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Please Advise! Aren’t We Glad that 2020 Is Finally Running Out?

Not so fast, warns Dr. Steve. This annus horribilis isn’t likely to end Dec. 31.

Steve Burgess 2 Dec 2020 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Are you glad 2020 is almost over?

Signed,

Reflective

Dear Reflective,

Over? Let’s not get cocky here — it may be December, but that doesn’t mean 2020 is a few weeks away from its conclusion. It will go on for a while yet. There is a school of thought that sometimes sees decades as blocs of identifiable sociological trends and behaviours. The “Sixties,” for example, are sometimes said to have begun around late 1963 and continued until about 1974. In the same way 2020 might extend well into 2021. Will it end Jan. 20 with the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris? Will it peter out with the widespread uptake of COVID-19 vaccines? Or will 2020 truly conclude only when hockey has been restored to its rightful section of the calendar? To everything there is a season, the Bible instructs, and surely Jehovah was not referring to NHL playoffs in August.

Anyway, the 2020 bummer will not end on Dec. 31 when the giant coronavirus descends in Times Square, nor with the desultory New Year’s Eve celebrations featuring people wearing virtual Zoom lampshades. This hellish year will linger like a federal budget deficit.

Still, December is a time to look back. Mistakes were made; in fact, mistakes were President. Sticking with the Old Testament theme, turning to look back at 2020 might turn you into a pillar of stupid. But all of us can reflect on what we might have done differently — even Dr. Steve.

Firstly, he’d have had a little more faith in himself. The year began with your favourite spin doctor feeling foolish because he had predicted Kamala Harris to win the Democratic presidential nomination. In hindsight Doc Steve realizes his only mistake was betting on her to win instead of place. If Doc Steve had only put money on a runner-up finish, he’d be quarantining on a private island right now.

Dr. Steve has bigger regrets of course. There was, for example, this February column in which he, a doctor no less, mocked the idea of wearing masks. Ah, we were all young and foolish then. Unfortunately, some of us stayed that way. The consensus on masks changed and so did the recommendations of our top health advisors. But this change was seized upon by COVID-19 deniers as evidence of, well, something or other, probably involving Bill Gates and George Soros. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. And, Ralph Waldo might have added, nutjobs.

Dr. Steve made another prediction this year that now looks like wishful thinking: that if Trump lost, he would sulk off into the sunset, perhaps selling the Lincoln Bedroom furniture on Kijiji on his way to spending the rest of his pathetic existence golfing, lying and dodging the FBI. Alas, it now appears that a shameful and pathetic slither out of the White House was too optimistic.

The entire Trump campaign was a grift accidentally interrupted by a presidency. Now that the annoying distraction of pretending to govern is ending, the grift can continue full time. Estimates from the New York Times and Washington Post suggest the Trump operation has sucked up $150 to $170 million from the rubes since election day.

This underlines another reason why 2020 is not simply going to vanish over the horizon like a passing tornado. The power of Trump is the power of over 74 million Americans, a force that strikes fear into Republican hearts. As long as there is a mass of voters who can vote for Trump after four years in which he treated the U.S. Constitution and American democracy itself with the same respect he has shown for the bodily autonomy of any unfortunate female he felt the urge to grab, Trump will continue to control the political right in the United States.

You may argue that once stripped of presidential immunity Trump will have big legal trouble, and that may be so. But remember, there is no crime he could be convicted of that will cost him the support of his base. Unless he gets 99 years in Folsom like Johnny Cash’s pal, but that just means we could get President Don Jr. Instead of golfing, the 47th president would spend every weekend shooting elephants.

No, 2020 and its defining horrors are not going to depart without a fight. Besides, the calendar may change, but we’ll always have Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, won’t we?  [Tyee]

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