There is a commonly held belief that once a person has a moment — where they hit bottom, where they come face to face with their own hubris — that the person in question, having learned their lesson, will suddenly change and become a moral, altruistic, wise being. That belief would be wrong.
The fact is many people facing this moment actually get worse. I call this moment the “Icarus moment.” The Icarus moment (not to be confused with the Icarus paradox) is the moment of reckoning, when the person in question, having flown way too close to the sun, experiences their own moral fall into oceans of hubris.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Icarus had somehow survived his own fall from the skies. Would he have emerged with more humility and grace? Would he have realized the error of his ways? The fact is that many pundits ask about the GOP’s “Icarus moment.”
Of course, they do not call it that. Those are my words. But the question always appears in one form or another. These pundits are in for a rude awakening. The fact is many on the red side have already had their Icarus moment — and it changed nothing.
An excellent example of that is Steve Scalise, Republican minority Whip of the House of Representatives. Scalise almost lost his life when members of Congress were shot at during a baseball game.
Scalise was seriously injured. So you might think that would make him more amenable to sensible gun reform. That would be wrong. Scalise has run away from even the merest hint of such talk. It’s not that he did not have his Icarus moment. It’s that the moment failed to produce change — or self-awareness.
Mike Pence is another excellent example. Now he undoubtedly recognized how close he was too mortal danger on January 6. But yet he still pretends. It is tempting for me to think Icarus had he lived, would have become a more humble and modest boy. But perhaps that’s wrong. Maybe he would have learned nothing.
And that is what these pundits don’t get. For some Republicans, their Icarus moment has long come and gone. But the hubris is so massive that they didn’t even see the moment coming.