Not that the political – world, domestic – weather hasn’t already been chaotic. But for a few days this week, with the Donald abroad and all fingers crossed, Washington was almost able to get down to doing what it’s supposed to do. Not necessarily successfully, but familiarly enough so that millions of Americans had a chance to inhale, deeply, and reflect.
Primarily, it seems, D.C. is on an investigational bender. With good reason. Robert Mueller, our new eminence grise, has stayed below the radar and, we presume, begun to dig into the files, tapes, correspondence, committee appearances that preceded his appointment. Whether he will be able, in the end, to demonstrate collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is still an open matter, but what he’s unearthing on the way to that decision is providing a great deal of entertainment for cable news and the newspapers.
After all, for weeks we’ve been asking the same question over and over again: has anyone ever heard Jared Kushner speak? With Mr. Kushner on our home screens these past few days, we’ve begun noticing that while his mouth moves, no sound emerges. Delicately he covers it so as not to be lip-read by “enemies,” whether in meetings with the president, walking the halls of Congress, even holding his children. Whether he allowed his vocal chords to warm while in Saudi Arabia or Israel, we cannot know. And while we hesitate to celebrate prematurely at his downfall (which may never come, after all), we are learning about Kushner’s “back-story” as a slum landlord and combative (and heartless) plaintiff in courts around the nation.
The similarities between Trump and Kushner’s modus is too pronounced to ignore. Briefly, they are both still getting “away with it.” The Donald saunters into Saudi Arabia, does a sword-dance, and sells arms – good for our national GDP. In Israel, neither man says a word about the two-state solution. Donald and Bibi have fun together. Melania looks glamorous. No pain, no gain. Donald, as is his wont, beards the lions in their dens. He flies to Brussels where he refuses to admit the validity of the basic tenet of NATO, Article 5, which specifies that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all. This makes our NATO allies feel loved and protected. Lest they feel too beloved, he criticizes once again the lack of financial follow-through of our allies, saying “it isn’t fair,” like a six year old. His German counterpart, Ms. Merkel, has the balls of the 28 nation organization to call out Donald on building walls rather than bridges – warming up for the Donald’s next stop in Rome where he is to meet with the Pope, and with whom he has already had this same conversation.
Donald storms the Vatican, protected by his wife and his daughter. The Pope is well-behaved. For our money, we would be willing to put our fates in the hands of the Pope and Melania. On to Sicily.
We know that when the president returns, his minions will set up a hue and cry about his incredible successes abroad, the best, the most noble, the most far-sighted. “Est” used to be a tantric philosophy that gave people the feeling of well-being and growth. “Est” now simply belongs to Donald as the title of his newest, soon-to-be-published memoir. A thousand pages of best, brilliant, bigly.
While Donald has been away, Paul Ryan has been trying to excavate support for his budget without a great deal of success. Mitch McConnell has been fighting a rear-guard action in favor of the Senate’s health care bill, again without much success. And a guy in Montana, stripping the Donald’s playbook for his own uses, is elected to the House after beating up a member of the inquisitive press.
We’ve only got a few hours left of relative normalcy. Take your kids to Chucky Cheese (if you can afford it); make a doctor’s appointment, if you have health care; watch one more night of Stephen Colbert.
Prepare yourselves to see a huge welcome-home celebration at Andrews Air Force Base. Get ready for more Republican enablement. Read with increasing dismay what the EPA is cutting. Understand that the plight of our American veterans is as wretched as before. Listen as Betsy DeVos destroys what was once America’s greatest accomplishment, public education. Admire Susan Collins for coming up with a bi-partisan bill for better healthcare, knowing Mitch will never allow it to get the floor of the Senate. Count the number of people in your family who may need food stamps – there is a new rule that states families of six or less qualify, all others need not even think of applying. Watch as Jeff Sessions cannot recall ever taking an oath to protect and preserve law and order.
And wait for the Donald’s interpretation of his first massively successful foreign journey to solve the problems of the world.
Calms before storms are wonderful opportunities to prioritize, to bolster your own beliefs, to remember how once America grew with the influx of one wave, and then another, of talented, driven immigrants who believed in our country as we ourselves did.
Know that the rest of the world believes in Donald Trump less than we do.
Understand that the government of the United States is going to be as star-crossed as never before.
Secretly, with your friends, read and discuss the US Constitution. Be ready to fight for the history and power and leadership in which we all once believed.