Other than 2013, of course, and 2012, and…oh who am I kidding, the entire first part of the 21st century has been bizarre. But you have to admit-we are ending 2014 on a pretty weird note.
First, we have Steve Scalise, the third most important Republican in the country. Yes, I know, conservatives are desperately trying to convince anyone who will listen that what Scalise did isn’t nearly as awful as Barack Obama sitting in Bill Ayers’ living room. And they’re wrong. According to Kenny Knight, an aide for David Duke, Knight invited Scalise to speak at a convention for Duke’s white nationalist group, EURO (European-American Unity and Rights Organization), but Knight has told numerous media sources Scalise did not know what EURO actually was. Scalise doubled down on that, telling The New Orleans Picayune:
There is a lot more vetting that goes into setting my appointments. I have a scheduler. I didn’t have a scheduler back then. I was without the advantage of a tool like Google. It’s nice to have those. Those tools weren’t available back then.
What? Google was founded in 1998. Using math, that means in 2002, Google was four years old. A toddler, yes, but still effective for, oh I don’t know, looking up a group online. A group you’ve been invited to speak to by a guy you know is working for David Duke. Scalise didn’t do that. He “accidentally” accepted an invitation to speak to a bunch of white supremacists, he “accidentally” drove to the hotel, and he “accidentally” wound up chatting with people who think Jews are responsible for 9-11. Steve Scalise had no idea what EURO was, but a local New Orleans baseball team, who was arranging accommodations for a triple A team from Iowa, knew enough about EURO to move the Iowa team to another hotel. Score one for the great American pastime.
Next, we have Golfghazi. President Obama is spending Christmas in Hawaii. God I wish I was; it’s -2 here. Anyway, the president, who enjoys golf, wanted to play a few rounds while on vacation. Two Army captains, Natalie Heimel and Edward Mallue, Jr, were getting married at the same golf course President Obama usually plays. The couple was told that when the president visits, plans may have to change. Other venues were chosen, just in case, and when the wedding was asked to relocate, Heimel and Mallue found themselves saying “I do” on a lush lawn near the home of Colonel Eric Schaefer, the commander of their base. According to caterer Naile Brennan, the new location was “much prettier.” And after the ceremony, the new Mr. and Mrs. Mallue received a phone call from none other than President Obama, congratulating them on their nuptials, and apologizing for the inconvenience. Captain Mallue even got the president to admit his golf score, something President Obama never shares. Oh, and the end result? According to the newly married couple, this all was “a blessing in disguise.”
Our third End of the Year event comes to us thanks to soon-to-be former Rep. Michael Grimm. Grimm, a New York Republican, became a household name after threatening to kill a reporter. On camera. Grimm’s exact words to the NY1 reporter were:
Let me clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f***ing balcony.
The “that” to which Grimm was referring was the the reporter attempting to ask him about allegations of campaign finance wrongdoing. Oddly, Grimm recently pleaded guilty to tax evasion, but refused to resign until a little chat with Speaker John Boehner. Threatening to kill a journalist didn’t garner him a spanking from Boehner, but tax evasion did. Grimm must really be wishing he’d spoken at a Klan rally right about now, because John Boehner is supporting and defending Steve Scalise with great fervor. It’s not too late, Mike-you have about 16 hours before the end of 2014!
There’s so much more that went wonky in 2014. We experienced heartbreak and sorrow, watched too many mothers bury their children, watched as gun violence took more and more lives. We listened to pundits and politicians spin round, round, baby, right round, as we do every year. Lists abound right now: lists of the worst of cable news, the best of cable news, the worst music, the best music, the most influential people, the least influential people, best and worst movies, heck, I’m sure somewhere, you can find a list for the best and worst shoes for 2014.
Next year, let’s try something different. Let’s work together to fix what’s wrong here in the U.S. Instead of bitching about golf, how about working to make it easier for our veterans to receive the services they need? Instead of letting racism hide in the shadows, can we drag it out into the light, and try to eradicate it? And instead of threatening to kill people with whom we don’t agree, why not admit that while we won’t always agree, we all want the same thing: a better country for our kids, your kids, everyone’s kids? And yes, for ourselves.
Once upon a time, the GOP was the party of Lincoln, and the fringe was still the fringe. Now it seems the fringe is running the party, and anyone who longs for a more moderate vision is labeled a “RINO.” We need moderate Republicans, who will work with Democrats, back in power. Put the fringe on a lampshade, wear it on your head this evening at a New Year’s Eve party. That’s where fringe belongs-on a lampshade, not in politics, not on either side.
Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, and don’t drink and drive. Ever. Call a cab, have a designated driver, stay home. Call AAA. Be smart, be safe, and enjoy the end of 2014.