The Year of Living Normally

Dave Pell
3 min readJan 19, 2018


Taking stock of Trump’s first year in the White House

Looking back, it’s sort of funny that the rallying cry in the early days of the Trump administration was: Don’t Normalize This.

Like there was any chance in hell we were going to be able to normalize these three words: “President Donald Trump.”

Yet, in at least one way, this was a very normal year: It was normal for him.

While the Trump presidency has been repeatedly shocking, to anyone who’s been paying attention, it hasn't been at all surprising.

One way we rate politicians is by assessing whether they actually govern as they campaigned. Trump was the exact same guy on the campaign trail as he’s been in the White House.

Trump ran as a narcissist. And Trump has governed as a narcissist. If anything, his narcissism has exceeded its promise. Trump’s narcissism is so powerful that run of the mill narcissists spent the last year thinking about Donald Trump. The original Narcissus stared at his own reflection in a pond. Trump renamed the pond Trump Pond.

As a candidate, Trump lied habitually and engaged in dangerously inappropriate attacks on America’s core institutions; from the free press to our intelligence agencies.

In office, he’s fired an FBI director, attacked federal judges,humiliated the head of his own justice department, and ended a year of attacks on the press by handing out the fake news awards.

On the campaign trail, he regularly pimped the Trump properties and brands.

And as president? Check. As the NYT reports: Just this week, “Indian developers are promising to fly the first 100 buyers in a new Trump Towers project to New York for a sit-down dinner with Donald Trump Jr.” (I think I’ll settle for the free steak knives.)

The wanton racism? Check.

The inability to focus on the details? Check (One of his first acts as president was to request more pictures in the daily briefing.)

The junk food diet? Check

The TV addiction? Check.

The self-aggrandizement, the hypocrisy? Check, Check.

The laughable hair, the weird orange makeup, and the too long ties? Check, Check, Check.

The Obama obsession? Oh, Check yeah.

The Tweeting about nuclear war? Check. (We all joked that this would happen if Trump ever became president. The joke just got less funny when he actually did.)

Question: Who would have guessed that President Donald Trump would do everything in his power to deny science and climate change and encourage environment ruin? Answer: Anyone who listened to anything he’s ever said on those topics.

It’s not just that Trump hasn’t changed since the days when he was running for president. It’s that he never really stopped running at all. He still holds rallies. He still attacks Hillary. They still yell, “Lock her up” during his speeches.

During this last week of his first year in office, Trump grew angry when John Kelly suggested that his boss’s views on the wall had evolved. And Trump had every right to be pissed. His views never evolve. He doesn’t evolve. When you think about it, it’s no surprise that the evangelicals love him. He’s the best proof we have that the theory of evolution is a ruse.

Even when it comes to the show factor, Trump has governed as he ran. His presidency has been every bit as entertaining as was his campaign. (Remember when we thought the campaign news cycle was exhausting? Those days were like the quiet moments when a roller coaster slowly clicks towards its peak height…) Trump has created the greatest show on earth. We’re a nation obsessed. People have become stars talking about Donald Trump. And people who were already stars have stopped what they were doing to start taking about Donald Trump instead. There is no other news. There is no other dinner conversation. And there has never been a more wildly entertaining and parody-worthy cast of characters. Anthony Scaramucci was on the show for like a week, and he probably has more name recognition than most vice presidents.

Yes, he’s dragged America into an ethical and cultural pit from which we’ll be digging out for generations. But to him, this all feels normal.

To the rest of us, it feels like a shithole.

Dave Pell Writes NextDraft: A Decidedly Abnormal Newsletter



Dave Pell

I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.