In November 1964 a crowd of 5,000 attended the opening of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, then the longest suspension bridge in the world. Presiding were New York Mayor Robert Wagner, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and transportation and parks czar Robert Moses. Also in the crowd was a teenager named Donald Trump.
Scott Walker's abrupt withdrawal from the Republican presidential race Monday afternoon shows how different, in ways noticed and unnoticed, this campaign cycle is from those of recent years.
As the 2016 presidential selection process proceeds, there is increasing evidence that the political patterns we have grown used to, that we have come to consider permanent, might be suddenly changing.
Human beings are hard-wired to protect young children. That's the easiest explanation of the rush of Europeans -- especially, but not only, elites -- to welcome huge numbers of refugees after publication of the picture of a dead three-year-old boy on a Turkish beach.
In response, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would take in 800,000 as refugees. That's 1 percent of Germany's population. The proportionate equivalent in the United States would be 3 million -- three times the level of legal immigration.
In this presidential cycle, voters in both parties, to the surprise of the punditocracy, are rejecting experienced political leaders. They're willfully suspending disbelief in challengers who would have been considered laughable in earlier years.
Some time in the early evening of Wednesday, London time, Queen Elizabeth II broke a record: she became the longest-serving monarch in British history, beating her great-great-grandmother Victoria's reign of 63 years and 216 days. She is also, at 89, by a solid stretch the longest-lived British monarch.
And still busy at work, with hundreds of public appearances every year and reading official papers every day in red boxes and meeting with the prime minister every week. The sovereign, as Walter Bagehot wrote in "The English Constitution" some 150 years ago, has "the right to be consulted, the right to encourage and the right to warn."
I've seen this movie before. And for the last 25 years, I thought I'd never have to watch it again. But now it's playing, not in theaters, but all over mainstream media, with something like rave reviews from the president and his administration.
Aside from the court-ordered dribbling out of Hillary Clinton's classified-material-filled emails, the big presidential campaign news of the summer has been the boom for Donald Trump in the race for the Republican nomination. Trump has risen from 3 percent in the polls (when he announced on June 16) to where he now stands at 26 percent -- 14 percent ahead of any other candidate.
In my last column, I looked at the possibility of two impossible things -- impossible things in the sense used by Alice and the Red Queen -- happening in the already turbulent 2016 presidential cycle. Here I'll look at another: the possibility that the partisan division lines that have endured with little change for two decades might suddenly shift and change.
This has happened before. History teaches two lessons pointing in opposite directions: Partisan divisions can stay the same for a long time. And they can change suddenly and without much warning.
One can't believe impossible things, Alice objected.