When Nixon took the second oath as president, I attended his outdoor inauguration. We lived just a few blocks away from the Capitol. There were shiny new ‘No Parking Inaugural’ signs on our street and we took them as souvenirs. For some reason, we thought we could become rich on political memorabilia. We were young.
Walking home after Nixon’s ceremony, I tripped and fell. As blood spurted from my knee, I thought to myself, “This is an omen.”
Thirty-three years later, on Inauguration Day 2017, I backed my car out of the garage and hit my husband’s car, which is always parked in the driveway. As soon as we heard the metallic thump, I knew it was omen time.
(I’d like to say right up front that my mishaps MIGHT have something to do with impeachment, but these are different times, and we no longer call Washington home. I suspect the political climate where I live in Florida could still be pro-Nixon.)
Of course, Nixon’s lies did him in. Truth won. Those were exciting times to live in Washington. During Watergate, we got up at the crack of dawn to read The Washington Post. I repeat, we got up BEFORE DAWN to read a newspaper!
Make no mistake about it, other presidents have failed to tell the truth. Eisenhower about the U2s, Johnson, when it really made a difference in Vietnam. Clinton, about sex, George W about Iraq , and Obama about health care/keeping your own doctor. Reagan just seemed to be an actor reciting a script, waiting for applause. (At least he had a script, the present president seems lacking in either Reagan’s charm or scripting). Oh, and on Reagan’s watch, we sold weapons to Iran to fund the Nicaraguan Contras. To Iran.
Is it any wonder boomers like myself are cynical? I mean, Eisenhower lied? When I was little I thought the general himself sat on a flag pole and looked out over the country to see how things were going. My mom said I was convinced of this, although I wondered where god sat.
Now, many year later, I am depressed and fretting. Nobody’s on the flag pole and there is no waiting for the friendly ‘thunk’ of the morning newspaper. I can get all the news I want whenever I want it. I don’t even have to get up in the morning, I can get it while I am in bed. Perhaps that’s the problem. We have our choice — rumor, hearsay, solid reporting, so-so reporting, biased reporting, and even lousy reporting. And someone in the White House, once again, with no firm grasp of the truth. Long ago, I was a reporter too. I get it. But the First Amendment rocks, and now I read what I want, starting with The New York Times and The Post.
Some of the new lingo leaves me puzzled, however. New words like pivot, double down, surreal, equivalency, normalize and my favorite phrase, dog whistle, must be decoded.
Pivot, for instance, rhymes with divot. I bet when you pivot hard you could cause a divot. It makes a mess.
Double down has to do with Blackjack. Same thing as never apologize, just make a bigger bet and keep on talkin.
Surreal drives me crazy. If you fail to understand or are surprised by anything at all, it’s surreal. Salvador Dali is absolutely whirling in his grave, and probably loving it.
Normalize speaks for itself. Someone in the White House needs it, apparently.
Equivalency implies that all things can be equal.
And false equivalency means comparing things that are not alike. That came up in the campaign. As in, mention one’s sins, mention the other’s, and OMG they are both equal, and we are all doomed. Really?
Which brings us back to dog whistle. I looked this one up, and I still am not sure, other than dogs, who can hear one. Is it a secret threat, or a secret message?
Fake news seems to be whatever you don’t agree with. That’s a simple definition, but I’m not into it.
Alternative facts are the ones you agree with if you don’t agree with the true facts. And, as my journalism prof told us, there are no true facts. Just facts.
I tell you, it’s surreal. Really.