Everyone agrees — it’s the only thing the fractured nation can agree on — that the year 2017 was a pretty weird year. It all began in January, when the inauguration of Donald Trump drove Democrats sullen, morose, gloomy, and supernaturally strange. The spectral symptoms became identified by medical science as Trump Derangement Syndrome, or TDS.
“Were there really thousands of people marching around Washington wearing vagina hats?” asks the distinguished pundit Dave Barry. “And did the secretary of State really call the president of the United States a ‘moron?’ And did the president (of the United States!) respond by challenging the secretary of State to compare IQ tests? We want to believe that we imagined these things. But we fear we did not.”
After that, things got seriously weird. The Civil War resumed after it was thought put to rest at Appomattox, with several offensives against Robert E. Lee. With the Confederate commander toppled, the leaders of the anti-fa mob, barely literate and ignorant of history and many other things, seemed stunned to learn that the Lee they pulled down was made of marble and bronze, and was not actually the general himself.
Executives at ESPN, the sports network, were similarly astonished to learn that Robert Lee (without the E.), whom they had sacked as the play-by-play announcer for their telecast of a University of Virginia football game to pacify the anti-fa legion, was neither a Confederate nor a general.
The brownshirts then moved their struggle against violent fascism on to Berkeley and the campus of the University of California where there were actually few statues of Confederate generals, looking for stragglers to beat up in the name of peace, tolerance and understanding.
It was that kind of year. The bad news is that 2018 is likely to be weird, or weirder. Politics in the new year will be all about the midterm congressional elections. There may be competing landslides.
The party chiefs, pollsters, pundits and other grandees are sure they know exactly what will happen in November, citing lots of numbers, statistics and other data, much of it cooked to partisan convenience. But on the first day of the new year it all boils down to that most-oft cited cliche, “time will tell.” Some Democrats (and a few Republicans) think they see an enormous wave building on the horizon that will install a new Democratic Congress that can get on with impeaching Donald Trump.
Or maybe not. Newt Gingrich says “the great political surprise of 2018 will be the size of a Republican victory.” This prediction is based on the assumption that the economy, liberated by the Republican tax cut — every Democrat voted against it — will soar through the new year and prove once more that “it’s the economy, stupid.” Taking back Congress, the Democrats are telling themselves, is not only possible but probable. They must pick up 24 seats in the House and defeat a lot of incumbent Republican senators in red states. Possible, but unlikely.
Time will tell. (Cliche alert!) Until then, while waiting for the competing waves scheduled to lash these shores in November, we can enjoy the strange, the improbable and the weird. There will be plenty of it. There always is.
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