Another crisis lies behind us. The New York Times had reported that Donald Trump was, all by himself, plotting to destroy the Special Relationship with Britain, and The Washington Post reported unidentified troop movements near Yorktown, believed to be remnants of the British army surrendered by Gen. Cornwallis, marching on the capital to avenge Mr. Trump’s various insults in London.
But the president apparently used all the right forks at the dinner, he didn’t drool on his tie, and he seemed to get along swimmingly with Queen Elizabeth II at the elegant state dinner at Buckingham Palace. An occasional royal smile widened into a grin (perhaps at one of the president’s jokes), he made no attempt to grab anything, and the Special Relationship survived intact. “But it was a close-run thing,” the Duke of Wellington told CNN News. The trip was a success.
It was hard to tell which news is fake, and which is real, but if the news is about the president it doesn’t matter. A lot of it is made up in the mainstream press, anyway, where respect for “just the facts, ma’am” is for sissies. The president himself was last seen Thursday in France, where he gave a moving speech commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in World War II. All in all, the president’s trip, despite his trading of insults with the mayor of London, his ungallant description of Meghan Markle, the dorky duchess of Sussex, as “nasty,” was forgotten, despite all that unpleasant elements in Britain could do to ruin it. Dozens of pundits, politicians and other notabilities had competed, as in the United States, to see who could say the meanest things about the Donald. They proved only that originality is dead, too.
At the end of three days, he escaped to the continent virtually unscathed, though the scathing continued elsewhere. The president had even exchanged pleasantries with Prime Minister Theresa May, and most of the pleasantries were, on the whole, pleasant.
The news elsewhere, some of it fake and some of it not, was bad, a mishmash of the weird, the eerie, the spectral and the usual. A woman in Oklahoma stabbed herself in the stomach three times, though apparently not skillfully, because she survived to tell the investigating coppers, “I’m tired of living in Trump’s country. I’m tired of Trump being president.” This might have happened at almost any Washington dinner party, but so far hasn’t, for which we are all grateful.
Crazed citizens all over have been driven to the cusp of insanity by the presence of the Donald in their lives, even at a far remove. A substitute teacher at a junior high school in Connecticut turned acrobatic cartwheels in front of the class, and sharp-eyed boys noticed that in her upward swing her long skirt parted and revealed that she was not, as the chief of police put it, “wearing any type of underwear.” One of the teacher’s pupils captured the crime on his smartphone and gave it to police, where the footage is being closely studied by all hands. She was subsequently charged with indecent exposure. A woman in Florida was so enraged when her chicken sandwich was served at McDonald’s without the promised shredded lettuce, that she demanded a refund and marched into the kitchen in a fit of McChicken Rage to make a sandwich herself.
Insanity is breaking out from coast to coast, it’s not even officially summer, and the dog days of August are still two months distant. Nancy Pelosi continued airing her differences with Rep. Gerald Nadler of New York, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who has been collecting rope for a hanging and, deferring to legal tradition, is willing to give the president a fair trial before stringing him up. Mrs. Pelosi, who had earlier counseled patience, now wants to send him straight to prison without time-consuming formalities.
“I don’t want to see him impeached,” she told a meeting of her chief lieutenants this week, “I want to see him in prison.” She wants to see him defeated at the polls, too, but she may have trouble eating her cake and having it, too. The Supreme Court might have to decide whether a president, having been duly tried, convicted and imprisoned, can campaign for president from a prison cell. Mrs. Pelosi, ever the kind and compassionate friend of the needy, earlier said the president has been engaged “in a cover-up” and suggested his family could make “an intervention,” though the Constitution, with which Mrs. Pelosi is not necessarily familiar, sets out how such an intervention must be made, and the president’s family would have nothing to do with it. No matter. In times like these, they can fake it.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.