The words in my reporter’s notebook from the day before my daughter was born say “neo-Nazis,” “many sides” and “repugnant.”
That’s where the political world froze for me on August 14th at around 1 p.m., when I went into what would be 21 hours of labor, followed by three month and a half months of maternal bliss.
In those 90 or so days, I missed approximately 55,541 news cycles—and that’s just inside the White House.
While I was trying to master baby origami (a.k.a. swaddling an infant in the dark on 30 minutes of sleep) and Googling things like “neck cheese,” Steve Bannon left the West Wing, Seb Gorka soon followed, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned. (Note to self: don’t let the government pay for those private jet trips again.)
President Trump appeared to defend a group of neo-Nazis and white supremacists protesting in Charlottesville, Virginia, as “very fine people” and then disavowed them and then didn’t again; got in Twitter spats with a congresswoman over a conversation with a gold star widow; threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea (I have to say, there’s something uniquely disturbing watching the president bait nuclear war whilst feeding a newborn); and ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, struck a deal with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to save it, then killed the deal he had reportedly struck.
Outside the White House, healthcare repeal/reform efforts died at least twice, a tax reform bill passed the House, more than a dozen members of Congress announced they were retiring or otherwise moving on with their lives, Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Ed Gillespie to become the next governor of Virginia, Sen. Rand Paul’s neighbor attacked him over yard waste, maybe, Sen. Luther Strange lost his primary to former Judge Roy Moore.
Speaking of Roy. He was accused of sexually molesting a 14-year-old girl when he was a 32-year-old district attorney. Then Al Franken admitted and apologized for groping a radio host during a USO tour, and Rep. John Conyers was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment, paid settlement claims but has denied wrongdoing. It’s all part of the chain reaction in the halls of power—from Washington to New York to L.A.—set off by the women who stepped forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of everything from sexual harassment to rape.
Hillary Clinton released a book blaming the election outcome on the Russians, Donna Brazile released a book blaming the election results on Hillary Clinton (full disclosure: I have not read either yet, because of the aforementioned infant).
Natural disasters wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Houston, Texas. The response in Texas was swift, the response in Puerto Rico remains less so.
Man-made disasters also took a toll. In my 90 days of maternity leave, there were more than 90 mass shootings—defined as the wounding or killing of four or more people in one incident—not including the shooter, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive. That included the largest such shooting in American history in Las Vegas and one inside a Texas church.
Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election rolled on. Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, was charged with money laundering and tax fraud, the world learned the name George Papadopoulos—a former member of Trump’s campaign foreign policy team—who plead guilty to lying to the FBI.
(Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn plead guilty to lying to the FBI on my first day back.)
Also on the Russian front, (thanks to reporting from The Daily Beast) we learned just how far Russian trolls went on social media to fuel American political divisions. So that guy Charlie from St. Pete, Florida, in your feed that was posting all these crazy anti-BLM memes? He was actually Sergey from St. Petersburg, Russia.
In response (not really) Twitter doubled the number of characters you can use. Something no one asked for ever.
Speaking of Twitter, the president tweeted about hate groups, his rally in Phoenix, ending the filibuster, the debt ceiling, James Clapper, Fake News, McConnell not doing his job, veterans, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Sen. Bob Corker, Corkers resignation, David Clarke’s new book, the Wall, NAFTA, Mexico, a Mother Teresa quote (on Aug. 27… I know, that one threw me too), a tax reform speech in Missouri, James Comey, Hillary Clinton (of course), Hillary Clinton’s new book, North Korea, DACA, Congress’ role in implementing DACA, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the response to both hurricanes, the criticism of the response to Hurricane Irma, ESPN, chain migration, the kid who mowed the White House lawn, supporting Sen. Luther Strange, blaming Strange for losing, his speech at the United Nations, the earthquake in Mexico, the Emmys, the greatness of Fox & Friends, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy’s healthcare bill, Rand Paul, standing for the national anthem, the NFL, Roger Goodell, John McCain, Nikki Haley, Jerry Jones, Roy Moore, his speech in Indiana about tax reform, welcoming Steve Scalise back to the House, adoration for Sean Hannity, Yom Kippur, FEMA, Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello, Rex Tillerson, “Rocket Man,” the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the stock market, Ralph Northam, Ed Gillespie, endorsing Gillespie, blaming Gillespie for losing, CNN, NBC News, Jemele Hill, his tax reform speech in Pennsylvania, National Farmer’s Day, Pakistan, Lou Dobbs, Chuck and Nancy, the Democrats, Tom Marino withdrawing from being the drug czar, CBS, ABC, Frederica Wilson, Niger, his call with the widow of a fallen soldier, wildfires in California, coal miners singing the national anthem, polls showing no one trusts the media, Lavar Ball... and so much more.
In many ways I feel like I’ll never catch up and yet, at the same time, the political world is exactly how I left it.
The tax reform bill is still moving through the legislative process, Obamacare—while weakened—is still the law of the land, and a government shutdown still looms.
Democrats are still scrambling to get their party together after their staggering 2016 election loss, Republicans are still scrambling to get their party together after the staggering 2016 election win.
President Trump remains himself.
Case in point: as I started ramping back up for work this week, he made a joke about Pocahontas while honoring World War II Navajo code talkers... in front of a portrait of noted killer of Native Americans President Andrew Jackson. Also this week: Trump reportedly questioned whether the infamous Access Hollywood tape was real (it is, he apologized for it) and whether President Obama was born in the U.S. (he was, Trump admitted this last year).
Rinse. Repeat. Tweet.