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The Week That Was: Big Buttons, New Year’s Numbing And Mitt On The Move

President Donald Trump together with first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron Trump returns to the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, from a holiday break at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
President Donald Trump together with first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron Trump returns to the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, from a holiday break at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

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Editor's Note: Every Friday, Tom Keane offers up assorted observations, conundra and miscellanea about the week that was. Here's his round-up for the week ending Jan. 5, 2018.


It was the week when we figured out that one of Donald Trump’s New Year’s resolutions was definitely not to become more presidential.

Looks like it wasn’t a good week off. The president returned from vacation and unleashed a slew of tweets at a host of enemies. In particular, he taunted Kim Jong-un, bragging that his nuclear button was bigger than Kim’s nuclear button. Perhaps. Or maybe Trump just has smaller hands.

DC soap opera. Just-released excerpts from writer Michael Wolff’s forthcoming book on Trump’s first year show a bizarre president out of his depth, a White House in disarray and a host of characters more interested in attacking one another than running the country. It’s delicious, gossipy stuff. But tales of palace intrigue — as fun as they are to read — don’t usually end up changing palace life. And in this case, the book is less revelatory than it is confirmation of something we, unhappily, already knew.

White House psychiatrist. Trump ripped into Steve Bannon after his comments in Wolff’s piece, saying he was “out of his mind.” Bannon responded by saying Trump was “a great man,” which, I guess, kind of proves Trump’s point.

Boom. Sure, things are looking bad for Trump right now. Even his own daughter is mocking his hair. On the other hand, the Dow this week hit 25,000. If the economy continues to perform as investors are thinking, no one will be caring that Trump had scalp reduction surgery, won’t let anyone touch his toothbrush and thinks McDonald’s is a sure-fire way to avoid being poisoned.

Sen. Good Hair. Sen. Orrin Hatch announced he was retiring, instantly making former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney a favorite to be Utah’s next senator. No question, Romney will have a high profile — he was, after all, the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2012. But what kind of profile? His political vacillations while governor and as nominee have been much noted. And his take on Trump varies too. He brutally took him down during the campaign. And then sucked up when it seemed like he might become secretary of state. Given his popularity in Utah, he’ll be able to do whatever he wants. But what no one really knows is: What does Mitt want?

Mitt Romney is interviewed by Neil Cavuto during his "Cavuto Coast to Coast" program on the Fox Business Network, in New York Friday, March 4, 2016. (Richard Drew/AP)
Mitt Romney is interviewed by Neil Cavuto during his "Cavuto Coast to Coast" program on the Fox Business Network, in New York Friday, March 4, 2016. (Richard Drew/AP)

Also known as a blizzard. A week’s worth of brutal cold culminated in a storm that weather forecaster called a “bombogenesis.” A weather bomb? What’s that, you ask? It’s what we used to call a “Nor’easter.” But apparently that plain vanilla term just won’t do anymore. We need a word that is more exciting, thrilling and super scary. Plus, it gives us the possibility of blaming something else on ISIS.

Anecdotal science. Trump seized upon that bitter cold to raise doubts about global warming. What an idiot! Doesn’t he know that one or two meteorological events don’t tell us anything meaningful about something as complicated as the long-term patterns of Earth’s weather? Although, come to think of it, that’s what we all did last fall, claiming the spate of hurricanes were proof of climate change. OK. Hypocrisy noted.

Rich and poor. On New Year’s Day, Marty Walsh was sworn in to his second term as mayor and took the opportunity to advocate for making Boston a place where middle-class folks could live. Good luck with that. Last year, 5,000 new homes were built in the city — 1,000 of which are restricted to those with lower incomes. The rest? All luxury housing. So where exactly are these middle-class families supposed to live? Answer: Quincy.

Last ditch effort. Paul Manafort sued Robert Mueller and the Justice Department, saying their indictment of him “had no connection whatsoever to the 2016 presidential election or even to Donald Trump.” True enough. But they do give Mueller an opportunity to squeeze Manafort for information on Trump – and if the lawsuit doesn’t succeed (and it probably doesn’t) they’ll be able to squeeze even harder.

Feds rule, potheads drool. And finally, Attorney general Jeff Sessions is ending Obama’s hands-off marijuana policy, meaning it’ll now be up to locals to decide whether to allow legalized weed to flourish. Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, seems no fan of pot. So you know that cannabis café you were hoping would pop up just down the street? Don’t count on it.

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Tom Keane Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Tom Keane is a Boston-based writer.

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