know history.

This is clearly not the end of the world. That would be more clearly labeled and would be brought about by the other party. And the weather would be more ominous. Ravens would squawk, and the sky would turn red. It would not occur on a Tuesday when I had made other plans.

Okay, the firing of FBI Director James Comey looked bad. And when the president stunned him, pierced him with his fangs, wrapped him in a thick cocoon of impenetrable webbing and left him to hang there for days, that timing was also poor. It doesn’t seem as though it was what the FBI wanted or what the deputy attorney general wanted, either. But the American people voted for change! And the president is not Nixon. Nixon fired people on a Saturday, whereas this happened on a Tuesday.

He does not sweat and look pale on TV, which Nixon always did. Also, history plainly states that Nixon was born in 1913, one of several siblings, whereas the president was born in 1946, one of 3,000 eggs. Already we are seeing huge discrepancies! Nixon had only two legs.

Nixon was married to a woman named Pat who wore Republican cloth coats. I think we can agree that we are talking about someone different. Come back when he is threatening people with secret “tapes” of his conversations when our leader has adopted a small dog named Checkers, and then we will see where we stand.

This has none of the historical signs of a crisis. We still believe in small government, and that doesn’t have to change because the person or entity presiding over it happens to be a giant spider.

Follow Alexandra Petri's opinionsFollow

I think of the many norms that are still going strong as the digestive acid begins to eat its way through my flag pin.

We got an appointee for the Supreme Court! That, already, is a great accomplishment.

If this were a real crisis, there would be no other news. An alert would go over the TV. It would say, “Democracy Alert!” and make an unpleasant sound. In the meantime, I’m glad those Unicorn Frappuccinos are gone.

But the background music has not crescendoed. I look out the window, and the sun is shining. On the television the colorful heads are speaking as they have always spoken, and they are still not in agreement. I think. It is getting harder to see in here, and I feel a curious warmth spreading through all my appendages. I would not feel this way if something really serious were going on. The polls would reflect it, too.

I am still getting what I wanted. It is good to have someone in the Oval Office who shares my values: covering everything with giant webs, eating flies and restoring our relationship with Russia. I think I once had other values but, well, winning is winning.

Also, we have yet to see what this will become. We don’t know that a special prosecutor is called for.

It is quite possible that the thing spewing its webbing everywhere in the Oval Office is not in its final form. Perhaps it will ultimately look like Merrick Garland. We should wait. Really, everything depends on the next move. Which will, of course, set the terms for the move after that. All of which we must contemplate and look into.

It’s very dark.

If we are ever in a point of real crisis, I will be the hero the country requires. I know that about myself. But in the meantime, I stand behind the president, who I am positive is not literally Nixon.

Besides, if it were really bad, Paul Ryan would say something.

I want to sleep.

If this were a crisis, something would be done by someone. A hero would emerge. Not one of these people I am used to working with, with whose flaws and biases I am too well acquainted, but a real hero, unimpeachable. Me, perhaps.

If there were an occasion, I would be rising to it. But I am not rising.

How the White House communications team fumbled explanations of Comey's firing (Video: Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)