Trump’s final days are even weirder, though we might be grateful that he hasn’t found solace in whisky. Angry, depressed, and fascinatingly ambivalent about a loss that has vandalised his ego (yet relieved him of a duty that overwhelms him), Trump has golfed excessively and found counsel in mad sycophants happy to uphold his dangerous and unfounded vision of a stolen election. And all this during a historic pandemic that has ravaged no country as badly as his.
Then, on Christmas morning, a suicide bomber parked his RV outside a telco’s headquarters in downtown Nashville, blared an evacuation alert and a ’60s pop song, then blew up a city block.
Trump still hasn’t acknowledged it. Not personally. He’s since tweeted prolifically about the “fraudulent” election result, retweeted bizarre praise of himself, and complained about fashion magazines overlooking his wife. But nothing about the bombing. Perhaps you can forgive this as trivial or benign eccentricity, but I think it’s superfluous evidence of a disturbed man and we should all be thankful that Trump resisted the urge to appoint Kid Rock to his cabinet.
As recently as July last year, John Howard was still equivocating about his endorsement of this same man. “I’m very ambivalent,” he told Sky News about who to back in the Presidential election.
In Howard’s defence, Joe Biden is roughly the same age as stringed instruments and resembles the ghost of a large stag beetle, but I’m genuinely confused about Howard’s conservatism if, compared with Sleepy Joe, he prefers an incipient fascist, protectionist, draft-dodging critic of the Iraq War who has extravagantly pursued deficit spending, adored Putin, encouraged skinheads and whom 26 women have accused of sexual misconduct. Now — and I’m just spitballing here, folks — but perhaps Howard’s retirement shtick of sage detachment is a fig-leaf for a partisanship so irrationally passionate that it can be sustained even when the American avatar of “his side” is deranged and anarchic.
Back home, we congratulated Western Australia, which, through the aggressive management of its border, finally achieved its dream of secession. If you have never seen a quokka in the flesh, I regret to inform you that your ship has now sailed.
Elsewhere, our Prime Minister was unusually acquiescent in the culture wars, conceding that our national anthem’s “young and free” lyric painfully ignored the tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history. Well, okay. But there’s replacing one word of the anthem, and there’s, say, adopting the Uluru Statement.
Speaking of lyrics, indie-rock star and amateur virologist Ziggy Alberts released some curious disquisitions on Bill Gates and vaccinations, while professional conspiracy theorist and meat enthusiast Pete Evans finally cancelled himself after indulging in some neo-Nazi symbolism. More broadly, one of the year’s great themes was how swiftly the University of Facebook could graduate one’s formless bigotries into elaborate, anti-Semitic theories that Democrats are addicted to children’s blood.
It wasn’t a great year for federal Labor or its leader, and in this newspaper, Eddie McGuire was suggested as a creative solution to the party’s funk of identity and confidence. Personally, I don’t think this is sufficiently ambitious. Ossie Ostrich might be flightless, but is unquestionably a bird of the people, good with a quip, if of uncertain constitutional eligibility. Alternatively, a lump of coal would badly wedge the government.
Yes, it was quite the year. But rest easy. If I’m understanding the myriad commentators who celebrated the back of 2020, then the most effective treatment of this virus is not vaccines, but simply a new calendar year, so it should be only a few days now before the virus hastily retreats and we can all enjoy the re-flowering of normality.
Similarly, in this Good Year of our Lord 2021, the planet will soon reverse its warming, China will relax its authoritarianism and creepy dominion, and we can be certain that Trump’s influence will perfectly cease upon Biden’s inauguration.
Thank God 2020’s over.
US power and politics
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Martin McKenzie-Murray is a regular contributor and a former Labor political speechwriter.
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