For one who labored decades in the land of ink stains and deadlines, the dying days of December are a good time not to be there.
Not because of the industry’s struggles or the issues of the day.
It’s because of the annual waste of space on the “Top Stories of (insert year).”
Yes, let’s identify the most overplayed stories of the past year and overplay them further.
Let’s identify the personalities who got too much attention (“Person of the Year”) and give them more.
That’s not to say that the rest of a year’s news cycle is driven by pithy, impactful pertinence.
No. a lot of it is putrid pablum.
If anything deserves a magazine cover for 2023, it is the “Stupidest Question of the Year.”
That stupid question, asked over and over and over, was, “How will the latest legal perils affect Donald Trump politically?”
Insert: “latest revelation about fake electors,” “latest evidence of bullying election officials,” “latest state to toss Trump from the ballot,” “latest defamation judgment,” “latest civil fraud determination,” “latest Hitler appropriation.”
We know the answer to each. Stop asking it.
Trump’s base is as thick and impenetrable as toenail fungus. Sadly, it also is part of the body politic.
Every time one sees a too-early presidential poll, think of toenail gunk and cast your sights north of the ankles.
Fortunately, most voters don’t have calcified minds.
That’s why polls a year away from an election are way beyond dubious. So much can happen. For the Republican front-runner, that can include conviction on any one of 91 felony charges.
That’s why only one poll mattered in 2023, and it was the one that found the majority of Americans, including a whole bunch of Republicans, think Donald Trump is in a heap of trouble.
They don’t believe Trump’s legal problems are the result of a partisan “witch hunt.”
They don’t believe this is all because the “deep state” has it out for him.
They believe Trump has put his political career and his freedom in jeopardy.
They believe him to be unfit for any political office, just like the 14th Amendment commands.
An October New York Times-Siena College poll finds that a Trump felony would trigger a 14-point shift to Biden in swing states in an otherwise tight race.
A December Time-Siena poll found a comparable effect including the fact that nearly a third of Republicans would reject him if convicted.
So much for the robot wannabes on the GOP primary stage who said they’d support Trump even if the hammer of justice came down.
But there’s more: As former prosecutor Joyce Vance observes, these polls point to a “more compelling conclusion,” that felony trials alone — conviction or no — are going to be poison for Trump, even among a number of Republicans.
“A jury’s verdict isn’t the only kind of proof that can convince people to reject Trump’s candidacy,” she writes.
Fully digesting the indictments and evidence presented, she writes, will persuade decisive numbers of voters that they are dealing with a highly suspect man and a highly suspect tan.
Of course, “the base” will hear nothing of this, relying as it does on the Fox Propaganda Channel and other right-wing media.
The base will just get harder and crustier.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden will remind voters that it is he who cares about heath care, about student debt, about drug prices, about climate change, about women’s reproductive freedom.
Biden will remind voters that he got a bipartisan coalition to authorize a massive infrastructure package in contrast to the “Infrastructure Week” running gag of the Trump presidency.
Biden will remind voters that the U.S. unemployment rate is at a 54-year low, and that inflation – 9.1 percent two years ago – is 3.14 percent as an election year commences.
These are things to report, along with the fact that Donald Trump is doing his damnedest to forestall his Judgment Day.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.