The snow blasted across the backyard in horizontal sheets. The wind scoured some parts of the lawn to bare grass, and buried others in four-foot drifts.
I watched three finches cling to the bird feeder as it rocked back and forth. And I thought of the rest of us these past seven days, caught in a dizzying whirlwind of news, just trying to hang on.
There have been crazy weeks lately but perhaps none quite like the one that just passed. And 2018 has just begun. Hopefully, anyone still secretly harboring a notion that things would settle down in the second year of this presidential administration has been disabused of such silliness.
It took less than 24 hours for the news cycle to steamroll the scarily surreal spectacle of two world leaders taunting each other about their nuclear buttons — with President Donald Trump citing the size of his in response to a jab from North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. The eclipse came with the release of excerpts from the Michael Wolff book “Fire and Fury” about life in the White House under Trump.
Now we know former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon says Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort’s meeting with a Russian lawyer was treasonous, Trump does not read, and many Trump aides do not disagree with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that their boss is a moron.
The book is still being vetted, but the general consensus among those who cover or deal with the White House is that Wolff’s overall account of chaos rings true. That means the real question it poses is whether this mass of information collected in one place depicting Trump’s behavior, mental state and fitness for office becomes a turning point in what the public and Congress think about Trump.
As we obsessed on that, other consequential things rushed past.
The Trump administration plans to open coastal waters to drilling despite protests from Republican governors like Florida’s Rick Scott and from tourism, fishing and recreation interests (the latest prioritization of big business over small). Even if you accept that “energy dominance’ is a worthy pursuit, why is it always about coal and oil? What about wind and solar, which create lots of jobs and do less environmental harm?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions freed prosecutors to vigorously enforce federal marijuana laws in states where the drug is legal. Trying to stop a culture shift is its own form of reefer madness, and the move was opposed by Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, whose state allows medical and recreational marijuana. He vowed to block Justice Department appointments. Memo to Gardner: You’re in Congress. You can help change federal law to leave marijuana up to states. Republicans love to talk about states’ rights. Get it done.
News also broke that Trump ordered White House Counsel Don McGahn to stop Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation because the president wanted Sessions to protect him from it, adding another log to the fire of those who think special counsel Robert Mueller is closer to making a case against Trump for obstructing justice than colluding with the Russians.
Then there were flare-ups like Trump ending his fraudulent voter fraud commission, Manafort suing Mueller for allegedly exceeding his authority in indicting Manafort, the feds probing corruption in the Clinton Foundation, and Trump saying the FBI is part of the “Deep State.” Who knew bombogenesis was a thing? Did anyone notice that San Francisco had an earthquake, or that Florida got snow? Or that Trump said talks between North and South Korea were good after saying for months that talks were useless?
How do you find your footing in that kind of blizzard?
We’re all just finches, trying to survive the storm.
Michael Dobie is a member of Newsday’s editorial board.