I didn’t listen to the voice of reason, to that better angel who zealously guards my well-being. I believed I was ready, but I wasn’t. What was I thinking?
More than two weeks ago I began paying daily attention to news coming from Washington, D.C. Big mistake. Even as the horrific massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland unfolded, I couldn’t tear myself away from the roller-coaster dysfunction that passes for our federal government. D.C. makes supermarket tabloid headlines mundane. Sadly, fact has become stranger than fiction.
I’ve been watching this surreal spoof unfold, tweet by tweet, sound bite by sound bite, paralyzed by incredulity. Or maybe it’s perverse amusement. D.C. news reminds me of one of my former city editors, a curmudgeon whose passion for facts and nose for a story had been honed in pre-clickbait newsrooms. “You can’t make this s--t up,” he’d bellow across the rewrite desk when a reporter was chasing a particularly juicy article.
Yep, we can’t make up the 115th Congress, or reality TV show President Donald Trump, or the aides accused of domestic abuse, or, especially, the total lack of courage to talk about gun violence.
Never miss a local story.
The real doozy, however, the one not even a Hollywood scriptwriter could dream up, involves an unlikely political player, porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump’s now very public indiscretion gives the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky cigar fiasco a run for sheer jaw-dropping titillation.
In the latest twist to that melodrama, Michael Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, admits he paid the porn actress $130,000 from his own pocket in the run-up to the 2016 election. It was “a pre-emptive measure” to protect the then-GOP candidate. To do this, Cohen set up an LLC in Delaware and claims he didn’t tell Trump — or anyone else in the Trump Organization, for that matter.
Wow. That Cohen is one hell of a loyal lawyer, a real martyr. I’m thinking of calling my own attorney, a childhood friend, and demanding similar generosity.
This porn star story may be the wackiest news coming from our capital but by no means is it the most important. There is, for example, the matter of when the White House knew about domestic abuse charges leveled at two high-ranking aides, especially after the FBI director contradicted West Wing versions. If that weren’t bad enough, the Rob Porter brouhaha revealed that more than 130 political appointees hadn’t secured permanent clearances as of November 2017, including members of Trump’s family and close advisers. Now that’s troublesome.
Little wonder the idea of a military parade seems so appealing to our president. It’s all about showmanship and deflection, about circuses and chariot races. (Oh, when it comes to governing, we owe so much to the ancient Romans!) The parade, though, carries a hefty price tag, anywhere from $3 million to as much as $50 million, so the idea may end up where it should, in the circular file.
No, you can’t make this up. Washington is nothing but a poorly written daytime soap opera, with cliches mouthed by self-serving B-list actors. That’s why I find all those politically expedient promises, all that prayers-and-thoughts sentimentality, all the chest-thumping after the Parkland school shooting — and the Orlando and Las Vegas carnage — insulting and hypocritical. I’ve heard it too many times: Our elected officials vow action, whether it’s protecting us from assault rifles or providing affordable insurance, but then get nothing done, whether its common-sense gun control or mental health services funding.
Looks to me, though, that there’s a clear winner in 2018 Washington: Stormy. With her many media appearances and her vow to spill the beans on the lust affair, Stormy has become a one-name wonder.
Will she play herself in a Netflix series? Inquiring minds want to know.