There is nothing worse than waking up with a blistering hangover and no meaningful recollection of the past 18 hours. Or, so I’ve heard. Over the course of the next couple of days you begin piecing together assorted details of the Dead Zone and try to formulate a reasonable hypothesis as to the series of events…and their consequences. That is what it’s like trying to encapsulate the year that was.
There will be an untold number of articles, op-eds and other narratives in the coming days trying in vain to wrap up one of the wackiest years in recent memory. I see no way something less than a novel would suffice. For God’s sake, the Cubs…the Chicago Cubs won the World Series! That alone would set the year apart from any other experienced over the past century!
In 2016 we saw the collision of a Presidential Election buttressed with the full force of Social Media Mania. The numbers tells us more people are using these outlets than was the case during the 2012 election, and they are using them FAR more often. That created a combustible witches brew which blew the cauldron all to hell when it finally ignited.
It is entirely fitting and proper that the most noteworthy figure from 2016 was a Media Celebrity with a gift for self-promotion not seen since P.T. Barnum. When Donald Trump launched his brand into the Presidential race most pundits saw it as an extended marketing campaign to boost the value of his contract for the next installment of “The Apprentice.” Perhaps that was true…at first. But then something happened. In a year in which anything seemed possible, Trump’s braggadocio tapped into a vein of resentment against all-things-normal in Washington. We know how the story ended. But now, like the massive hangover victim we talked into in the first paragraph, we’re trying to figure out exactly how it got to this.
Democrats, who suffered one of the most humiliating and unexpected political repudiations in recent memory, are also trying to piece together the events. But they are acting as if they are still drunk and not merely hungover. In their perpetual stupor they are drawing false conclusions based on a stubborn refusal to accept the events that happened. Eventually they will sober up and realize that “I refuse to believe that” is a poor means to conduct an effective post-mortem. It was not racism, Fake News, the Electoral College, the Russians nor any of your other manufactured boogeymen. It was unsurpassed hubris, coupled with the nomination of one of the most loathsome Presidential candidates of all time.
Before we started drinking heavily, Hillary Clinton seemed like a safe bet to win the election handily. Perhaps that’s what prompted the bender for many. When we woke up with a pounding head, she was gone. Poof! Unlike the feeling when we lose our wallet, car keys or our dignity; losing Hillary is NOT something many will regret.
If the Presidential Election was the only wacky thing that happened in 2016, that would be plenty. But no. This year strained the definition of incredulity like none other than I can recall.
In January, a “devout Muslim” shot and wounded a Philadelphia Police Officer. In his confession, Edward Archer said he shot the Officer because “police bend laws that are contrary to the teachings of the Quran.” But Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney replied the shooting had “nothing to do with being a Muslim or following the Islamic faith.” The bizarre video of this police press conference I have attached shows the Police Chief clearly stating the shooter’s intent, followed by the Mayor’s pathetic defense, followed AGAIN by the Police Chief re-iterating the shooter’s Islamic motivations. It flowed like an SNL skit. Perhaps a better analogy is the Black Knight scene from “The Holy Grail.” (Holy spit, how much DID I drink?)
That same Orwellian word-parsing regarding Muslims was on display in the summer, after the tragic mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Apparently Omar Mateen making a call to 911 during the massacre to swear allegiance to ISIS wasn’t QUITE enough for investigators to pin down the motive. Neither was the fact that ISIS claimed responsibility for the massacre. Nope. According to the President and his investigative crew the motive remained elusive. Thanks, bartender. I’ll have another!
Perhaps the most quintessentially-2016 story was the saga surrounding House Bill Two in North Carolina. Hoo-boy…how do I summarize this madness? Ever-ready to fix a problem that did not exist, enter Charlotte City Council. Their measure last year would have codified a right that was already being exercised largely without issues. The bill would have also had the unintended effect of allowing actual miscreants a valid legal defense should they be caught where they did not belong. In a classic example of government overreaction, the North Carolina General Assembly responded with the hastily-written, overly-broad and poorly-thought-out House Bill Two. Instead of addressing simply the bathroom issue, it also prevented localities from affording other more common-sense protections for the gay community in areas like housing and employment. So what we were left with was an unnecessary effort by a local government birthing a piss-poor counter-effort by a state government. Overriding all this, the *Federal* Government, with their faulty interpretation of Title IX to include protections for every group under the sun—regardless of whether they are written into Title IX. Go home, 2016…you’re drunk!
And of course 2016 included the macabre theater surrounding the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. My hangover headache pounds unmercifully when I think about revisiting this. After spending 15 minutes during a July Press Conference laying the groundwork detailing a cavalier disregard for security, forthrightness, and following the law; James Comey then told us none of that mattered. Because there was no evidence of “intent.” Seriously. He said that. I went back and checked just in case that was my hangover talking.
If 2016 were a movie it would be a John Waters flick; complete with 300-pound drag queens eating feces.
Great visual Chuck. Now I need another beer.