BEFORE THE STORM

 

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.

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