I've been feeling very disoriented for the last month or so. Moody, cautious. Not fearful so much as not invulnerable. As if there's a flu going around and my body is sending me signals.
There's a lot of this going around, much of it caused by the sense of vertigo experienced by more than half the nation's voters when their presidential expectations were flipped like a pancake.
That hissss-ing sound of the last few weeks as the new administration transitions via parody game-show cabinet appointments and needless poor-winner fake news tweets about massive voter fraud is the soft gooey liberal goodwill for the new president being seared, if not cauterized.
I've lived through turnaround presidential elections before. Some of us still think, wistfully, what chance Richard Nixon would have had against Bobby Kennedy had Bobby's presidential campaign not ended on the floor of a Los Angeles hotel kitchen the night he won the California Democratic primary. Would the Vietnam War have ended sooner? We'll never know.
Before Saigon fell, Nixon's imperial presidency peaked with his 49-state landslide reelection that ended with awkward farewell arm waves before his helicopter exit from the White House after his resignation.
Peanut farmer "Jimmy Who?" Carter's election victory over caretaker-turned-Republican-nominee Gerald Ford seemed like a genuine game changer for a brief feel-good moment in 1976.
But the president who promised to be as good as the American people is now identified with the word malaise, even though he never actually used the word in his July 1979 "Crisis of Confidence" speech about what was wrong with the nation.
Four months later, Iranian "student protesters" mocked the nation's inability to protect its sovereign territory overseas by attacking the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and seizing 66 staff members and others as hostages. The standoff lasted 444 days.
The final day of that crisis happened to be Inauguration Day for President Ronald Reagan, who is still the shining president on a hill in vast lobes of the national memory.
Reagan's nuke-toting "Smile when you say that, pardner" foreign-policy fierceness was perfectly matched by his "aw, shucks" Hollywood-sculpted domestic political style. His likability among the American people led to his being labeled the "Teflon president" because the scandals of his administration, specifically the Iran-contra arms-for-hostages deal, didn't seem to stick to him.
This led to the almost ludicrous news media post-Watergate cry of "What did the vice president know, and when did he know it?" about Iran-contra when Reagan's running mate, George H.W. Bush, sought the presidency in 1988. He lasted a single term, despite his brilliant diplomatic and military prosecution of the first Gulf War.
Another grinning Southern Democrat, Gov. Bill Clinton, was the last challenger to defeat an incumbent president at the polls, in 1992. And despite a second-term impeachment trial and DNA evidence showing he lusted with more than his heart, Clinton exited his presidency with the highest public approval numbers since Dwight Eisenhower.
Of the second George Bush presidency, I can only shut my eyes tight, clap my hands over both ears and shout, "La-la-la-la" until I think it's finally disappeared.
As for Barack Obama, the Jackie Robinson of presidents, whose very grace was seen as proof of insolence by those who wished he'd act angry just so they could point at him and shout, "See!" I wish only kinder treatment by history.
Looking forward, I can only believe - I choose to believe - that the best have not lost all conviction. And the worst? Well, America has a constitutional way of preventing a second coming.