The nation was recently rocked by retaliatory nuclear blasts that have turned much of America into a barren wasteland, decimating the population, triggering the rise of firestorms and supervolcanoes, and generally bringing civilization to the brink of collapse. Let’s take a look at the political fallout.
- Congressional Republicans: Widespread destruction aside, this was a kumbaya moment for a caucus that has had its share of family spats of late. For the first time since coming together to narrowly pass the American Health Care Act in May, Speaker Paul Ryan wonkily persuaded the House GOP’s version of the Hatfields and McCoys — the principled hardliners of the Freedom Caucus on one hand, and the reasonable moderates of the Tuesday Group on the other — to set their bickering aside just long enough to squeak through a resolution in support of President Trump’s plan, tweeted out at 3:29 a.m. on Thursday morning, to “FRANCE IS LOOKING FOR TROUBLE. Sick country that won’t solve its own problems. Maybe nucluar?” Concerns that a more deliberative Senate would splash cold water on a rare show of Republican unity proved unfounded when Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the human fulcrum perched stoically at the precise center of American politics, revealed in a nationally televised special that she would vote to authorize nuclear war to balance out the fact that she had recently broken ranks with her party on an agriculture appropriations bill.
- CNN: As every news producer knows, nothing makes for better theater than war — and nothing makes for better CNN than theater. Right up until the moment when the first blast’s electromagnetic pulse wiped out all of the technology on the eastern seaboard, the cable giant was in fine form, drawing record viewership to a number of its weekday staples. The roiling debate over whether or not to abruptly drop hydrogen bombs on traditional allies proved to be compelling fodder; one particularly juicy squabble between contributors Jeffrey Lord and Lanny Davis will likely go down in history as the second-to-last thing to go viral. Time will tell whether Ari Fleischer’s observation that a nuclear conflict “could be the victory that Donald Trump needs to right the ship of this administration” holds true, but one thing’s for certain— this moment was CNN as it was meant to be: a grand arena where intellectual titans come to match wits and battle it out over issues with no clear answer.
- Donald Trump: Sure, the verdict may not be in just yet. But when the radioactive dust settles, we could be looking at a game-changing moment for a young presidency. Trump may have ruffled some feathers with less-than-sensitive remarks to the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman that the nuclear holocaust would be “way bigger than the old Holocaust,” but let’s be clear — political correctness has never been this man’s game. For a president with his eye on 2020, an uncertain path to reelection just got a whole lot more manageable, with the threshold for victory in the Electoral College now down from 270 votes to 14. While thermonuclear annihilation may be an inelegant solution, it burnishes the public impression of Trump as a man of action — eccentric, perhaps, but someone who at the end of the day isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty or seek out unorthodox solutions. Those who are still parsing whether the first wave of mortal attacks were justified are asking all the wrong questions. The truth is, it doesn’t matter — this president will be remembered as The Great Disruptor for taking strong and decisive action again and again. Goodbye Armageddon. Hello, Arma-mentum.
- Hillary Clinton: The former Secretary of State was spared from the vast and merciless extermination due to scheduled travel. To Wisconsin, you might ask? Of course not. Instead, the one-time Democratic nominee had jetted off to Tanzania to take part in a symposium on empowering women and girls in the world’s fastest-growing economies — an excursion that is sure to raise new questions about her ability to connect with everyday Americans. It’s the same old story: as ever, a politician notorious for being out-of-touch with regular people goes out of her way to prove it once again, this time by failing to relate to the now-quintessential American experience of being instantaneously vaporized into ash by a 500 kiloton wall of unsparing white light that — unlike some people we know — actually deigns to visit blue collar communities in every state.
- Decorum: One of the lasting images of western civilization will surely be that of Democratic lawmakers shouting “what the h*ll are you doing?!” at their colleagues from across the aisle during the decisive vote that emboldened President Trump to make good on his nuclear promises. Though it may be considered old-fashioned by some, plenty of Americans still cringe at crude language, and this latest episode is another sad reflection of the coarsening of our public life. The well of the House of Representatives is no place for curse words, no matter how frustrated you are by a vote that went the other way — but try telling that to the handful of irate Dems who, seemingly unaware that C-SPAN was there to capture every moment, hurled expletive after expletive at pragmatic adults-in-the-room Darrell Issa (R-CA), Justin Amash (R-MI), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) as they cast the votes that clinched a much-needed victory for Speaker Ryan. Here’s hoping that crass behavior on both sides soon gets eradicated along with all carbon-based life forms.
- All of those people who died: It can be easy to forget given how exciting the political implications are, but one underreported result of the nuclear holocaust is that hundreds of millions of human beings were killed, the unique symphonies of their lives silenced forever, never again to know the sweet breath of existence.