President Trump's first State of the Union address is a fine occasion to imagine how close we came to a President Hillary Clinton. Imagine if Clinton had actually campaigned in the Midwest instead of Arizona and won the closely contested Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. (Imagine the exact same congressional results.) Then imagine the dramatic difference in tone in our "news" media and entertainment elites as she prepared to deliver her first report to the nation.
What would we have seen in President Clinton's first year?
Tweets by Donald Trump, the loser, saying that the election was "rigged" and possibly tipped by international interference through The Clinton Foundation were disparaged as not only unpatriotic but also unhinged and more than a little sexist. CNN was especially aggressive in challenging anyone who questioned the new president's physical or mental fitness. The network sent chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta to Capitol Hill to yell at Republicans and demand they distance themselves from those obnoxious conservatives who cannot concede honorably and abide by the will of the republic.
When President Clinton fired FBI Director James Comey for almost preventing her election with his last-minute announcement about her emails, Democrats cheered and Republicans demanded an investigation. The press saw this for what it was: a GOP effort to again thwart the will of the American people. It gave continuous oxygen to the new #moveon effort to expose this agenda while ignoring Republicans' complaints.
In turn, Trump fans started the hashtag #Resistance, which the media immediately interpreted as a call for racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia and every other natural progression of man that would thoughtlessly be resisted by the far right. Trump supporters angrily respond by showing pictures of Bill and Monica Lewinsky, and Harvey Weinstein and Hillary, and to no avail. Their complaints were ignored.
Conservatives protested the narrow Clinton win by swamping Washington after the inauguration in the largest March for Life on record. But that night on the news, nobody noticed. The three major networks instead spent 10 minutes each celebrating Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards being named secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Washington Post created a new front-page motto for the Clinton era: "Democracy Thrives in Brightness." Owner Jeff Bezos insisted it underlined the newspaper's "historic commitment to holding all presidents accountable."
The Washington Times was soundly condemned for reporting that the president called West Virginia a "s---hole" in a private budget meeting with Republicans. Journalists denounced the story as unproved, since there was no audiotape, and insisted nothing could get done in a divided Washington if the GOP insisted on leaking private conversations.
Republicans reminded the press about all those stories centering on lamps flung by first lady Hillary in the general direction of the POTUS' cranium. The #moveon social-media armies were unleashed to squash this as more fiction from the right.
Liberal columnists deplored the ongoing dominance of the Islamic State in Iraq and compared it without shame to the projected spread of the Republican majority in the midterm elections of 2018.
It was another tough year for late-night comedians. At the Emmy Awards in September, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert almost came to blows backstage over who was more deserving to get President Clinton's 19th late-night interview. The president had just been hailed as still being the smartest girl in class after winning a game of charades with Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show."
President Clinton won a second Grammy award for Best Spoken Word Album for a collection of her speeches, including her inaugural address. A delighted duo of Madonna and Cher gratefully accepted on her behalf.
One year into the Clinton presidency, the economy would still be stalled; new taxes would be forthcoming to punish the greedy rich; the Islamic State would have the Middle East terrified; North Korea would be lobbing test missiles on the coast of Alaska; energy production would be at a standstill; and thus, the stage would be set to welcome President Clinton's call for the nation to march "Forward Together."
And how the media would swoon.