You would think that, having spent five decades on this planet, and all of that time as an American citizen, and most of my adult life as a Democrat, I would have, by now, purposely drowned in a bathtub any remaining vestiges of my political optimism and idealism, but here we are.
Photo by Gage Skidmore
In the wake of this week’s news that Senator Kamala Harris has restructured her campaign to go all-in on Iowa, I feel compelled to make a case for her candidacy … and even if you’re undecided, or you’ve already made up your mind to support someone else, there are good reasons for all of us to keep her in this race.
It seemed like it was going to be so good, didn’t it? That first “Stupid Watergate” movie? The stolen election, the illegitimate president committing obstruction of justice in public over and over, the Large Adult Son tweeting out evidence of collusion with Russia, the American hero poised to take them all down? Man, I really enjoyed those first two acts.
Hi! Remember me? Been a while. So, yeah, the first post I’ve published since January really is going to be about a comic-book movie that was released back in April — not only because I’m sick of writing solely about politics (as evidenced by the fact that I haven’t published anything new here in months), but also because it apparently is the only thing about which I’ve been motivated enough to actually, you know, write something … and if this is what it takes to prime the pump and restore me to being a guy who actually writes things instead of a guy who just claims he’s a writer, then this is what I’m gonna go with.
When I was much younger and didn’t follow politics closely enough to understand what really was going on, I believed that, regardless of who held the office, the president of the United States was mostly a figurehead — more of a symbol than an actual policymaker with the power to steer the country in one direction or another. Having lived through and followed rather closely the Clinton, Bush, Obama, and, unfortunately, Trump presidencies, and having compared the policy positions of those men with those of the opponents against whom they ran, I know now that I, of course, was wrong — mostly.
Time for a thought exercise. (Don’t worry; it’s an easy one.) Imagine, if you will, that there is a criminal in the White House. Investigators know it. Prosecutors know it. The people closest to him know it. And, of course, the criminal himself knows it.
It is human nature to try to make sense of the crazy thing happening before your very eyes by looking at it through the lens of the most similar thing to which it compares, so holding Trump’s aberrant presidency up against that of Richard Nixon is a natural response. The ways in which those two men, their presidencies, and their respective scandals differ, however, are at least as effective at predicting Trump’s fate as are the ways in which they are similar — the most notable difference, of course, being that Nixon was a smart and savvy politician who committed a crime, while Trump is an arrogant fool and dimwitted criminal who accidentally stumbled into the presidency while executing what he thought would be his greatest con.
Well, nice try everybody. I thought we had a pretty good night, but I guess that whole “Blue Wave” thing was just wishful thinking. Turns out there are fine voters on both sides, and the American electorate is evenly split. Half of us are angry, aggrieved, gullible lunatics who believe Hillary Clinton is using George Soros’ ATM card to fund an invading force of leprosy-ridden brown babies from South America, and the other half of us — you know, those who are capable of breathing with our mouths closed — apparently did little more than sort-of cancel out a potential Red Wave. At least, that’s what it seemed like based on much of the Election Night coverage I saw.
For a brief moment last Thursday, as Brett Kavanaugh began his opening remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I mistakenly thought he sounded contrite, and the sound that I mistook for contrition led me to believe for just a split second that he might actually take responsibility for his actions, apologize to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and withdraw his own nomination.
I think we can all agree it is truly adorable that, nearly two years into Donald Trump’s presidency and long after having had the concomitant realization that everyone with whom Trump surrounds himself is profoundly broken and unfailingly awful, I still somehow was capable of such unrealistic optimism.
I originally published this piece three years ago today. I am re-upping it now both because of that anniversary, and because my dear friend Sam was from, and loved, the area currently getting hammered by Hurricane Florence. He was an environmentalist and a self-appointed steward of Wrightsville Beach who, among other things, organized trash cleanups there, and who even launched a green apparel line (Organic Lifestyle Apparel) that, in part, benefits his local chapter of the Surfrider organization, which “is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.” If you are able and so inclined, please consider contributing to that non-profit, and/or to the Red Cross, which will be doing critical work to help people affected by the hurricane.
I called him “Shep,” like, at least two or three times before finally realizing that I’d misremembered (yes, that’s a word now) his last name; it was “Sam Shelby,” not “Sam Shepard.” It was our first day working together, and there I am, calling him “Shep” … repeatedly … because I’m a douche. Of course, when I finally realized (with no small amount of embarrassment) the mistake I’d been making, Sam merely laughed it off and took it upon himself to make the moment far less uncomfortable and awkward than I deserved for it to be … because that’s just who he was.