On Russia, Brooklyn and South Bend


In The Wall Street Journal, Dan Henninger discusses, "The White House C-Words - Words unheard from Anthony Scaramucci: credibility, coherence and consistency."

Years from now, anthropologists will struggle to explain how Anthony Scaramucci became a household name. Or how the country's political culture came to obsess over Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

These cultural excavators will try to explain to baffled students that in 2017, during the Age of Twitter, the Trump White House had a seemingly insoluble "communications problem." The anthropologists will describe how after a series of public firings, the president decided that the "Celebrity Apprentice" phase of his presidency was finally over. And that with the appointment of retired four-star Marine Gen. John Kelly as White House chief of staff, President Trump signaled the time had arrived for focused seriousness.

Enough with the August reveries. We are living through a time of cultural evanescence, and there's no reason why that should not include the easy-come, easy-go White House careers of Anthony Scaramucci and the others.

The danger of a pop-culture presidency is that real events, including political land mines, don't get noticed. This week, the Trump presidency had a near-death experience.

It wasn't the health-care failure. That left the Republican Party, not Donald Trump, with one foot in the grave. The noteworthy event for Mr. Trump was the vote in the House and Senate to impose sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea.

The sanctions themselves are notable, but the big story was the extraordinary vote totals. In the House, the sanctions bill passed 419-3 and 98-2 in the Senate.

No other issue in the political firmament would produce such lopsided votes, and the reason for it wasn't Russia. This was a no-confidence vote in a sitting American president. One Republican senator told us privately, "We just don't trust him on Russia." A second senator independently confirmed the vote was a hedge against Mr. Trump's chameleon-like behavior on Vladimir Putin.

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Colin Mixson writing at, Aug. 1:

Some Brooklynites are refusing to vaccinate their pets against virulent and potentially deadly illnesses - some of which could spread to humans - thanks to a growing movement against the life-saving inoculations, according to borough vets

A Clinton Hill-based veterinarian, said she has heard clients suggest the inoculations could give their pups autism, echoing the argument of those who oppose vaccinating kids. But even if pooches were susceptible to the condition, their owners probably wouldn't notice, according to the doctor.

"I had a client concerned about an autistic child who didn't want to vaccinate the dog for the same reason," said Dr. Stephanie Liff of Clinton Hill's Pure Paws Veterinary Care. "We've never diagnosed autism in a dog. I don't think you could."

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The Washington Post reports, "Ara Parseghian, Coach Who Returned Notre Dame Football to Greatness, Dies at 94."

Ara Parseghian, a Presbyterian of Armenian descent who might have seemed an unlikely savior of Notre Dame football but became just that, coaching the Fighting Irish out of the wilderness and back to greatness in the 1960s and '70s, died early Wednesday morning at his home in Granger, Ind. He was 94.

Parseghian, whose home was not far from the university's campus in South Bend, Ind., had recently been undergoing treatment at a care facility for a hip infection.

Parseghian ranks with Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy in the pantheon of Notre Dame football coaches. In his 11 seasons (1964 through 1974), his teams won 95 games, lost 17 and tied four, for a .836 winning percentage. His 1966 and 1973 teams were voted national champions.

When Parseghian arrived at Notre Dame, the university's football program had been in decline for years. The collapse started in 1956, when Notre Dame won only two games and lost eight. Though there were some victories, Notre Dame never won more than five games in a season from 1959 to 1963. Twice it won only two games.

Notre Dame fans and Notre Dame haters - there have always been armies of each - offered theories: The university's leaders were de-emphasizing football as they sought to raise the school's academic reputation; good players didn't want to go to an all-male school; tradition alone could not attract enough talented athletes; the coaching was bad; all of the above.

Meanwhile, Parseghian was gaining a reputation.

Notable & Quotable is compiled by Graham Osteen. Contact him at