Amid hurricanes, a vanished journalist, the recent Supreme Court hearings, midterms and “mobs,” it is little wonder that Americans are drinking more than ever.
Factually, this is so. More than 70 percent of Americans imbibe each year, and about 40 percent drink excessively, according to two separate studies last year. A comparison to 2014 data showed a 10 percent increase in the number of heavy drinkers.
I mention these sotted stats for context. Lately, at least from my perch on the porch, the evening cocktail has become less an aperitif than a medicinal slug made necessary by the alternative of ripping off my face. To bear witness to These Times In Which We Live is to go insane, join a cult or pour your favorite poison.
Please, if you’re one of the roughly 30 percent who haven’t strayed from the wagon, do not feel compelled to share. We’ve had enough scolding from Democrats lately, which is another point of cognitive dissonance. In our topsy-turvy world, the Democratic Party, once a haven for working-class Americans, has become a green room of shaggy intellectuals who lecture the nation about the decline in morality and civility.
The Republican Party, the erstwhile home to the Moral Majority, is now wedded to a porn-star-linked president, who last week was made to look like a somber adult seated across from a stentorian Kanye West, who seemed to have (a) lost his mind or (b) emptied a bottle of Adderall into his coffee before arriving at the White House for lunch with the president.
Ostensibly, the purpose of his visit was to discuss prison reform and plead for clemency for Larry Hoover, a convicted murderer and gang kingpin. Instead, the rapper embarked on a wildly disjointed, stream-of-consciousness lecture with such rapid-fire madness that one half-expected he might suddenly start crawling up the wall and across the ceiling — or, forgetting that his “Make America Great Again” cap wasn’t really the Superman cape he thought it was, plunge through the window fully expecting to fly.
Here’s a taste of his soliloquy about Hoover: “So there’s theories that — there’s infinite amounts of universe and there’s alternate universe so it’s very important for me to get (Larry) Hoover out, because in an alternate universe, I am him. And I have to go and get him free.”
Among other topical points, West mentioned that Hillary Clinton and her “I’m With Her” slogan didn’t do it for him in 2016 because he was a child of separated parents and didn’t get enough father time. (This is perhaps the most interesting and true thing he said.) Thus, West went with Big Daddy Trump and is proud to be an African-American supporter of the president. He said he loves Trump and threw down some choice expletives for emphasis.
His performance was, shall we say, head-swiveling and definitely alternative universe-ish. This writer can do no better than the expression on ABC News’ Jonathan Karl’s face during the screed. It was the look of a man who has just realized that he’s the last rational being on the planet.
Throughout the 10-minute speech, Trump remained nearly mute and interchangeably bemused and, just possibly, terrified. Toward the end, his arms folded tightly across his chest, he nodded and said, “Really very interesting.” Meanwhile, serious news of enormous import loitered in the vestibule awaiting the president’s attention. Hurricane Michael had recently finished decimating the Florida panhandle and, on the very day of this epic confab, was drenching the Carolinas, which were still foundering from Hurricane Florence. Reports were also coming in that a Washington Post columnist who had disappeared into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul may have been tortured, murdered and dismembered on orders from Saudi Crown Prince and Jared Kushner buddy Mohammed bin Salman. Speaking of the incident Thursday evening, Trump said dismissively: “It’s in Turkey, and it’s not a citizen.”
When the world has gone barking mad, when high-school yearbook jottings can nearly take a good man down, when a hip-hop artist and the president convene a surreality show in the Oval Office, when millions are suffering the aftermath of a killer storm and Trump seems chillingly unmoved by a reporter’s alleged murder — well, you’d best make mine a triple.