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Smoke rises skyward above the near dead embers of Donald Trump’s administration, a presidency like no other, the first in memory during which there was no White House dog, unless you count Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Donald Trump is being “retired,” although many questions remain. For example, folks want to know whether, within Rudy Giuliani, there may lurk additional unsustainable legal arguments or other unanticipated entities that yearn for the fresh air of freedom. Others ask whether voting for Trump was a veiled effort to prove that government cannot be trusted.

When White House savants sought to inspire the unemployed with the cheesy slogan, “Try Something New,” did those geniuses consider that the new “something” might be Joe Biden? On the heels of the president’s tweet, “Liberate Michigan,” when a group of knuckle draggers plotted to kidnap and kill the state’s governor, did Mr. Trump’s advisors see flames coming through the White House roof and think it was a weenie roast?

Will Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his GOP colleagues (excepting Utah’s Mitt Romney) be nominated for Oscars for their magnificent portrayals of the deaf and blind during Trump’s Senate trial?

We end the year with such questions while finding ourselves in the midst of twin pandemics — COVID-19 and Trump-numbness. The president continues to feed his legions a nutrition-free diet of “hoaxes.” He has used the term to characterize COVID-19, global climate change, Russia’s aid in his election, the Mueller investigation, his impeachment and anything else that tended to inconvenience his daily dogpaddle in the river of constant adoration.

In black and white contrast to the president’s non-hoaxes, we have watched the uncovering of actual hoaxes such as Trump University, the Trump Foundation, Trump’s supposed business wizardry and assertions that he is an effective president. Each, a scam. He gave himself a “10” on dealing with COVID-19. (A fawning Gov. Jim Justice awarded him “superstar” status). But Mr. “I alone can fix it,” found himself overmatched by the virus and quickly announced that, where COVID was concerned, “The Federal government is [merely] a backup,” to the states.

This was a year that our president repeated and re-tweeted bizarre claims by the carload. A mere sampling of his threadbare goods included his re-tweet that masks are a government plot to subjugate the masses, that the election was “rigged,” that ballots were “dumped in dumpsters,” that Democrats want to “shut your churches down,” and that “... [somebody] at the FDA is trying to undermine development of a vaccine.” Such beliefs surely originate within the same psychological ZIP code as do tales of abduction by space aliens.

Meanwhile, the U.S. was suffering the worst cyberattack in history — at the hands of Russia. Rather than condemning the breach, the president remains largely silent, opting to spend the majority of his waning days in office by addressing the twin challenges of overturning the election and making par.

Yet, despite 2020’s darkness, we continue to witness national heroism on a level perhaps not seen since World War II. Our health care workers keep showing up and demonstrating patriotism on an epic scale. Teachers do the same, carrying out their responsibilities in experimental ways — in their classrooms one day and on-line the next. Yet they push on. The nation salutes them.

And the emergency medical folks, the police and the firefighters all keep going and, like the others, do so at relatively low pay and many times with little thanks. Thus we say to them a thousand times, thank you.

There was a new awakening in America this year as the Black Lives Matter movement inched us closer to racial equality. We saw inspiring images of protesters, mostly violence-free and wearing masks, in the wake of George Floyd’s awful death.

In Charleston, the former Stonewall Jackson Middle School was renamed Westside Middle. There is talk of moving Jackson’s statue from the Capitol grounds to the state’s museum, where his place in history will be accurately remembered, rather than idealized. And it appears that changes will occur to the designations of 10 of our military bases that are named for men who did their best to destroy the nation.

A new year also brings an end to the agony of a fact-averse White House with its attendant drama. We welcome renewals of stability, competence and thoughtful decision making. We welcome deliberations that are based on reality.

We welcome 2021. We have waited long enough.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University. Reach him at