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 Dec. 8, 2017.
It was the week when Republicans won on policy and Democrats lost on members.
“Please Mr. President, it’s too much winning! We can’t take it anymore!” Donald Trump had a series of big victories, perhaps the most in the 46 weeks of his still-nascent presidency. The Supreme Court upheld his travel ban. He fulfilled a campaign promise, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And the tax reform bill — having passed the House and Senate — was in committee and soon to be on his desk. So what could go wrong? Oh yeah. Bob Mueller. Or maybe a government shutdown.
He may be deviant, but he’s our deviant. After weeks of demanding Roy Moore exit the race to be Alabama’s next U.S. senator, GOP leaders switched course. “I'm going to let the people of Alabama make the call,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday. That was followed by Trump giving Moore a full-throated endorsement, which in turn was followed by the Republican National Committee restoring funding to the Alabamian’s campaign. Why the reversal? Did Republicans suddenly conclude that Moore wasn’t a pedophile, that his accusers were lying? Nope. Rather, they realized that a win by Democrat Doug Jones would imperil their control of the Senate. The lesson: In the contest between power and perversion, power wins.
Self-immolation. Meanwhile, sexual harassment scandals continue apace, largely claiming Democrats and progressives. There have been exceptions, such as the Fox News purge several months ago. But most of those fallen come from the left, including — just this week — Sen. Al Franken, civil rights icon Rep. John Conyers and the Bay State’s own Stan Rosenberg. Don’t conservatives harass too? Maybe. But if they do, few are talking. And in the rare cases that come up — e.g. Roy Moore and Donald Trump — the accused just tough it out. Perhaps the difference between the left and the right is that liberals are embarrassed, while conservatives just don’t care.
What Weinstein wrought. People have been questioning whether the #MeToo movement is just a temporary phenomenon — a meme — or a sign that something fundamental is occurring: A permanent shift in attitudes and behaviors. Then along came Time magazine, naming “The Silence Breakers” as the “Person (sic) of the Year.” Given Time’s cultural relevance — which is to say, not much — we now have the answer to that question: It’s just a meme.
Get ready to get sick. Experts are saying that this year’s flu vaccine is only 10 percent effective — which essentially means it’s not effective at all — but still urge everyone to get the shot. Really? If I’m going to take a placebo, I’ll take one that doesn’t leave me with a sore arm. Hello Airborne!
Political doping. The International Olympic Committee banned Russia from participating in next year’s Winter Olympics. No one has banned Russia from participating in next year’s U.S. elections, however.
Your government in action. Or maybe that’s, inaction. In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas last October, the House of Representatives passed its first piece of gun legislation, mandating new controls on firearms … oh, no wait. Actually, the legislation allows folks to carry concealed handguns even in states that ban them. Really? The solution to Las Vegas is to have everyone packing heat? This is like Smokey the Bear fighting forest fires by handing out matches.
Better watch out. It’s Christmas shopping season and so it’s time for Boston-based WATCH’s annual list of “10 Worst Toys.” (WATCH, by the way, stands for “World Against Toys Causing Harm.”) Among the 10 worst are a drone and a Nerf crossbow. The drone is dangerous because its propeller spins and arrows from the crossbow could hit someone. Not for nothing, but aren’t these features kind of essential to the toys’ purpose? If you get a drone or a crossbow for your kid, wouldn’t it kind of ruin Christmas morning if the drone didn’t fly and the crossbow didn’t shoot?
Ms-take. And finally, the Massachusetts Conference for Women this week gave keynote speaker Bethenny Frankel a hero’s welcome. Frankel is founder of Skinnygirl, which (among other things) sells low-calorie cocktails pitched at women. Great. A company with a patronizing (“girl”), fat shaming name promoting stepped-up drinking. If this is what counts as a role model, feminism has a long way to go.