It was Donald Trump’s worst week ever, except for all the others.
- Been there, done that. A series of disastrous statements and missteps cost the president support and drew scorn from both parties, leading to predictions of his imminent political demise. Oh, wait. That sentence could have been written last week. Or six months ago. Or dozens of times since. Yes, this week Senate leader Mitch McConnell reportedly is wondering whether Trump’s presidency might fail. The president is bickering with GOP leaders who should be his allies. And major policy initiatives appear to be going nowhere. But Trump’s approval ratings haven’t gotten worse post-Charlottesville and his base seems as thrilled with him as ever. Trump’s been written off many times before. There’s no reason to believe this time is any different.
- Fake Donald; genuine Donald. On Tuesday, Trump gave a solemn address urging Americans to “find the courage to heal our divisions within.” At a raucous event in Phoenix the next day, he exacerbated those divisions. The solemn language Tuesday was obviously scripted by staff, words put in the mouth of an unhappy puppet. Wednesday, on the other hand, was vintage Trump — playing to his base, attacking the media bogeyman, making up facts and uttering dire threats to enemies all around. Chief of staff John Kelly may be able to control his charge when he’s in the White House. But let him outside and the @realDonaldTrump emerges.
- Finding someone to pick on. The president appears to be making good on a tweeted promise to ban transgendered folks from the military, with the White House now preparing to issue rules blocking new transgendered recruits and kicking out those already serving. This has the feel of red meat thrown to a starving dog. Trump’s failed to achieve any of the big policy items he promised and — a la Afghanistan — has reversed himself on others. So, he must be wondering, what to do? I know! Let’s beat up on folks different from us!
- Tree falls in forest; no one around to listen. Over 40,000 Bostonians showed up at the Common on Saturday to protest a “free speech” rally in favor of … well, actually, no one knows. There were only a handful of folks at the rally, police kept media away from them and while we think they were in favor of bad stuff, they might just as well have been extolling the virtues of Tupperware.
- Staring at the sun. Americans on Monday forgot their troubles and took off work to see the once-in-a-lifetime experience of a total eclipse. But wait! It turns out that over the next 13 years the world will see eight more total eclipses as well as another 22 partial or annular eclipses. So once-in-a-lifetime means, I guess, if you have the lifespan of, say, a gerbil.
- Reefer regression. Surprise, surprise. Gov. Charlie Baker’s first appointment to the Cannabis Control Commission, the regulatory body that’s supposed to oversee the nascent pot industry, is — wait for it — an ardent opponent of pot. Look, we all know what’s going on here, right? Baker, along with almost every other elected politician, vociferously opposed the voter-approved legalization of the drug. Now that it’s happened, they’re still opposing it, just in other ways. Looking forward to the opening of your local weed store? Keep on looking.
- Hyannis hijinks. Max Kennedy and his daughter got arrested on Cape Cod for having a loud party, thereby proving that all Kennedys are entitled louses and creeps — oh, come on. With nine Kennedys in the original clan, sons and daughters and grandchildren and great grandchildren are adding up to a lot of folks. Most families (mine excepted, of course) have a few jerks that they’d rather not talk about. The problem for families of wealth and fame is that everyone knows who those few are.
- American dream. And finally, a Chicopee gas station sold one lucky lottery player the $758.7 million Powerball jackpot, hereby proving once again that if you go to school, sacrifice, work hard, and are on the right side of a 1-in-292 million chance, America really is the land of opportunity.
This column was first published by Cognoscenti on August 25, 2017.