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The Week That Was: Shutdowns, Speeches And Senselessness

President Donald Trump meets with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the World Economic Forum, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, in Davos. (Evan Vucci/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
President Donald Trump meets with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the World Economic Forum, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, in Davos. (Evan Vucci/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. 26, 2018.


It was the week when the Democrats forced the government to shut down and then caved because, as it turns out, they’re actually the ones who like government.

The power of prayer. The president asked the entire world to pray for Sophia Campa-Peters, a Texas girl having brain surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. Hmmm. Maybe it would be better if they prayed the poor girl has health insurance so she can actually afford the procedure. In any event, I’m thinking the call to prayer isn’t going to help much. I know an awful lot of folks who have been praying for a year that Trump be impeached and, darn it, he’s still here. (And no disrespect to Sophia — if we’re going to get the entire world praying about something, how about focusing our efforts on North Korea’s nuclear program?)

Our man in Europe. Trump flew to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum where the topic is “Creating a Shared Future in Fractured World.” Wait a second? This is President “America First.” Shouldn’t the topic be renamed “Creating a Fractured World from a Shared Future”?  In any event, it’s yet another opportunity for the president to hobnob with world leaders. I’m betting they’ll dislike him just as much as they did at the last year’s summits for NATO, the G7 and the G20.

Silver lining. Trump’s Davos trip comes amid a new survey showing the United States has slipped in U.S. News’ “Best Countries” ranking, largely because of Trump’s erratic policies. We’re now eighth. First on the list is the place the president is visiting: Switzerland. Others ahead of the U.S. include Canada, Germany, the UK, Japan, Sweden and Australia. You may think our fall concerning, but look at it this way: Trump may be single-handedly solving the illegal immigration problem. There are so many better places folks might want to live.

Tree falls in the woods. No one around. No one noticed when Washington shut down last Saturday and Sunday. It seemed the only ones inconvenienced were bureaucrats who had to clear out their lunches from offices refrigerators. The rest of us just lived life as we normally do. Why? Because people don’t work on weekends anyway. So, could we do this every week and save 2/7ths of the national budget?

On the other hand, we are watching Netflix. The Oscar nominations were announced this week. It turns out few of us have actually seen the nominees for Best Picture: none are among the top 10 grossing films of 2017. I guess that means we – the general movie-going public – don’t understand art. Or maybe Hollywood just doesn’t make art we like to see.

Loopholes. An evangelist said Trump gets a “mulligan” on his affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. Really? God gives cheating men mulligans? That’s great. Here’s the problem: Significant others usually don’t.

GOP? What’s that? Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker gave his annual speech on the State of the Commonwealth address this week. In more than 3500 words, he somehow forgot to mention he was a Republican.

The anti-Trump. In his speech, Baker celebrated “bipartisan” virtues, talked about working closely with his “legislative colleagues” and “colleagues in local government,” extolled the value of fixing stuff and making government work and argued for “common decency in our debate and in our dealings with one another and the public.” Poor Baker – his future seems so limited. Doesn’t he know that politicians on the move need to attack their enemies, find wedge issues, and kill or be killed?

New clothes. The Zoots dry-cleaning chain suddenly closed, leaving folks unable to get access to clothing they had dropped off. People still dry clean? Haven’t they heard of permanent press? This is like the shuttering of the last typewriter repair shop. Sure, an era is passing. But honestly, you should just be using a word processor.

Dumb and dumber. Wentworth College felt compelled to warn its students not to participate in the “Tide pod challenge.” Why? Because eating Tide pods will kill you. This latest social media fad raises the obvious question: Is there any stupid thing that teens and college students won’t do? How about the swallow-the-4x8 challenge? The doused-with-gasoline-and-light-a-match challenge? Oh no. By merely mentioning these, I fear I may have started something.

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

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