News & Politics

7 Things We Were Talking About on the Day 2020 Started

Anyone remember Ukraine?

1. There Was a Horrific Attack on a US Embassy

U.S. Army Photo by Maj. Charlie Dietz, Task Force-Iraq Public Affairs

The top story on New Year’s Day 2020 centered on a shocking December 31 attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, inside Iraq’s Green Zone. Protestors had breached the fortified embassy compound, presumably while some Iraqi security personnel looked the other way, and set fires around the property—retribution for US airstrikes on members of an Iranian militia. And come New Year’s Day, demonstrators were still out in force. The highly unexpected assault, to use official diplomatic parlance, shined a very unflattering light on our long-running geopolitical clusterf— with Iraq and Iran.

2. Vaping Was Public Enemy Number One

After months of public waffling, President Trump gave a New Year’s Eve heads-up that the FDA would soon ban the fruity e-cigarette flavors that kids were crushing on. The issue was said to be a pet cause of moms-of-teenagers Melania Trump and White House advisor Kellyanne Conway. Brad Parscale, Trump 2020’s then campaign manager, on the other hand, was against a ban—he worried it would hurt Trump turnout in swing states.

3. Mayor Pete Was a Media Darling

Photograph by Chuck Kennedy/Pete for America.

The leader of South Bend, Indiana—America’s second* openly gay presidential candidate—was heading into the Iowa caucuses with an incredible war chest and celeb-pol status thanks in part to his comms director basically never saying no to any interview request ever. As it turned out, Buttigieg didn’t have any staying power in the primaries. But hey, America’s incoming Secretary of Transportation is pretty pumped now—he’s number 14 in line for the presidency.

4. Anyone Remember Ukraine? 

Photograph by Gage Skidmore/FLICKR

On New Year’s in 2020, House Democrats and Senate Republicans were locked in high-level dickering over the Articles of Impeachment of Donald Trump, so that the third impeachment trial of a US President could begin (January 16) and quickly conclude (February 5). Let’s please not relive that, okay? Okay.

5. DC’s Fooderati Were Obsessed With Anju

Photograph courtesy of Anju

During the old days of 12 months ago—you know, back when scoring restaurant reservations was sport and line-standing for food never happened outside a grocery store—everyone was dying to go to Anju, a modern-Korean restaurant in Dupont. Our critics were obsessed with the laid-back vibe (anju translates to “food to consume while drinking”) and especially the gochujang fried chicken. Thankfully, those double-fried wings can still be had today—you just have to get them delivered.

6. People Besides MAGA Protesters Came to Washington

Museums were open. Restaurants were open. Celebrities still came to town. And instead of reflecting on a pandemic year that killed more than 300,000 and shut our city borders to everyone but maskless demonstrators angry about an election fraud that wasn’t, we were somewhat blissfully looking back on a year of Kardashians at the White House.

7. Dry January Was Still a Thing 

Summerhouse Santa Monica’s watermelon smash. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Last January, a lot of people were getting sober-curious. A lot of other people were going cold turkey to atone for one too many holiday happy hours. A lot of people are probably not doing that this year.

*Corrected. Buttigieg was not the first openly gay candidate for President; Republican Fred Karger was.

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Kristen Hinman
Articles Editor

Kristen Hinman has been editing Washingtonian’s features since 2014. She joined the magazine after editing politics & policy coverage for Bloomberg Businessweek and working as a staff writer for Voice Media Group/Riverfront Times.