Russia

In summing up his trip abroad, Donald Trump told a captive audience of American military personnel in Sicily, “I think we hit a home run no matter where we are”. In short, he was Queen Victoria playing fantasy sports, while losing track of his tenses.

Seriously, it is hard to think what his successes were. He crowed about a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. But how hard is it to organize a sale between a willing seller and an eager buyer? There wasn’t even a concomitant commitment by the Saudis to change their terrorist-supporting ways or reduce their aggression in Yemen.

In Israel, there was no progress – even symbolic – in the peace process. In the Vatican, the Pope looked as if he stepped in something. And despite the fallacious “money is beginning to pour in” claim Trump floated at the NATO prom in Belgium, the best he got was a pinky promise that the laggards would do their best to increase defense spending.

At the G7 meeting, Trump reverted to his showman roots – neither supporting nor rejecting the Paris climate change accords. Rather promising – reality show fashion – to reveal his decision on next week’s episode.

Back home, Trump will once again oversell his achievements – thrilling his base – but confirming that his deeds are a pale reflection of his words.

Whatever. His trip will be forgotten by Monday morning. The Sunday shows will focus on all things Russian. Especially after the revelation that the golden boy, son-in-law Jared Kushner, had requested back channels to the Kremlin through the Russian Embassy. And Trump – after nine days of Twitter discipline – is primed to explode.

The White House has floated the idea that a legal team would vet Trump’s tweets pre-transmission. Good luck with that. It’s hard to imagine a bathrobe-clad Trump, sitting on his sofa in the wee hours with a lawyer, watching Fox. You can’t put big baby in a corner.

Trump may want to talk about his trip. Or pivot to tax reform and healthcare. But his wishes will be as smoke. The public is entranced by the ill-deeds, prevarications, bald-faced lies and ever-shifting rationales of an administration spiraling out of control. And the media knows on which side its bread is buttered. It will be Russia, Russia, Russia, with a side salad of Watergate.

The curtain has fallen on the first act. The dramatis personae have been introduced and examined. And the dramatic narrative established. Now the second act begins. Investigators will start to uncover some truths. Congressional hearings will feature preening politicians throwing shade and offering cover. And the Washington Post and New York Times will do what they have done before – and cable news works still cannot do – and get insiders to spill the beans.

And by the end of the week, Trump’s trip will be as if it never happened.

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