The national roller coaster ride, Extreme Sports version, of the last week has left much of the land veritably breathless.
A week ago, the country was still in the throes of a month-long federal government shutdown. From the standpoint of this observer, things began to break when Virginia’s two U.S. Senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, convened a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 24, with the heads of major unions of airline industry workers, from air traffic controllers to mechanics, flight attendants and air safety professionals, in the old main terminal building at Reagan National Airport, spitting distance from the nation’s capital.
There, all the professionals decried to the large phalanx of media organizations the threat to public safety that an ongoing continuation of the shutdown represented. I was there to witness and report on the anguish in the voices of those leaders.
It was a few hours later, according to the accounts from insiders reported to the New York Times and Washington Post, that Trump first began to waver on the shutdown, and tasked his advisers, including son-in-law Jared Kushner, to come up with exit options.
The next morning, when news outlets began to report that official announcements had been made that airline service from three busy east coast airports were, in fact, being curtailed for safety reasons owing to manpower shortages from the shutdown, Trump then caved, according to the same insider news reports.
No, it was not solely that House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi derived more supernatural powers from watching her hometown NBA champion basketball team, the Golden State Warriors, win confidently against the Washington Wizards last Thursday. I was glad I got to bark a cheer of support to her as she loaded up a hot dog with mustard at the 400 upper deck level of that game. She didn’t fail to answer me back with a big smile. She was just as eminently in command and under control handling that hot dog as she had been handling Trump.
Still, Virginia’s U.S. Senators deserve credit for convening the press conference that provided an opportunity for professionals in the airline industry to call attention to the fact that “America is less safe today” because of Trump’s ego tantrum known as the shutdown.
Despite his bluster in a Rose Garden concession speech Friday afternoon, Trump had been handed an epochal defeat, striking right at the core of his faux “strengths” as a tough-guy negotiator.
He got nothing – nada – thanks to Pelosi’s firm leadership holding her party ranks together in refusing to concede an inch on Trump’s pet southwest border wall folly, and the tireless efforts of Kaine, Warner and Northern Virginia lawmakers like Rep. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly and the new Democratic congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, to speak out for the thousands of furloughed federal workers in their districts. Now, the cost of the shutdown is being measured in billions of dollars lost to the U.S. economy, much of which is irretrievable.
Then Friday, Trump confidant Roger Stone was arrested by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller on a plethora of charges of Russia collusion-related crimes, compounding Trump’s woes as he clearly felt Mueller’s hot breath intensifying on his neck.
Coincidentally, as the week progressed, on Sunday a major contender for the Democratic nomination for president held a spectacular rally in Oakland, Cal. California’s former attorney general and current U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris kicked off her campaign with a powerful campaign speech before thousands of cheering supporters.
She followed that up with an equally impressive “town hall” in Iowa aired on CNN Monday night, evoking memories of President and Mrs. Obama, brimming with confidence and a sense of command.
Then, behold, on the sourest of sour notes, came two white males to the rescue of Trump. His acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, stated the Mueller investigation is almost over, and the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, announced he’s considering a 2020 run for president as an independent in a manner to split the Democratic vote against Trump.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected]