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The Week That Was: Curses, Crises And Coughs

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., flanked by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., left, and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks to reporters about efforts to avoid a government shutdown this weekend, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., flanked by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., left, and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks to reporters about efforts to avoid a government shutdown this weekend, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (J. Scott Applewhite/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. 19, 2018.


It was the week when Year One of the Trump presidency came to a close, and as Year Two began, we all thought, “Omigod, I’m not sure I can take any more of this!”

*&%!@. The sh*tstorm over Trump’s use of “sh*thole” (or was it “sh*thouse”) continued. Even those who denied, or just didn’t remember, the president’s specific words agreed there was “tough” language at last week’s meeting on immigration. “Tough,” in this case, is a euphemism for f-bombs, s-bombs and a whole lot of other four-letter words. It makes you long for a man like Mitt Romney. When it comes to language, the former Bay State governor and 2012 presidential nominee is a man of exceptional rectitude. “H-E-double hockey sticks” is about as far as he’ll go. Who knows. If Mitt was in the Oval Office maybe the policy positions would be the same, the compromises just as difficult to reach. But at least we could let our kids once again watch the news.

Look to the side and cough. The president’s doctor reported this week that Trump is overweight, doesn’t exercise and eats badly. So, except for being a billionaire, he’s just like the rest of us!

Brain games. As part of the president’s physical exam, his physician also administered a cognitive test. Those who can’t fathom Trump’s bizarre behaviors were hoping to learn that they were caused by dementia or a similar physical disorder. Nope. In fact, his brain is perfectly fine. That’s even scarier. The chaos, the inattention, the unpredictability: It’s all intentional.

Olympic harmony. Even as Hawaiians continued to reel from the trauma of a possible missile strike — a false alarm, as it turned out — the prospects of nuclear confrontation diminished. Why? Because the North Koreans are going to the Winter Olympics. They’re even going to march with the South Koreans! The international event seems to be having its intended salubrious effect: Promoting cooperation and goodwill among nations. Hawaiians and the rest of the United States can breathe a bit easier. That is, unless the North Koreans lose.

Children sit next to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games' official mascots, near Seoul Plaza Ice Rink in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. South Korea on Tuesday offered high-level talks with rival North Korea to find ways to cooperate on next month's Winter Olympics in the South. (Ahn Young-joon/AP)
Children sit next to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games' official mascots, near Seoul Plaza Ice Rink in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. South Korea on Tuesday offered high-level talks with rival North Korea to find ways to cooperate on next month's Winter Olympics in the South. (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

At least the caddy is happy. The president spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day golfing at his Mar-a-Lago resort. That prompted a raft of criticism. Why can’t he go shopping like the rest of us?

Furlough time. The impending crisis of the week was the possibility of a government shutdown. These kinds of threats happen pretty regularly. For a long time, the GOP was the culprit. This time, it’s less clear who will get the blame: maybe the Democrats, maybe the president. The political risk is high. The last actual shutdown was in 2013 and polls at the time showed it was wildly unpopular with voters, who just didn't think it was a good way to negotiate. It isn’t. If a shutdown happens and Democrats get the blame – and I think they will — the party may well be waving goodbye to its November electoral prospects.

Stool pigeon. Steve Bannon refused to answer questions posed to him by the House Intelligence Committee. So, he’ll talk his mouth off to an author but he won’t say a word when under subpoena? Yes — and apparently he kept quiet simply because the White House asked him to. Someone, somewhere, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue must be thinking: If only we’d asked a year ago.

Amazon obsessed. Boston was thrilled when General Electric named the city its new corporate headquarters. Now the conglomerate looks like it’s falling apart. It’s an important lesson. Businesses rise and fall. Good economic policy encourages all business, without playing favorites. That observation should in turn raise doubts about Boston’s newest infatuation: Being named Amazon’s second headquarters, dubbed HQ2. Yes, we’ve just been shortlisted. And yes, Amazon seems a powerhouse. Ten years from now? It could be gone. Just ask AOL, AltaVista, Netscape, Myspace, Napster, Pets.com, Yahoo ….

Patsies for the Pats? And finally, after watching the arrogant and overconfident Pittsburgh Steelers lose on Sunday, New Englanders spent the week talking about how strong the Jacksonville Jaguars are, how they’re the toughest team the Patriots will ever face, how motivated they are, and … ah, who are we kidding?

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

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