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43° Good Afternoon
OpinionColumnistsMichael Dobie

Lessons we learned from Washington and the world

School’s out. The kids learned a lot. The rest of us learned a lot, too.

A classroom with adults.

A classroom with adults. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto / Matej Kastelic

School’s out.

The kids learned a lot. As always, let’s hope they don’t forget too much over the summer.

The rest of us learned a lot, too, this past semester. Here’s hoping we don’t forget our lessons.

We learned that:

Writing monumental bills about things like health care behind closed doors is OK when it’s your party doing the writing, but it’s sacrilegious and contemptible when the other party does it. Will anyone break the cycle?

President Donald Trump sympathizes deeply and immediately with the victims of radical Islamic terrorism — unless the victims are Muslims or people defending Muslims, and then he’s much slower to react if he reacts at all.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is a millstone for any Democratic House candidate who gets yoked to her. The party not only needs a better message it also needs a fresh start.

Nationalism was sweeping across Europe, until it suddenly wasn’t, an unusual spectacle of revisionism getting ahead of history.

Even as Trump was pulling out of the Paris climate change agreement because of its supposed unfairness to American businesses, a group of big oil companies and other corporate titans went in the other direction. They said they supported a plan pitched by some wise old GOP heads for a carbon tax as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make fossil fuels more expensive and force the market to move more quickly toward renewable energy. Who do you think knows best?

There is no Trump whisperer when it comes to his tweets, after he had to admit he does not have the tapes he invoked to try to intimidate James Comey before the former FBI director’s Senate testimony. His businessman’s bluster didn’t work, and now he has a special counsel drilling deep.

The coolest things happen in science. From astronomers discovering new planets that could host life, to Northwestern University scientists making ovaries with 3-D printers that let infertile mice give birth, to Segway inventor Dean Kamen saying that organs engineered from a person’s own cells to be transplanted without being rejected will be ready in five years, these people should be our rock stars.

Health insurance startup Oscar Health announced it would start selling plans on Obamacare exchanges in Tennessee, California, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas despite GOP contentions that Obamacare is dead or dying or imploding or collapsing. Oscar’s co-founder is Joshua Kushner, brother of Jared. Go figure.

A political neophyte can harness the energy of a frustrated populace, upend established parties, and ride the wave to become president — of France. And not see eye to eye at all with the political neophyte who harnessed the energy of a frustrated populace, upended established parties, and rode the wave to become president — of the United States.

After 400 years, people still don’t get Shakespeare, or they wouldn’t complain about the assassinated Julius Caesar being depicted as a Trump-like character in a play that warns about defending democracy in such antidemocratic ways.

There are ways to get people to eat their vegetables. Stanford University researchers got more diners to eat “dynamite chili and tangy lime-seasoned beets” than “lighter-choice beets with no added sugar” or just plain “beets.” The food was the same. Your move, moms.

Russia is indeed an ominous specter looming over our republic. The country and its leader are not our friend, the repeated hacking into many states’ election-related computer systems is a quantifiable threat and, in Comey’s to-be-immortal words, “It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally.”


Michael Dobie is a member of Newsday’s editorial board.


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