We are now totally into the holiday season. The whole world is talking about Melania Trump’s White House Christmas decorations, which feature a bunch of trees of a sort of terrifying crimson color. Do you think it’s some kind of metaphor for the Wall? Her mood?
Everybody is making travel plans. Donald Trump is going to Argentina for a big international confab. In an exciting preview earlier this week, Trump said that whenever he meets with foreign leaders, “they walk in and they say: ‘Mr. President, it’s incredible what’s happened with your country in such a short period of time. America is respected again.’”
Which countries’ foreign leaders do you think he was quoting? Saudi Arabia? Papua New Guinea? Or maybe he mistook the desk clerk at a European hotel for a prime minister?
The midterm elections are finally over. Cindy Hyde-Smith won that last Senate race, and she’s become the first woman ever elected to Congress from the state of Mississippi.
Hyde-Smith was certainly a memorable contender. She reluctantly agreed to a single debate, standing behind a pile of notes so formidable it looked as if she was defending a Ph.D. dissertation. She kept checking them rather desperately, but still managed to get a bunch of things wrong.
Everybody presumed that Hyde-Smith was going to beat the Democrat, African-American former Congressman Mike Espy. It’s usually a bad sign whenever the commentary on someone’s campaign begins with “Not since 1870 …” Hyde-Smith succeeds the ailing Thad Cochran, a veteran who was famous for his ability to Get Stuff for his state. As a result, Mississippi moved into the 21st century receiving $3 in federal aid for every dollar it sent to Washington, including funding for about a quarter of the public schools’ budgets.
This is all fine, given that Mississippi is a very needy state. However, it would be nice if its politicians refrained from saying thank-you by demanding that the federal government “stay out of Mississippi when it comes to policies.” As Hyde-Smith did during her one and only debate. Really, Mississippians. It can get kind of … annoying.
Now that the elections are over we’ll have time to talk about … the elections! Sure, it’s more than a year until the first presidential primaries, but don’t tell me you haven’t been thinking about them.
The Democratic hopefuls are popping up everywhere. Sen. Kamala Harris of California has a memoir coming out, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has a new children’s book on the history of suffrage. As candidate publications go, I can really recommend Gillibrand’s, which is only 18 pages, with very big pictures.
Just this week, Beto O’Rourke announced he was not ruling out running for president. This was big news because … Beto O’Rourke. But there are actually at least several thousand other politicians who have not ruled out running, either.
Actually, O’Rourke is a bit different in that he had publicly ruled out a presidential race, something I’ll bet your state representative never did. At the time, he was trying to get elected to the U.S. Senate and swearing that if he won, no siren call from the White House could lure him away from his job. Nobody really takes those promises seriously. During his re-election campaign, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’d stick around for his entire four-year term unless “God strikes me dead.”
Feel free to discuss whether Andrew Cuomo would be a better presidential nominee than Beto O’Rourke.
This can be an excellent mental exercise for the long winter months. When I have trouble falling asleep, I frequently try to see how many former vice presidents I can name.
But candidates are au courant. And I’ll bet you would nod off long before you made it to Elizabeth Warren.
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Writes for The New York Times.