If Washington politics were a movie, this week might be the time you turn to your companion and say, "Who writes this stuff?":
A President and "world-class deal maker," marveled Frida Ghitis, who demonstrates with a "temper tantrum," that he can't make deals. Who storms out of meetings with congressional leaders while insisting he's calm (and lines up his top aides to confirm it for the cameras). Who says, "I don't do cover-ups," with his administration on information lockdown -- offering justifications "that wouldn't pass muster in an episode of 'The Simpsons,'" remarked Julian Zelizer.
And who launches into a tirade -- in the middle of an event about aid to farmers -- to say I'm not crazy, she's crazy.
"She" being House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who offered Trump her thoughts and prayers, and wished aloud that someone would get him an intervention. There was no need, I'm an "extremely stable genius," Trump told reporters, adding that he'll talk to Democrats when they stop investigating him. He's right, suggested Marc Thiessen in the Washington Post: "Nancy Pelosi can't accuse him of engaging in a coverup in the morning and expect him to negotiate with her on a $2 trillion infrastructure package in the afternoon."
By week's end, Trump and supporters were previewing what critics believed his re-election campaign would look like. He retweeted a Fox News video mashup manipulated to falsely make Pelosi appear to slur her speech. "It's pathetic," protested SE Cupp, adding "childish" and "impotent." "But it's disgusting and disturbing to watch the president and leader of the free world do it time and time again."
The war of words began Wednesday, said Ghitis. Trump was "hurt because earlier in the day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, 'We believe the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.'"
Nia-Malika Henderson explained: "In Pelosi, Trump has something he has never had. A person -- a woman, at that -- who challenges, frustrates and frequently doles out plenty of strategic shade." Pelosi "reminds him that his power isn't limitless. With every briefing and White House meeting, she flexes her own considerable power."
But not toward impeachment, complained Zelizer --and that's a big mistake. Pelosi and her allies are trying to protect "their partisan prospects in 2020" rather than ensure that "our constitutional checks and balances are working to restrain Trump right now," he said.
Graduates were tossing mortarboards last week and rushing to meet their futures. But it's hard to imagine a more joyous nudge than the one Robert F. Smith, a billionaire philanthropist, gave to Morehouse College's class of 2019. He said he'd pay off their student loans. "Incredible generosity," wrote Issac Bailey, but "a lone billionaire -- or a gaggle of billionaires -- will never be enough to solve our growing student loan debt crisis."
As LZ Granderson watched his son graduate -- debt free -- from New York University last week, he reflected that "the hardest decision I ever made as a father was leaving the city where my then-5-year-old son lived with his mother (my ex-wife) so I could take a better-paying job. I did so with one singular goal in mind: to be in a better position to pay for his college tuition." His happiness at his son's achievement was wound up with a certain regret: "Presence over presents," he pondered. "Was I second-guessing the strategy with which I accomplished my mission?"
Elbie Seibert, 2019 valedictorian at Columbia High School in Nampa, Idaho, lost his father to cancer a week before graduation. He wrote his commencement speech anyway: "My body aches from missing him so much," Seibert said. "I can feel him in my bones, hear him in my dreams, see him in my shadows -- and I find some small comfort in all of that." The last year brought many lessons, he said, among them, "never take anyone or anything for granted."
For Evan Mandery, this weekend marks his 30th Harvard reunion. He's boycotting it over legacy admissions, which favor the already-privileged and furthers inequality, he wrote. "The influence of money is sanitized in the admissions process through the concept of legacy."