Ahead of the publication of Wolff’s Fire and Fury, many pieces were published on the black despair that was 2017 (and you won’t find a funnier one than Dave Barry’s roundup in the December 31st Boston Globe). I am considering 2017 an annus horribilis, as Queen Elizabeth considered 1992. The reasons were clear and public for the Queen: her son and heir Charles and his Lady Diana split; her daughter-in-law Fergie splashed the front pages of the British tabloids, bare-bosomed and having her toes sucked.
The reasons for my 2017 despair are not clear to me. It can’t be the daily barrage of stupidity, insanity and destruction by Donald Trump and his so-called government, can it? OK, OK, the threat of nuclear war, the drilling and fracking in sacred lands and the oceans. Deportations, sexual harassment and suspension of decent services for our citizens, especially in Puerto Rico, climate change denying—I’ll stop, but there’s much more.
Personally, the year wasn’t too bad. We lost nobody close to us and suffered no serious setbacks of any sort. Years have been worse. Years will be worse. The countryside is still beautiful. Why the despair then? Why do people slow to stare at a car crash?
The car is still crashing in the new year. We’d barely put away the party hats when Kim Jung Un and Donald Trump aired their opinions on the size of their “buttons.” Fellas, if you’re going to compare size, “button” doesn’t seem the way to go. Woven into this puerile imbecility was the word “nuclear,” however. Bingo. 2018 despair, already.
An excerpt of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury was available yesterday (New York Magazine online). The book will fly off of the shelves today. A real page-turner, it contained (unverified so far) unsurprising yet horrifying details about life in the White House. Is it all worse than I thought? Not at all. I was not surprised by anything I’ve read in the book, except for scalp reduction surgery, about which I’d been happily innocent. It’s a fun read, but despair is lurking for the reader. And aside from the entertainment, will Michael Wolff’s whistle-blowing do anything? Will somebody make this stop? Stop Trump? Please?
Yes, I could turn off the internet, stop reading newspapers, stop watching and listening to news programs and discussions. There was a time when our house had no TV and no Internet service (and radio signals still fail to reach us with any clarity). We didn’t live here full-time as we do now. We didn’t have such a threat to our democracy, to our lives, just about one year ago, either. It doesn’t seem wise to stick our heads in the sand, although it isn’t sensible to merely endure the torture.
We live in a state with politicians who agree with our views and serve the integrity of their offices. We have zero clout with Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell, but the regular citizens of Wisconsin and Kentucky probably don’t either. Doing what we can, we support candidates, non-profits, and sign petitions for sanity, decency. We hope that there will be a groundswell around the country, just as there was in the recent elections in Virginia and Alabama.
The nature of our winter after the nice December 25th snowfall has added to the feeling of despair. The violence of the winter storms—the seawater in downtown Boston yesterday and many other places on the east coast—adds to the toll of the incredible violence of the summer and fall storms around the country. The level of destruction of the hurricanes and wild fires seems of a piece with the frigid temperatures and high winds we have now. That one piece is climate change, but with the coal and oil industries leading the charge in our government, the baby steps taken to reducing and preparing for climate change are being undone. Not to mention support for green energy sources—barely underway and now gone.
Dinosaurs are in power, but we can’t let them push the meteor button. Throw the bums out.