Feature

The Year in Review

By From the December 1987 issue

Send to Kindle

It was another bad year for liberals, as what had once been called "the New Right" consolidated its domination of American politics. The new tone was perhaps best typified on May 2, when President Patrick Buchanan laid a wreath on the tomb of Senator Joseph McCarthy on the fiftieth anniversary of the once-despised Wisconsin senator's death. "We must rededicate ourselves to his ideals," the President said, "and see to it that never again is a patriotic public servant hounded to an early grave."

Other highlights of 2007:

January:
• President Buchanan explained that his decision to drop a hydrogen bomb on the city of Hiroshima was largely symbolic. "Santayana said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it," he told a crowded press conference. "Those who are tempted to use sharp trading practices against this country cannot choose between Santayana and sayonara." He also listed ten more cities, including Tokyo, Mexico City, and Stockholm, as targets for future blasts.

• Pornographer Hugh Hefner, 81, was electrocuted in California after the Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal for a stay of execution. "This had dragged on way too long," said Associate Justice Jerry Falwell. "Justice delayed is justice denied."

• As the last known homosexual, Percy Piper of Los Angeles, died of AIDS, officials of the Food and Drug Administration acknowledged that they had been sitting on a cure for the deadly disease. "There was no need to release it," said an FDA spokesman. "The problem was taking care of itself."

February:
• Former Senator Edward Kennedy, 75, drowned, an apparent suicide, after driving off a Massachusetts bridge. Family friends said he had been despondent ever since his rejection by the voters.

• President Buchanan signed a major new tax reform bill establishing a sliding scale of taxation. Under the new plan, those earning less than $10,000 a year will pay 50 percent of their gross income to the federal government, while those earning more than $1,000,000 will pay no taxes at all.

• In Albuquerque, a routine police raid uncovered a huge cache of illegal condoms, apparently smuggled in from Mexico.

March:
• Air Force officials announced the removal of a final hitch preventing deployment of the long-awaited "Star Wars" missile defense system. "We hope to have a first-strike capability by Christmas," said General Howard Tripp.

• Harvard president Jim Bakker announced that the venerable university would change its name to Boston Bible College. "We've got to get back to the original ideas of the founders," he said.

April:
• For the fourth straight year, FBI statistics showed a sharp decline in the number of crimes against wealthy people.

• Seven more states ratified a proposed constitutional amendment barring the teaching of the theory of evolution in publicly funded schools and universities.

• The Supreme Court upheld the use of torture against criminal suspects, provided that all other methods of securing confessions had been exhausted. "Torture must never be an end in itself," wrote Justice Gilead Simms for the 8-to-1 majority. "In the great majority of cases wiretaps, raids, informants, and threats should suffice to extract information leading to conviction. The excesses of the Miranda era cannot be invoked to justify excesses in the opposite direction."

May:
• Citing health reasons, Justice Robert Bork, 80, announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. According to Washington insiders, the real reason for Justice Bork's retirement was his discouragement at being the last remaining apostle of judicial restraint in an era of conservative activism.

• The Washington Post resumed publication after a six-month interruption. Managing editor Richard Cohen issued an apology for having published unauthorized Pentagon leaks and pledged never to do so again.

• President Buchanan signed a bill abolishing the minimum wage. "The main beneficiaries of this bill will be young blacks," he explained, "but that's unavoidable. The positive side is that white employers will profit too."

June:
• INS officials demanded the extradition of fugitive abortionist Dr. Henry Coombs from Sweden, to stand trial in this country for crimes against humanity.

• The Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the drunk driving laws of all 50 states. Speaking for the five-man majority, Justice Grover Rees held that drunk driving was protected by a "penumbra" of the Twenty-First Amendment.

• In a voice vote, the House of Representatives voted down a proposal to restore women's suffrage.

July:
• An explosion ripped through the New York headquarters of the American Civil Liberties Union, killing the entire national board of directors, who had convened for their annual meeting. A city police official said the blast was "probably due to faulty wiring or something," adding that he saw no need for an investigation.

• In his first White House visit, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini congratulated the United States on its moral regeneration. "We used to think of the U.S. as 'the Great Satan,'" the aged ayatollah smiled. "How times do change."

August:
• A special prosecutor announced the indictment of six Democratic congressmen on charges of treason, citing "a clear pattern of pro-Communist discrimination" in their voting records.

• Chicago police issued an apology after raiding a Ku Klux Klan meeting, explaining that they had been misled by an anonymous tip that the gathering was socialistic.

September:
• The FBI formally established a new department of Vice Control, popularly known as "bedroom cops." "The law is very clear as to sodomy," said FBI director John Lofton. "It means all forms of sodomy, and it doesn't make exceptions for husbands and wives. Being married doesn't put you above the law."

• President Buchanan returned from a state visit to South Africa, during which he conferred with South African leaders about a mutual defense pact. "I saw a vibrant, booming country," he said in a nationally televised address. "Where are they now, those prophets of gloom and doom who said apartheid would never work?"

• Secretary of State Howard Phillips responded harshly to Soviet charges that the United States is hatching plans for a new escalation of the arms race, in violation of formal and informal arms control agreements. "Since when do they think treaties are holy?" he snorted.

• The United States agreed to pay reparations to the government of Nicaragua for its role in toppling the regime of the late Anastasio Somoza. "We hope this will remove one of the darkest stains in our national record," said President Buchanan. "We helped doom the Nicaraguan people to more than a decade of Communist tyranny." Nicaraguan president Pedro Somoza termed the U.S. action "gracious and generous."

October:
• The Supreme Court struck down all federal "social programs" passed since 1933 as invalid under the Tenth Amendment.

• President Buchanan signed into law a mandatory church attendance act. Brushing aside civil libertarian criticism of the law as "communistic," the President called the Constitution "a living document whose genius lies in its adaptability to current needs."

November:
• Pope John Paul III excommunicated the entire Jesuit order. Vatican observers predicted a similar move against the American Catholic bishops.

• The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced plans to convert Boston Harbor into a nuclear waste dump. "This opens the way to a new era of cheap energy," exulted an agency spokesman. "It also sends a clear message to those states still inclined to elect liberal politicians."

December:
• President Buchanan refused to rule out a re-election bid. "Our approval ratings are sky-high," he said, "so as commander-in-chief I don't see any immediate need for a coup."

• The Presidential Commission of Poverty and Sloth recommended that states follow the federal government's lead in abolishing all welfare programs. "These systems are based on the outmoded premise that poverty is a function of environment," the commission's report said. "We know now that heredity and race are the key factors."

• The long-suppressed full text of the Warren Commission Report on the assassination of President John F Kennedy was finally released to the public, along with a purported correspondence between former Chief Justice Earl Warren and Nikita Khrushchev, apparently confirming charges that Warren, gunman Lee Harvey Oswald, and several others were acting under direct orders from the Soviet strongman.

• The year ended on a dramatic note as President Buchanan hinted that the United States was about to take a major new initiative against the Soviet Union. "We have a little New Year's surprise for the Soviets," he said, "and it isn't Guy Lombardo."

MILTON GRIMSBY BOLTED UP IN BED. His pajamas were soaked with sweat. He looked around the bedroom. It was still 1987. His wife was already dressed and ready to go to her law office.

"Oh Megan," he said, "I've had the most awful dream--"

"I'm not surprised," she said, "the way you made such a pig of yourself at the Bradens' party last night."

"No, listen. It was 2007, the year 2007, and the right-wingers had taken over everything, and--"

"Where have you been? That happened in 1980."

"No, Megan, no! That was just the beginning! In my dream, Pat Buchanan was President, Jerry Falwell was on the Supreme Court, and you'll never guess who was FBI director."

"Not R. Emmett Tyrrell?"

"No, worse. It was--"

"Milton," Megan sighed, "I've got to get to work, and you're going to be late yourself." She snatched her purse from the dresser and marched out.

Milton swung stiffly off the bed and pulled on his robe. The world was starting to seem normal again, but he had to make sure. He hurried into the living room and opened the front door and looked down.

Yes. The Washington Post was on the porch.


Joseph Sobran is a senior editor of National Review and a nationally syndicated columnist.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article