WASHINGTON ‚ÄĒ Once I would have rolled my eyes at a ‚ÄúHomeland‚ÄĚ season in which the Russians deftly maneuvered to control whether a Democratic woman, an increasingly paranoid former junior senator from New York, would occupy the Oval Office.
Last year, I shook my head at the ‚ÄúBillions‚ÄĚ plotline showing a top New York law enforcement official fighting corruption by day and engaging in sadomasochism by night.
There was a time I would have considered it off the wall if Kanye West said he shared dragon energy with Donald Trump.
Now I don‚Äôt blink. Everything is plausible.
We have crossed into a surreal dimension where we are limited only by our imaginations. The American identity and American values are fungible at the moment. The guardrails are off.
Our brains are so scrambled that it‚Äôs starting to make sense that none of it makes sense.
For example, it‚Äôs dissonant that cybercop Melania strides into the Rose Garden to introduce her ‚ÄúBe Best‚ÄĚ plan to help at-risk children at the same time her cyberbully husband unleashes his cruel Be Worst plot to slash the popular children‚Äôs health benefits program.
But in the Trump era, sure, why not? Everything is plausible.
Consider how the president lavished praise on Gina Haspel, the evidence-destroying torture queen, tweeting, ‚ÄúThere is nobody even close to run the CIA!‚ÄĚ At the same time, White House aide Kelly Sadler shrugged off qualms about Haspel from torture survivor John McCain, blithely noting, ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs dying anyway.‚ÄĚ
White House most foul. Everything is plausible ‚ÄĒ even the jackbooted Dick Cheney rearing his poisonous head to call for the reboot of Torture Inc.
Trump‚Äôs renovation of the Wollman Rink is nothing compared with his breathtaking expansion of the capital swamp. He has ushered in a bold new breed of swamp creatures, from Scott Pruitt to Ryan Zinke to Steve Mnuchin to the incomparable Michael ‚ÄúI‚Äôm Crushing It‚ÄĚ Cohen.
Cohen, who once had to beg Trump to drop by his son‚Äôs bar mitzvah, elbowed into the swamp by pretending he had the president‚Äôs ear. He made up a job selling access to a White House where he could not even get a job.
Holding out a tin cup as the president‚Äôs ‚Äúpersonal attorney,‚ÄĚ he racked up over $2 million from a law firm and corporations, including AT&T, even though it quickly became clear that, while he swanned around like a character out of ‚ÄúThe Sopranos,‚ÄĚ he was not connected.
Incredibly, the two things he did manage to connect were his boss‚Äôs twin b√™tes noires: the saucy porn star and the relentless Russia investigation. Stormy Daniels‚Äôs mongoose of a lawyer, Michael Avenatti, revealed on Twitter that the slush fund Cohen used to pay the adult actress was being funded in part by a Russian oligarch, who was questioned by Robert Mueller‚Äôs team.
Everything is plausible ‚ÄĒ even Rudy Giuliani continuing his punch-drunk performance by referring to Avenatti as a ‚Äúpimp.‚ÄĚ
The rest of the world was shocked by the scoop by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker chronicling Eric Schneiderman‚Äôs depravity. But it may have been old news to the Page Six President.
A lawyer for two women who said they had been victims of Schneiderman‚Äôs sick proclivities told Judge Kimba Wood, who is overseeing a legal dispute about the raids on Cohen‚Äôs office and residences, that he had discussed the women‚Äôs allegations with the Trump fixer. Cohen may have passed on the dirt to Trump, who was then warring with the New York attorney general over Trump University.
In 2013, Trump presciently tweeted: ‚ÄúWeiner is gone, Spitzer is gone ‚ÄĒ next will be lightweight A.G. Eric Schneiderman. Is he a crook? Wait and see, worse than Spitzer or Weiner.‚ÄĚ
Everything is plausible.
Just when you thought the Trump family saga could not get more absurd, The New York Post, the premiere Trump divorce publication, served up an eye-popping tale about Don Jr.‚Äôs soon-to-be ex: Vanessa Trump‚Äôs high school romance on the Lower East Side with a Latin King gang member, Valentin Rivera.
And just when you thought the feuds between the Trump and Clinton camps had run out of juice, former Hillary capo and State Department adviser Philippe Reines weighed in with a jaw-dropping tweet to Don Jr.: ‚ÄúVanessa being with a Latin King must‚Äôve driven you insanely jealous. The machismo, the passion. Tough act to follow. Did you wonder if she fantasized about Valentin Rivera when intimate with you? She did. Every time.‚ÄĚ
Every time, everything is plausible.
Also, the other day a Daily Mail headline screamed, ‚ÄúSteve Bannon Was Target of Bribery Plot by Top Qatari Who Invested in Ice Cube‚Äôs Basketball League to Get to Trump‚Äôs Strategist and Boasted ‚ÄėMike Flynn Took Our Money‚Äô, Rapper Claims in Court.‚ÄĚ
Everything is plausible, even a segue from Ice Cube to Black Cube.
The Observer, another British paper, broke the news that Trump aides hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to run a ‚Äúdirty ops‚ÄĚ campaign against Obama administration officials who had helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, including Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama‚Äôs national security adviser. The firm was Black Cube, the same one hired by Harvey Weinstein to spy on the women he attacked and the reporters working on the story.
Everything is plausible.
Finally, we learned from ‚ÄúJimmy Kimmel Live!‚ÄĚ on Tuesday that Woody Harrelson and Mike Pence were pals in college.
Now, that‚Äôs implausible.