In many respects. it was a reprise of my newspaper/magazine years. The only difference, I suppose, is that I once got paid for what I now do for nothing. It's also been an educational experience that connected me daily to the absurdities of the political world , some of which I could not express in a family newspaper. Big-name infidelity and the domination of Rush Limbaugh, the Great White Whale, over the Republican Party always trumped all else in the national media.
My initiation into blogging occurred a few days before the Democratic Presidential convention and it immediately raised a few eyebrows that it was nothing more than an ad hoc deliverance of liberal propaganda to my conservative friends. The word propaganda morphed into socialism among right-wingers who often struggle with their command of the language. To that extent, I fooled them. Call it what you will - but it wasn't ad hoc. The year also further isolated me from all of the moderns who spoke mostly with tweets when they should have been reading a good book.
One year being a nice round measure of time, I went back over my dog-eared notebooks for a refresher course on what had NOT yet happened when the blog was born. Without trying to arrange history in chronological order - my notes are too scattered - here are some items that I think should make trivial history drawn from the past 12 months:
- The forever accommodating and clownish Rep. Michele Bachmann, the court-jester Republican from Minnesota, monumentally declared that she would vote against the stimulus bill because "we are running out of rich people in this country." At the time, I could only wonder what was the absolute minimum of rich people that the country needed to survive.
- There was John McCain struggling for safe passage to the presidency (a matter of natural selection?) as the GOP's temporary pater familias accusing Democrats of "generational theft," this from the nominee of a party that still claims Abraham Lincoln as its soul in a clear case of identity theft..
- If you really wanted to feel teensy weensy small, you had only to heed Dr. Alan Bess, of the Carnegie Institution of Science, who told us there could be 100 billion planets in our galaxy. And we have all we can do to manage just one!
- This quote from the late John Kenneth Galbraith was somehow revived and would not have pleased the Alan Greenspans of our land: "If all the economists were laid end to end - it would be a good thing."
- It was not until September that we learned that an obscure Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin, might be useful in launching McCain into the White House with a wink and a lack of brain gloss about world affairs. On election day, I heartily thanked Barack Obama for protecting us from the travesty of a hockey mom a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Why would a major - well sort of major - political party trade on such an unthinkable risk, stooping so low to conquer? And her sponsor, William Kristol, a wily front-and-back channel Neocon, took another hit when the New York Times dropped his column for erratic probity.
- The year also produced a galaxy of names with varying claims to a savaged honor system: Rod Blagojevich, Miss Tia, John Ensign, Bobby Jindal, Mark Sanford, Warner Mendenhall, John Edwards, Joe the Plumber and Wasilla. Jindal, by the way, came and went before I got a chance to really know him.
- George Bush remained the president until January, but by then, he had opted out of the photo-op. He was a reminder of Disraeli's complaint that the British Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, was "sauntering over the destinies of a nation and lounging away the glory of an empire."
- Gadgets called iPhones forced their way into my vocabulary, but I didn't write about them because I could never remember whether the "i" or the "P" was capitalized. Too often I confused the word with a Greek play by Euripides. On the other hand, the only communication that suffered still more the past year was the the slow death by strangulation of the nation's newspapers.
- Some things never changed the past year.Silvio Berlusconi still made light of his young girlfriends, a habit that cost him no more than 2 points in Italy's popularity polls, for which he declared proudly that Italians liked him "the way I am." Can you imagine how the same story would have played if it were an American president?
- One of the winners in the summer months of media attention to health care reform was Dick Cheney, who flew under he radar regarding his ghoulish performance on torture , leaving him apparently still at large.
- The final word on the year cames from George Bush, who boasted in the dismal end that he was happy with how it all turned out for him, explaining: "What matters to me is I didn't compromise my soul to be a popular guy." To which I would respond: "Sorry, George. It wouldn't have worked anyway."