Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

December 30, 2012

Jack Lessenberry: Crystal ball couldn't have predicted weirdness

Imagine if my crystal ball had predicted a year ago that native son Mitt Romney would win the GOP nomination easily — but lose to President Obama in an electoral college landslide.

In Michigan, the result would be even more one-sided than nationally, with the president even beating Romney in the affluent county where the former governor's son grew up.

At the same time, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow would win by nearly a million votes over a former congressman who was expected to be a tough opponent. Democrats gained legislative seats as well.

But mere weeks after the election, Republicans will shove through a new law making Michigan a right-to-work state — in a single day, a law supposed "moderate" Gov. Rick Snyder happily signed.

My guess is that if I had predicted these things, I might have been sent to the columnists' toxicology clinic.

Nevertheless, all that happened — and I haven't yet mentioned U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, the GOP lawmaker who ran for president, failed, and then hid in his garage feverishly writing a pilot for an off-color TV sitcom starring himself. (It didn't sell.) Meanwhile, his staffers tried to get him on the ballot by illegally filing photocopies of old signatures instead of legitimate petitions.

He was knocked off the ballot, and two of his assistants are now awaiting sentencing. The voters in his suburban Detroit district then chose as their next congressman a reindeer trainer, former teacher and extreme GOP tea party figure who once said in a legal deposition that he had "a problem figuring out which one I am, Kerry Bentivolio or Santa Claus "¦ I prefer to be Santa Claus." Yes, all that really happened in Michigan in 2012.

So what can we expect for an encore in the new year?

Well, I still don't have a crystal ball. Yet this much is clear:

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