After two months of grief and misery considering what the Trump presidency would bring…and being sadly undisappointed that everything we feared was coming true, I am reminded of a previous travesty in my adopted state of Arizona that may offer some measure of hope to the country.
I’m speaking of course about the foreshortened administration of one Evan Mecham (pronounced MEEKem) who was inaugurated as the 17th governor of Arizona in 1987.
I remember the situation well. Evan Mecham got a surprise win of the Republican nomination following a bizarre split of the Democratic party during the general election. He was a successful wheeler-dealer businessman who ran on the promise of being a political outsider who could put Arizona back on a business-like basis. (His car dealership slogan was “If you can’t deal with Mecham, you just can’t deal.”)
However, Mecham was plagued by controversy from the get-go with accusations of questionable political appointments and cronyism and perhaps most notably, insensitivity to minorities and women — he cancelled the state’s paid MLK Day and attributed high divorce rates to working women. And let’s not even get into his defense of words like “pickaninny” and “round eyes.”*
Continuing with the wayback machine — and here’s your bright spot — I distinctly remember how much fun it was to rediscover radio news on my carpool ride home in the evenings as we looked in shock at each other wondering, “What’ll he say next?”
Not incidentally, he claimed that many of his problems were caused by media enemies.**
Eventually, his blathering got the best of him and Mecham became the first U.S. governor to simultaneously face removal from office through impeachment, a scheduled recall election, and a felony indictment.***
These recollections came to me as I was watching a Seth Meyers commentary (“A Closer Look” Jan. 23, 2017) on the Trump inaugural address:
“You’d think he might use his inaugural address to unite the country and provide an uplifting vision of the future. Instead, he opted for a nightmarish, dystopian hellscape.”
And Meyers’ characterization of Kellyanne Conway trying to explain the concept of “alternative facts” is priceless:
“Kellyanne Conway is like someone trying to do the Jedi Mind Trick after only a week of Jedi training.”
This sort of satirical fodder may seem weak consolations for the carnage to come in the next four years. And although we cannot hope (to quote The Donald) that “this American carnage stops right here and stops right now!”…at least we can enjoy the news again, knowing that Trump absolutely cannot help himself from putting his foot in it…bigly.
So grab your pussyhat and get ready for a wild ride.
* Hawkins, Steve L. “Inside the Wacky World of Evan Mecham.” U.S. News & World Report. (February 22, 1988).104: 29–30.
** “The people I listen to are the good people of Arizona. I don’t listen to the press.” (Oct. 26, 1987, AP News Archive) In later years, his press secretary, Ken Smith, would complain about “contrived political scandals and the subsequent coverage by sensationalist news media” (“Old letters, news clips and other documents regarding the impeachment of Arizona Governor Evan Mecham, 1987-88”)
*** Siegel, Mark. The World According to Evan Mecham: A Collection of Quotes, Observations, and Editorial Cartoons. (1987)