Beyond the Beltway

By Susan Estrich

January 16, 2021 4 min read

I don't think there is anyone in America with a phone who hasn't seen the graphic pictures of the Capitol under siege, or hasn't read the harrowing accounts of those trapped inside barricaded rooms.

Whatever else they may have done wrong, the Capitol Police protected everyone who was legitimately in the Capitol.

Inside the Beltway, the lawmakers have turned into the crime victims, with all the anger victims of violent crime hold on to for years.

I will confess: I only watched because I am in awe of Rep. Jamie Raskin, who has been as energetic and committed since the siege as he was when I had the privilege of teaching him. What is heartbreaking is that this time, it comes in the wake of losing his beloved son, Tommy Raskin.

After that, I tuned out. So did a lot of people in Los Angeles County, and in counties across America where even those most at risk have yet to be vaccinated, not even told when and where they will have to make appointments.

Are we really going to ask 80-year-olds with underlying health conditions to wait in line at Disneyland or Dodger Stadium? That's the latest news about vaccination sites. Is that how you get the vaccine to the people who need it soonest? I can see the endless line of wheelchairs. If you don't get heatstroke, you might live.

Forty-five minutes to the south, in Orange County, or in the other direction, in Ventura County, people over 65 are getting vaccinated. In Florida, rich people were invited to be vaccinated based on their donations to a nursing home.

In LA County, 89- and 90-years-olds with underlying conditions have yet to qualify for a vaccine, while New York, which has more generous requirements, has hopelessly overloaded appointments.

It's quite comforting to know that you cannot survive COVID because of your conditions and cannot get a vaccine because you live in the wrong county or the wrong state.

Meanwhile, there are reports that some health care workers are refusing to be vaccinated, endangering their colleagues and their patients. If they were only risking their own lives, it would be a different story.

Can you force people to get vaccinated to keep their jobs?

I've been the victim of violent crime. I know how terrifying it is to believe there is no escape. I know how an ice pick feels on your throat. I was mad as hell.

So, it seems, is Congress.

From where we sat, the mob in the Capitol, the holy temple, was an assault on the Constitution. But as for being an assault on the people inside, we didn't see that; we didn't feel that; and, ultimately, it didn't happen.

Many of us look at TV or keep it on in the background because the infection is everywhere, not because of anything being said in Congress. The latest in LA: A Beverly Hills plastic surgeon gave a woman who turned out to be positive a lip injection. He died.

And, of course, the news that the virus is decimating the Hispanic community is there every day, but the pictures and stories of the hospitals in those neighborhoods change daily. And because Hispanics make up 49% of the people in the county, there are plenty of hospitals in dire straits to choose from.

If those were the matters being addressed in Washington, if there were joint congressional hearings about the vaccine rollout, complete with state-by-state updates, we would all be glued to the television. As it is, it is hard to imagine that anyone's views are actually being changed by the rhetoric on both sides, or that they will be by a Senate trial of Donald Trump, given what we saw with our own eyes. And it is hardly the first step in pulling this country forward. For that, we need vaccines.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: 12019 at Pixabay

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