Out with the old, in with the new
It’s probably premature to make projections for the new year when the old one has a week or so left, so apologies for getting ahead of the calendar. Still, here goes:
• Taps for Trump.
It won’t be the loyal opposition that removes our president in 2019. Yes, House Democrats will certify impeachment, but Senate Republicans will deem him worthy of removal, lest he take what remains of party principles with him.
• Angst in the army.
Few presidents have had as many “all-in” supporters, explainers, defenders. Their thinking is not hard to summarize. 1. He was better than the other choice. 2. The capital desperately needs a purge and a double-dose of common sense. 3. Plenty of others do the same bad acts and either no one cares or we bleeding hearts of the media provide cover. 4. RINOS are all talk.
Their thinking is also not completely without merit. It’s just that Trump’s not the one capable of introducing integrity, clarity or consistency to D.C. — being so bereft of these traits himself.
Some in the Trump army will never accept removal of him is best for the nation. They were so lured by ideals of making America great again — wanting peace, prosperity, respect for the working class, balanced trade — they refuse to see his lack of fitness or ability to do the job.
• Texas and South Carolina.
Many in Mississippi don’t know the name of Beto O’Rourke. They will.
He’s the Texas Democrat who came within 2.6 percentage points of defeating Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz last month. Young with Kennedy-like charm, he will emerge as his party’s frontrunner.
Most have heard of Nikki Haley. Also young and attractive, she became the first female governor of South Carolina in 2011 and accepted Trump’s appointment as the nation’s U.N. ambassador two years ago. She has resigned that job effective Jan. 1, and, like O’Rourke, she seems destined for her party’s nomination.
• Vice President Bryant?
It could happen.
If Trump is removed, the new president, Mike Pence, will need a VP. Mississippi’s lame duck governor has developed and maintained strong ties to the White House. He’s a willing worker and could get the job.
If that doesn’t happen, some suggest that U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is a placeholder for Phil Bryant. At some point in her 24-month term, she could accept a U.S. Department of Agriculture or private cattle industry position, leaving Bryant to step into the Senate seat after leaving the Governor’s Mansion.
Once more to the polls.
The new year will be a state election year in Mississippi. Qualifying for just about every county and state public office starts Jan. 2 and, though there’s no voting until June primaries, qualifying closes March 1. Why so soon? Incumbency protection. If a newcomer decides to run for judge, supervisor, sheriff or the Legislature a full six months before the general election — oops, too late.
That said, the Legislature will be in session during the qualifying period so the peace on Earth everybody talks about before Christmas will extend into the new year. No initiatives. No fresh ideas. No use upsetting folks, you know. Money will be found for raises for state employees, including teachers. Small raises, but enough to earn votes.
Off into the sunset.
Enough with the guesswork. Here’s something definite.
The first weekly opinion column I wrote was on Labor Day 1986. In the 32 years since, much has changed in journalism and in readers’ habits. Routine was prime back in the day. If it was Sunday, the crossword puzzle was bigger. Saturday was for the religion writer.
Routine is rare now, so after years of adhering to a fixed schedule my plan is aggravate fish more often than people, and to submit columns now and then. If editors want to use them, they may. If not, that’s OK, too. In more than three decades, I’ve given them about 3 million words to pore over and, well, there are younger, brighter minds out there.
The business of opinionizing is a privilege. I’ve never considered myself smarter than readers, and when I write about public officials I’ve tried to remember that at least they submitted themselves to a public vote — something I never did.
Readers have tried to figure me out as much as I have tried to figure them out. One thing I learned is that only a few readers make it to the last paragraph.
To those who did this week, thank you. It has been a joy.
Charlie Mitchell is a Mississippi journalist. Write to him at email@example.com.