How to summarize what has been a year defined and dominated by the election of Donald Trump? In so many ways it’s been similar to driving slowly by a car accident, wishing not to look at the damage done but unable to turn away.
Of course, life continues away from politics and 2017 has been no different. Pop culture, events and celebrities have also captured our attention and fashioned the news.
But just a few comments about our political reality, such as it is.
Recall the record-setting women’s march that took place the day after Trump’s inauguration. It filled the streets in city after city and state after state, de rigueur headgear the pink crocheted hats. It was a protest, an astonishing statement and the beginning of quite a year.
Since then, Trump’s presidency has been a Six Flags roller coaster ride of alternative facts, Russia, alleged conspiracies, a special counsel investigation and a spider’s web of denials and accusations framed by the word “collusion.” And all the while the president is poking Kim Jong Un, aka “Rocket Man,” as if daring him to launch something, anything, while nuclear war (unthinkable) seems a viable option (your button or mine?).
The one autocrat Trump is not poking is Putin, despite the incontrovertible fact that Russia, using “troll farms” and hired hackers, influenced our presidential election in all ways possible. Is KGB-trained Putin someone you want to shake BFF hands with?
The above represent just the barest tip of the iceberg of political events taking place domestically and internationally in 2017, some breathtaking — “there were fine people on both sides” — others unintelligible, while policy is delivered by Twitter. But you get the idea. A lingering thought: Jan. 19 of that year was Barack Obama’s last day in office. Sigh.
There have been, of course, many other moments that have taken place that gave us respite from the reality show we call presidential politics.
Recall the statement by Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks: “If you do not condemn this divisive rhetoric, you are condoning it.” He was defending his and all the NFL players’ right to take a knee in silent protest to the treatment of black citizens in America.
How about the best accessory of 2018, the must wear solar-eclipse glasses to view an event that last happened in 1918.
Best romantic moment: Prince Harry’s engagement to television actress Meghan Markle. Nuptials are scheduled for May 19 in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Save the date. Invitation? Obama yes. Trump a maybe.
Unexpected change: Women are now allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. Put the pedal to the metal.
Really dumb move: Three basketball players in China for a tournament shoplifted sunglasses from a department store. Possible penalty: years in prison. Lucky they weren’t in North Korea. But then lucky Trump wasn’t either.
Twenty years ago, Viagra was approved by the FDA. That’s a weak segue to producer Harvey Weinstein’s hard fall from Hollywood grace, followed by countless other high-profile news anchors/personalities and congressmen. Courageous women stepped forward (“the silence breakers”). But what are the odds our culture will change? #MeToo will tell.
Okay, another segue, regarding our gun culture. It has been five years since 20 children and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, in Newtown, Connecticut, by a man with a weapon of war. Using that tragic, incomprehensible event as a red line, has anything changed? No. Try to comprehend Las Vegas and another crazy using converters to turn semi-automatic into automatic long guns.
On a much lighter note, best political satire: Start with Melissa McCarthy doing Sean Spicer. And not to forget Saturday Night Live or the late-night hosts, all giving thanks for the current president and his hair-hat blond 'do. Did Trump really say that if he lost the election he would release his hair into the wild?
When dealing with the aftermath of a devastating hurricane, such as the one that leveled Puerto Rico, bring paper towels.
I could go on. 2017 has been a year’s year. But I’ll stop just long enough to wish you and yours a Happy New Year.
— Chris Honoré of Ashland is a Daily Tidings columnist.