Reprinted with permission from Creators.
WASHINGTON — June 14. Mark it down as the day Donald Trump’s outlandish presidency became too much to bear.
First, violence broke out against lawmakers at a rare moment of play, preparing for a pleasant bipartisan ritual.
That completely cut the heart of our company town — including the police, press and pages who work under the Capitol Dome.
At the end of the day, we heard The Washington Post’s earthshaking scoop: Trump is under investigation for obstruction of justice.
But there was no joy in Mudville, or Washington, even for those who saw big trouble coming. Universally, we were grief-stricken and gobsmacked at the turn of events for Congress and the rocky Trump White House — not even five-months-old.
Whaaat? Yes, Robert S. Mueller III, the new special counsel investigating Russian collusion with Trump and his associates, is looking straight at the president, The Post reports.
The Ivy-educated Mueller is a smart, austere straight arrow respected by all — which is why Trump wants to get rid of him, but (probably) won’t dare. Are the republic’s walls unraveling after the 2016 election’s deeply divided verdict?
To go back to the beginning. On a sun-dappled morning, murderous mayhem took over a baseball diamond at a Republican congressional team practice — across the river in Alexandria, Virginia.
The tranquil field is a stone’s throw away from where my Washington editor lives. Lurking near the fence was an unkempt white man in his 60s, angry and armed.
Meanwhile, the Republican baseball team members were up early, serious about winning the traditional June Congressional Baseball Game, against a team of determined Democrats.
The game was set for the next day, at the Washington Nationals ballpark. Heck, what’s more American than that?
The game meant good clean fun, raising money for charity, and also enjoying a different side to political opponents. In competing in the annual contest, several say, they made friends from the other side of the aisle they never would have otherwise. Such encounters can make a difference to debates and outcomes on the floor.
In an age of heightened partisanship, especially in the boisterous House, we need more events where members shed their usual skins and suits.
Not so long ago, members brought their families to live in Washington, so there was more socializing among them. (Now they skip town every Friday.) Simply put, they knew each other better. They liked each other more. They hated each other less in a jovial, collegial culture.
Now House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., is in critical condition, fighting for his life. He is 51. Four are wounded, including two Capitol Police officers and a young staffer for Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas. Those that could went to the Capitol in their baseball uniforms to tell the tale, still in a state of shock.
The anguish across party lines in the “People’s House” silenced the rabble. At noon, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made heartfelt statements about the House as one family, which brought standing ovations. The spirit in the chamber was precious enough to be bottled.
In a show of resolve, players said the game would go on anyway. Whether gun violence hitting close to home will change the tone under the Dome? Let’s live in hope.
Ironically, another light-hearted June tradition, “Will on the Hill,” took place two days before at the Shakespeare Theatre. The British ambassador, Kim Darroch, lent his voice to the send-up of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” featuring a cast of Washington power players in colorful costume. The crowd-pleasing line was, “Lord, what fools these mortals be.”
Or was it “Lordy,” the word fired FBI Director James Comey famously spoke at a Senate hearing?
Firing Comey over the Russian investigation was the worst thing Trump could have done to himself. Comey and Mueller, each former FBI directors, see the world the same way. By improperly pressing Comey to know if he was being investigated, Trump set himself up to be investigated.
When I moved to Washington, a District police officer said, “Welcome to the insanity.”
I thought he was just kidding.
To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.