This has been quite a chaotic week in Washington, but there is a silver lining. Despite a president who remains unfit for the office in every way and shows no sign of maturing, our system of government still works. The checks and balances are in good order despite the dysfunction in the White House. This remains a resilient democracy that is demonstrating that even under stress it cannot be broken by a failing, flailing presidency.
Consider what happened just this week:
• Thanks to the courage and independence of Arizona Sen. John McCain and two other Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another desperate attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act was defeated by one vote early Friday in the Senate. It was a reckless move by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to try to pass a ridiculous, narrow repeal bill just to force negotiations with the House. President Donald Trump tweeted his displeasure shortly after 2 a.m., but perhaps finally there can be a bipartisan effort to improve access to affordable care rather than strip away coverage from millions of Americans.
• Trump abruptly tweeted that transgender troops would be banned from serving in the U.S. military, catching the Pentagon by surprise and contradicting his secretary of defense, who had told top officers to spend another few months weighing the issue. This would reverse years of more inclusive policies toward serving in the military, and it callously threw into limbo several thousand transgender troops who are serving now. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not move to kick anyone out of the military in response to Trump's tweets. He responsibly is awaiting more formal direction on an irresponsible policy change.
• After Senate investigators questioned the president's son-in-law as part of the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the election, the Senate overwhelmingly approved new financial sanctions on Russia and North Korea. It bars Trump from easing or ending the sanctions unless Congress agrees.
• Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of Trump's early supporters, refused to resign despite Trump's efforts to goad him into quitting by publicly embarrassing him. The president is furious that Sessions appropriately recused himself from the Russia investigation, and he apparently wants to replace him with an attorney general who would fire the special counsel. Republican senators made it clear they would oppose such interference.
• A Boy Scouts official apologized for Trump's rambling, inappropriate speech to 40,000 Scouts. The president's new communications director went on a profane rant, and Trump forced out his chief of staff Friday. Russia cut the number of U.S. Embassy employees there, and North Korea fired a missile that landed within 230 miles of Japan.
Amid all of these threats domestic and foreign, America's democracy continues to survive. But thank goodness for the weekend — and let's hope for one with as few Trump tweets as possible.