1. It’s Tuesday, July 17, 2018.

2. It’s the 64th birthday of Dr. Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany.

It’s between her and Oprah Winfrey – and maybe Denzel Washington – as to who is the most prestigious member of the Birth Class of 1954.

I do have a special interest in that class!

3. Few people under age 50 remember Norm Crosby.

Crosby – no known relation to Bing – was a Borscht Belt comedian who frequented the talk shows and game shows of the pre-cable TV era. His schtick was malaprops – he would make statements peppered with words whose meaning is confused with other words.

Writing it out won’t help you. Here’s a clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnX-EPaAIdU

Of course, Crosby is – he’s 90 years old and was performing a few years ago – a wizard at this sort of comedy.

Donald Trump isn’t.

The reason I thought of Norm Crosby today is, of course, Trump’s inevitable attempt to ameliorate (yes, I look some words up to make sure I don’t pull a Norm Crosby with them) yesterday’s debacle in Helsinki. When, in essence, Trump betrayed his country by indicating he accepted Vladimir Putin’s denial of interfering with the 2016 election over U.S. law enforcement and intelligence screaming he did.

The blowback from that news conference was so intense that even Republicans criticized him. OK, maybe they lacked a certain force. House Speaker Paul Ryan, still devoid of moral backbone, didn’t mention Trump by name.

But, yeah, what he said wasn’t good, some Republicans whispered, trying to get out of the way of the media folks who had to tell the truth about the disgrace before their eyes.

Anyway, Trump apparently was shocked that people weren’t showering him with rose petals as the still-just-blue-and-white Air Force One deposited him at Andrews Air Force Base.

So today, before meeting with Congressional leaders, Trump tried to walk some of it back.

One of the many egregious statements came after he said that his intelligence people had told him Russia interfered with the election and Putin strongly denied it. At the time, he said “I don’t know why it would be Russia.”

Well today, he said, oh no, he got the double negative confused. He meant to say “I don’t know why it wouldn’t be Russia.”

Trump also tried to say that he believed his intelligence people. But he couldn’t help himself – he ended up saying ““I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could have been other people also. Lots of other people out there.”

4. There’s two ways of looking at this.

One is that he could have gone the full Norm Crosby by pointing out 20 other times he misspoke.

The whole thing with the DNC servers could have been chalked up as a big malaprop. It’s certainly not all that understandable – unless there’s some Fox News decoder ring I’m not using.

The other way is this: I’ve lived through presidents I’ve loved and presidents I haven’t.

And all of them – until now – understood that the words used by the President of the United States mean something. That what he – and, someday soon, she – says reflects on the nation and gives pause to the world.

A misused word is about as lame an excuse for what happened yesterday as saying Trump was distracted by a fly in the room.

Trump couldn’t stand in the same room with Putin without showing the Russian dictator obeisance. And now he’s trying to turn the last word of the previous sentence into “obesity” in order to obscure or slough off what he did.

It works for Norm Crosby. It sure as hell shouldn’t for Trump.



1. It’s Tuesday, July 14, 2015.

2. It’s Bastille Day in France. You would think this is France’s biggest holiday — it’s the one everyone knows, liberté, égalité, fraternité and all that. But the freakin’ stock market is open. And it’s down today, presumably because grumpy French men and women have to work on what’s supposed to be Bastille Day.

3. Overcoming my skepticism, last night’s All-Star Game Home Run Derby was pretty riveting.

The new timed format did a lot to help. The fact that someone from the host team (Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier) won probably didn’t hurt.

Two minor changes they need to make: a) lengthen the distance to qualify for the 30-second bonus, because everybody hit at least two 425-foot shots, and b) figure out a way to lessen the advantage of the guy going second in the head-to-head. Other than the Pujols-Pedersen semifinal, the guy who went second won every time.

4. So President Obama went and struck a nuclear limitation deal with Iran. He knew it would piss off the Republicans. He knew it would piss off Benjamin Netanyahu.

But he did it anyway, because he knew what most of us know — no sane person wants a war with Iran. And that, I’m afraid, is the other option to this agreement.

The Iranians aren’t going to just capitulate if we keep ratcheting up the sanctions. And those less committed to stopping Iran than we are — Russia, China and several of the European Union members — aren’t going to hang with us forever as we seek the perfect deal.

There are morons in Congress — Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas comes first to mind — who believe we can win a war with Iran to get our way. But what is victory in this? Is it another damn invasion of a country whose leaders we don’t like? We saw how that worked in Iraq, which was a piece of cake next to what it would take to topple the Islamic Republic. We’re still cleaning up the mess (and, by the way, sort of need Iran’s help to do it, because they’re not big fans of ISIS, either).

So this agreement, with all its flaws, is the best we can do right now. It’s a testament to the patience of the president, of Secretary of State John Kerry and to the whole American team that they got it. There’s a sense that the world will be just a little safer for the next 15 years, as it becomes just a little harder for Iran to get a nuclear weapon.

And if another American president who’s only half or more as smart as Barack Obama takes office in 2017, and the Iranians reach into their Islamic roots for a way to coexist with others, there’s a chance that the deal could lead to something else.

We can only hope.