Letters. I get letters. I got one last week from a woman who loves the Flyer so much, she included a $50 check with her lovely note, so the staff could buy coffee and donuts. "Keep up the great work," she said. We'll certainly try. (And any checks are welcome, by the way. Coffee ain't cheap, and neither is journalism.)
I also got a letter with a copy of a pre-election column I'd written decrying the possibility of all the polls being wrong and Donald Trump winning the presidency. Included in the envelope were packets of salt and pepper to help me "eat my words." Let me tell you, newsprint is not tasty, no matter how much salt and pepper you put on it.
I have a friend who lives in Arkansas who is a big Trump guy. He runs the place where I go fly-fishing, and we've had many a political conversation over drinks and Fox News, which is always on at his place. Yesterday, I got a nice note from him in which he'd included a safety pin for my sweater and warm sentiments suggesting that if I needed to talk to someone, he was available for counseling. He also called me "buttercup."
And this is a friend.
So I decided that I was going to step back from all this political sturm and drang for a while, maybe take a break until the holidays were over. First, I stopped following Donald Trump on Twitter, which really helped. On my Facebook page, I posted pictures of gorgeous fall foliage on Belvedere and got lots of "likes." I put up a couple of shots of our new puppy from the West Memphis Animal Shelter. (Those people are doing the Lord's work; a no-kill shelter in West Memphis. C'mon.) Olive is so cute, people loved it. I shared a friend's wonderful and inspiring picture of the start of the St. Jude Marathon. I posted a link to an amazing National Geographic story about a tribe in the Amazon that could communicate telepathically. Life was good.
Then someone on my Twitter feed retweeted Trump's comments about Saturday Night Live and his complaints about CNN being "unfair" and his lie about being called by the president of Taiwan, and I broke. I reposted some of Trump's tweets on Facebook and bitched about his immaturity and adolescent whining. It felt good, but I'd broken my pledge.
Then I read a commentary about how progressives were screwing up; how trashing Trump will do nothing but make his supporters love him even more; how we need to try and understand where they're coming from if we're going to break through the anger and find ways to talk to one another. So I spent a couple of hours on the Breitbart and Fox News and InfoWars websites, reading stories with headlines like "Liberals Agree, Nothing Wrong with Incest," "Why the Clintons Must Face Justice," and "Trump Stands Up to Communist China with Phone Call."
Then I took a shower and decided we're doomed. We're stuck with this guy as president, and we're stuck with his neo-fascist advisors and his ridiculous cabinet and his incurable narcissism and his die-hard supporters. As a newspaper, all we can do is try to print the truth from our perspective. At least, Trump still seems to fear the press, and that's a good thing. If it ever gets the other way around, this country's in big trouble.
And I will say my new safety pin looks really nice on my sweater.