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AMEND CORNER: Ready or not, I’m back

If you have been in the habit of reading The Amend Corner over the last dozen or so years, you probably have noticed that it has been absent for the past month.

I suppose some of you have missed it, although I can’t be sure. Nobody has inquired into why it has been absent except for CJ, the Tribune’s editor, and it was only last week that he raised the question of when he could expect another visit to this corner.

Well, this issue marks its return, which, depending on what you think of my observations and opinions, may be greeted by applause, sighs of reliefs or a chorus of Bronx cheers.

As for why I decided to skip producing this column for the entire month of July, I can only say that it just sort of happened. I do, however, have a good reason — in fact, the best reason I could possibly have: Grandchildren.

For two solid weeks, we had all four of our grandchildren together, something that last happened two years ago. Despite that long interval between visits, they spent no time getting reacquainted, but began playing as if they had parted just yesterday, not two years ago.

So, for two weeks, our house was noisier than it usually is, but we didn’t complain at all, since hearing happy children playing together is one of the nicest sounds there is. We played and observed games of croquet and miniature golf and were spectators as they pursued each other in a game that seemed to require the space of an entire city park. Numerous road trips to Cody and beyond helped us see Yellowstone with fresh, pre-teen eyes and we watched as a wild stallion and his harem passed by at Bighorn Canyon. Even when all four of them all retreated to another part of the house to play, their happy squeals and giggles let us in on their youthful cheer.

As a bonus, we had two weeks to enjoy a visit from our daughter and more than a month to catch up with our son and his wife.

Well, it’s now coming to an end. The Minnesota duo left us last week, and soon the other two will be winging their way back across the Atlantic to west Africa. I will be left with nice memories, a lot of pictures to process and guilty feelings for eating too much pizza during their visit.

So now it’s back to my usual activities, which include observing history being made, something I have mostly neglected during July. Now, I have to catch up so I have material for this column.

Catching up, however, may take a while, if only to sort through our nation’s misadventures on the political front. We have a presidential administration that can’t seem to get out of its own way as it stumbles its way from controversy to controversy. This is not an entirely new situation. Most newly elected presidents make mistakes in the early going, which is probably unavoidable given the astounding complexity of presidential duties and the divisions among those of us who are the governed.

This president, though, seems to be intent on turning political bumbling into an art form. He is on track to set a record for missteps, making so many of them that some haven’t even drawn much attention from the press.

The reasons for this situation are obvious: President Donald Trump just doesn’t understand what the president is supposed to do or how he’s supposed to act.

Consider, for example, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He was one of the first members of Congress to support Trump in the primaries, and was rewarded with his Cabinet position. But when questions about contacts between members of Trump’s campaign and his staff and Russia arose, Sessions recused himself from any participation in investigations into the matter. According to the law, he was required to do that. Now, though, Trump has been criticizing him and hinting that he would like to fire him. I think Sessions was a terrible choice for attorney general, but Trump is handling the situation unethically. Moreover, Sessions is popular with members of the Senate, so if Trump continues denigrating him, it will likely drive a wedge between the president and Senate Republicans, costing him their support of his legislative proposals.

The situation apparently has affected other members of the administration as well.  Recent reports, for example, say Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is unhappy and may resign in a few months. His appointment to the Cabinet was a bit of a mystery, since he has no background in foreign policy, and apparently he doesn’t like the job, which makes his thoughts of resigning understandable. His acceptance of a job he didn’t know how to do and doesn’t like, though, is another mystery.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to tell people that he is the most successful president since Abraham Lincoln, has signed more bills during his first six months in office than all but three presidents, and hundreds of other fairy tales that have no basis in reality.

It’s all very discouraging when I think about what the mess in Washington will cost us. That’s why didn’t think about it for a month, and fortunately, my grandkids were here to help.

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