Politically, 2018 should be just as interesting as last year

Wednesday , January 10, 2018 - 5:00 AM1 comment

DON PORTER, special to the Standard-Examiner

Good news sometimes comes in waves.

For example, Sen. Orrin Hatch delivered — if begrudgingly so — on his 2012 promise to not run for re-election in 2018.

This happy moment was followed by former White House counselor and True Enemy of the Republic Steve Bannon stepping on his tongue in “Fire & Fury,” the new insiders-tell-all book about our nation’s dysfunctional White House. He’s quoted as bad-mouthing the president’s children, not to mention the commander in chief, and Putin’s Pet has banished Bannon from the West Wing’s Circle of Love.

It’s important to take note: Bannon remained the president’s bro even as he pursued a white-nationalist agenda. He didn’t rate a friend-ectomy until he began using rude nouns to describe members of the First Family.

All this has combined to make me feel like Christmas came a couple of weeks later than usual.

Then the Braggart in Chief tweeted about being a “very stable genius,” and it all became a holiday mashup: Christmas and Halloween all rolled into one. Yes, Halloween: It is horrifying to contemplate the limitless capacity for self-aggrandizement exhibited by the leader of the free world.

And please remember, I’m just scratching the surface here. It amounts to an auspicious start to season No. 2 of The Most Ridiculous Show on Earth. Looking ahead to the rest of 2018, we’re bound to have fun.

Think about it: There’s a whole year remaining for Hatch to make even more fawning love gestures to our Very Stable Genius. It’ll be a bonus if Hatch reiterates his observation that we shouldn’t have judged Roy Moore so harshly, since the Alabaman is said to have molested all those teenage girls decades ago.

As Hatch sees it, why not let bygones be bygones?

Even closer to home will be the potential cage match for the soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat. Utah Republicans still have the caucus-and-convention system for selecting candidates, so it’s possible the radical-right tea party wing of the GOP may serve up one or two sacrificial lambs for Mitt Romney, who will surely announce his candidacy. Romney’s smart and he’s rich, so he’ll undoubtedly go the signature-gathering route to guarantee a spot on the primary ballot.

It’ll be fun to see Romney on the campaign trail again. He shape-shifts more shamelessly than any politician in memory. He was once a moderate Republican who saved Utah’s scandal-plagued Winter Olympic Games and followed that feat by serving as the pro-choice, government-subsidized health care-loving governor of Massachusetts. Then he renounced his bipartisanship in two failed quests for the U.S. presidency.

Now he lives full-time in Utah, having relocated here from the Land of Liberals. But it’s difficult to ascertain exactly why. Was it to be nearer his children and grandchildren? Or could it be he was anticipating another political opportunity following Hatch’s retirement?

If it was the latter, the irony would be piled deep: Hatch, a Pennsylvanian who relocated to Utah shortly before running for the U.S. Senate, was accused by some of being a “carpetbagger.” Romney, it could easily be argued, is actually a New Englander. That said, Utahns’ residual Olympic love remains potent and the Mittster should have little trouble being elected.

All of which must irritate actual Utahns with political ambition like Democrat Jenny Wilson and Republican Chris Stewart.

Like I said, this year has all the ingredients to be just as entertaining as the one most recently past.

You can email Don Porter at dportercolumn@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DonPondorter.

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