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Jeb Bladine: Calendar year has collection of politics

What would we do without calendar years?

They provide regular opportunities to regret various behaviors and pledge to do better in the year ahead – thus, the tradition of New Year’s resolutions going back to the Babylonians.

For the media, they are consistent, universally accepted vessels for collections of memorable events – thus, the annual Top Ten lists we all read between Christmas and New Year’s. That collection always is filled with politics, and this year is no exception.

Locally, what easily could have become the most prominent political story of the year was not confirmed nor reported. Instead, that honor went to the dramatic final month of campaign mischief by outside interests who desperately wanted Ken Moore to defeat Ron Noble for state representatives. Their ethical lapses blew up in their collective faces, and the result may be pivotal in politics of the 2017 Legislature.

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Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Statewide, the top political story arguably was the election of Dennis Richardson as secretary of state. He becomes the first Republican to hold a top-two state position since Norma Paulus was secretary of state in 1985 and Victor Atiyeh was governor in 1987. That story may gain prominence when Richardson starts auditing agencies operated under Democratic administrations during the past 30 years.

Nationally, the political story of 2016 was election of Donald Trump, but an interesting back-story is the continuing tale of “Trump Tweets.”

Those 140-character missives, so lacking in forethought and often in truth, frequently display a presidential thin skin covering a massive ego. The media struggles with how to handle them.

One camp, as Jack Shafer wrote in Politico Magazine, says to ignore them: “Like Pavlov’s dog, too many of us leap to object or correct the president-elect whenever he composes a deliberately provocative tweet … Haven’t any of these people raised children? … the pattern is obvious. He compiles these tweets precisely in order to elicit strident protest.”

The Washington Post, however, says we can’t ignore Trump’s Tweets: “This is the president-elect of the United States. The job comes with the so-called bully pulpit, and what he says matters and will be the subject of debate no matter what the mainstream media does … Either way, it’s going to be consumed by tens of millions of people.”

The Post now provides near-real-time fact-checking for Trump Tweets, which are connected to the original tweets.

And so, as usual at every level, year-ending politics have become the commencement for another calendar year.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com of 503-687-1223.

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