Okay, maybe the R.E.M tune isn't called for yet, but we're getting there bit by bit. Sort like the story of the frog in the pot of water, that doesn't notice the temperature gradually rising until it's too late.
I watched the SOTU last night - AKA the State of the Union. It was a fantastic extravaganza, a reality TV show hosted by a master showman, a campaign rally targeting his base and anyone else with a preference for bumper sticker style politics. I was expecting at one point all the Republicans would be told to bend over and look under their seats for a prize. Unfortunately, they'd only see their own asses, which is where all too many of them have inserted their heads. I did appreciate that Nancy Pelosi followed up his theatrical bombast with a small gesture of her own - she tore up his speech.
Trump kicked off with a long list of facts and figures, touting his success as the anointed saviour that, over the past three years, has dragged the US back from the brink of disaster. And he promising more of the same largess in the future, an even better US, with a strong economy. As usual, most of what he said was 'alternate facts' (a Kelly-Anne Conway phrase). I prefer the term un-truths. Or lies. The fact-checkers had their usual easy time annotating his speech, as he often repeats the same whoppers, but his base won't care. Any contradictions of their Supreme Leader are from the failing #FakeNews organizations, the policy wonks, the elite - none of them to be trusted. Trump told them that himself, and he said he'd never lie.
He seemed confident as he displayed his power. A scholarship was given to a young black girl with a single parent mother (of course) so she wouldn't have to attend one of the 'failing government schools'. We call them public schools. A young photogenic military spouse, with her two little children, was a special guest. Her husband was overseas protecting US oil interests and was expected home soon. Or, right then, as Trump waved him down the balcony stairs for a tearful family reunion, in a Price is Right "Come On Down" moment. A 100-year-old veteran was repeatedly praised, but lost the toss for the night's Medal of Freedom. That went to Rush Limbaugh, in recognition of his years of misogynistic and racial rants on talk radio. He's said to have paved the way for Fox "News", and the White House release says he "has had an incalculable effect on American politics and government". They got that right.
So, I think the US, and by extension, its neighbours, are still sliding to the brink. Tonight Trump will be acquitted, of crimes that he admitted to. His defence claims what he did is not impeachable, and his Republican Senators, eager to hold onto their power, will agree. There might be a court challenge, but it's his Supreme Court. He will get a bounce from today's result, as well as from the SOTU, but will it hold until the November elections? Will the Democrats field a strong opponent? Will more evidence surface? Most certainly there are more witnesses, more allegations, but Trump himself bragged at a 2016 rally "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."
We laughed back then.