I tried my best, through the first half of this year, to avoid getting caught up in the political emergencies of each day, so as to write about some longer-term developments that I know are more encouraging than current national-level trauma, and that I believe are at least as significant. My wife Deb and I physically absented ourselves from the capital, as described here, which provided some mental and emotional distance as well. Some.
But we’re now back, all in—physically present in D.C. (for now) and emotionally and mentally in the fray. This is a quick report on how the national struggle looks on re-immersion.
One aspect of mid-2017 public life seems unchanged—or rather, unsurprising. Another is more heartening than I might have expected six months ago. But a third is quite depressing, and raises the question of how well our political system can function if even one of its divided-power, checks-and-balances elements is severely impaired. To take them in order:
Unsurprising: This would be Donald Trump himself. The man we have seen in office is a foreseeable extension of the person we saw during his year and a half on the campaign trail. Through that period I did a running chronicle, the Trump Time Capsules, of what the candidate was indicating about characteristics that matter in a president. These include: his level of knowledge and sophistication on policy, his temperamental balance, his process of decision-making, his scrupulousness about truth, and his standards in allies, advisors, confidantes, and enemies.