We end each year with quiet reflection and thoughtful planning. We know, deep down, that the formulaic resetting of our calendar has no tangible impact on anything – it’s just a means of tracking the passage of time. But the new year is a chance to start over, and starting over brings us hope.
We make promises to ourselves. We call them resolutions. And then we kick and claw and scratch our way through life, one day and one transaction at a time, trying like heck to keep them. When we fail, there’s always next year.
Imagine all the resolutions our politicians must be making today. For many of them, there is no next year: 2018 will make or break their careers. On both the state and national level, there is much at stake, and these politicians are leaving the gloves at home.
Gov. Sam Brownback will have to fight his way through what has already been an abnormally long confirmation process for his new ambassadorship. In theory, he’s still behind the wheel of the state’s affairs, but in practice, he’s riding shotgun to Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer. Colyer desperately wants Brownback’s appointment to go through, as he wants his incumbent status cemented well in advance of the gubernatorial election in November. The added name recognition and built-in advantage of incumbency may be what it takes to topple the Kris Kobach machine.
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Inside the Beltway, Rex Tillerson is quietly making resolutions of his own. Will he wait a few more weeks until he reaches the one-year mark as Secretary of State, and then flee Washington D.C. for the comfort of his own mansion and nine-figure bank account? If he does, who could blame him? Not long ago, Tillerson was brokering complex oil deals with foreign leaders on behalf of a mega-billion-dollar corporation. Now he’s taking his foreign policy cues from a boss who gets his foreign policy cues from one-page cheat sheets and cable news. For Tillerson, the fight is an internal one – the man is not a quitter, but this is not the job he bargained for.
If there is one man who could fill an entire fight card on his own, it is President Donald Trump. Trump does not appear to be a man who makes self-motivating resolutions – he lacks the time or the capacity for inward reflection. While allies of his like Roger Stone are plotting intricate, multi-faceted attacks on their enemies, Trump is punching Tweets into his iPhone. And if he makes amends with his adversary a week later, it’s all the better – anything for a deal. From Robert Mueller to Kim Jong Un, Chuck Schumer to Bob Corker, Jeff Sessions to the increasingly-loose-lipped Steve Bannon, outside his party to inside his own Cabinet – and perhaps even his own family, if Jared Kushner doesn’t tread more carefully – and everyone and everywhere in between, Trump’s lifelong resolution is to go to war until he gets what he wants.
And 2018 will be no different. It’s going to be a wild year.
Blake Shuart is a Wichita attorney.