You may have thought 2016 was as horrific and just plain bizarre as years could get. You may have considered 2017 to be the Upside Down, or perhaps the ultimate proof of the increasingly credible scientific theory that we’re all living inside a holographic simulation instead of a real universe.
If so, 2018 has three words for you: Hold my beer.
Mere days into January, the news is providing a queasy sense of unreality like never before. If your head is hurting trying to process every baffling thing in a four-day year that appears to have lost the plot far faster than its predecessors, rest assured you’re not alone.
On Tuesday, the president of the United States made what appeared to be a penis measurement comparison wrapped up in what appeared to be a threat of nuclear attack directed at an unstable dictator with dozens of atomic warheads at his disposal and a variety of means to deliver them, ICBMs not required.
This statement, possibly the most reckless in the whole terrible history of nuclear weapons, was all about a button on the president’s desk that doesn’t actually exist, but he assured us it works.
2018 has three words for you: Hold my beer
A man who could rain radioactive death on the entire world a thousand times over literally just told us he has a loose relationship with the reality of nuclear war, seeing buttons that don’t exist.
And this whole thing turned out to be a response to something this 71-year-old saw on his favorite cable news channel.
This is the way the world ends: Not with a bang, with a Fox News segment.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey stayed quiet about this insane threat delivered on his platform. But with ridiculously perfect irony, he did start 2018 by telling us how great his silent meditation retreat was.
And what of the Fourth Estate? Did the sober and sensible media sound the alarm? Call for Mike Pence and the Cabinet to activate the 25th Amendment now and remove this clear and present danger from office, at least temporarily while his mental health is assessed by qualified professionals? Speak with one voice in a bid to prevent a supremely stupid apocalypse over a dick joke?
Nope. Over on journalism Twitter that evening, many folks were distracted by Trump’s next-most unhinged tweet of the night, announcing that he would present “THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR.”
It is of course the president himself, who is currently averaging between five and six verified lies every single day of his administration, who should sweep any such awards. But you’d be surprised how little that was raised: the president’s lies have become the new normal, no matter how much we tell ourselves not to normalize them.
More often, reporters — not just late-night comedians — would air a variation on a narcissistic sentiment worthy of Trump: I hope he picks me, that means I’m doing something right.
And thus did Trump control another news cycle without really trying, lobbing ever crazier crazy bombs left and right, infecting millions with his madness.
And yes, effectively distracting us — this time from a damning article in the New York Times which effectively accused the president of being a serial money launderer for Russian criminals.
The kind of article that, in times of old, would have created a three-week news cycle in itself.
“We told Congress: from Manhattan to Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., from Toronto to Panama, we found widespread evidence that Trump & his org worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering.”
This is the whole ballgame.
— Chris Taylor (@FutureBoy) January 3, 2018
What was weirder: the next morning, we’d almost entirely forgotten about the president’s insane nuke threat. Because a whole new soap opera quickly came along to take its place.
That would be Fire and Fury, the new tell-all book on Trump from New York media columnist Michael Wolff, who claimed to have spent months on a couch in the West Wing at Trump’s behest. It portrays a campaign that didn’t expect or even want to win, and an accidental administration coming apart at the seams from day one.
And apparently Steve Bannon — then Trump’s chief consigliere — had told him Donald Jr.’s infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russian officials was straight-up “treasonous.”
It was another twist that would get the whole story of 2018 nixed at a Hollywood pitch meeting: the prince of darkness suddenly sees the light and, out of nowhere, starts agreeing with the Resistance? Get outta here with that Disney Channel nonsense.
To enhance the unreality of the situation, this detail emerged not from a pre-planned (and hastily rescheduled) book extract. It came from a Guardian reporter walking into an unassuming bookstore somewhere in New England, one that happened to be carrying Fire and Fury early, just sitting there on a shelf like unexploded ordinance.
Instead of decrying the book as fake news (which he could easily have done, given the fact that it claimed he didn’t know who his golf buddy John Boehner was), Trump focused entirely on Bannon’s betrayal. His statement, like 2018 in general, sounded bizarrely fictional.
“When Steve Bannon was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind” reads, in all fairness, like a very solid opening sentence to a short story
— Mark O’Connell (@mrkocnnll) January 3, 2018
There followed a flurry of improbable legal papers. Trump, via his long-suffering lawyers, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bannon and to the publishers in a desperate, flailing attempt to gag them. It was like he’d never heard of the First Amendment. (To be fair, even Fire and Fury said he had: apparently the president’s remedial education on the Constitution had reached all the way to the Fourth Amendment before his eyes glazed over.)
Even that wasn’t the end of the story — because Trump’s underlings, past and present, were not to be outdone on the crazy catfight front.
First came Paul Manafort. Trump’s former campaign manager, currently under indictment from Robert Mueller’s investigation, responded to evidence that he’d broken terms of bail by filing a lawsuit denying the Justice Department’s ability to indict him in the first place.
Then Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose job is barely secure from his boss, decided to make it harder by pissing off all those pro-marijuana Republican libertarians — a substantial portion of Trump’s remaining base. Colorado’s GOP senator promised to grind DOJ business in the Senate to a halt in response.
Talk about unforced errors.
How insane is 2018’s Washington drama? So much so that news of a security problem affecting pretty much every computer in the world — requiring entirely new chips to fix — hardly registered.
Oh, and something called a bomb cyclone buried the entire East Coast, so there’s that.
A longer lasting bomb cyclone raged in the brains of anyone trying to comprehend or keep up with the new speed of news.
Buckle up, because 2018 is only just getting started.
Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/04/2018-recap/
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