Is it coincidence or contagion, this malady that seems to have suddenly induced paralysis in the leading nations of the West?

With lawyer-fixer Michael Cohen's confession that he colluded with Donald Trump in making hush money payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, America's stage is set for a play that will run two years.

As Democrats test the waters for a presidential run by savaging Trump, the establishment Trump detests and defeated in 2016 will use every weapon in its considerable arsenal to break and bring him down, as it did half a century ago to Richard Nixon.

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If Donald Trump told Michael Cohen to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels about a one-night stand a decade ago, that, says Jerome Nadler, incoming chair of House Judiciary, would be an "impeachable offense."

This tells you what social media, cable TV and the great herd of talking heads will be consumed with for the next two years -- the peccadillos and misdeeds of Trump, almost all of which occurred before being chosen as president of the United States.

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George H.W. Bush was America's closer.

Called in to pitch the final innings of the Cold War, Bush 41 presided masterfully over the fall of the Berlin Wall, the unification of Germany, the liberation of 100 million Eastern Europeans and the dissolution of the Soviet Union into 15 independent nations.

History's assignment complete, Bush 41 was retired.

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In Katowice, Poland, all the signers of the 2015 Paris climate accord are gathered to assess how the world's nations are meeting their goals to cut carbon emissions.

Certainly, the communications strategy in the run-up was impressive.

In October came that apocalyptic U.N. report warning that the world is warming faster than we thought and the disasters coming sooner than we thought.

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On departure for the G-20 gathering in Buenos Aires, President Donald Trump canceled his planned weekend meeting with Vladimir Putin, citing as his reason the Russian military's seizure and holding of three Ukrainian ships and 24 sailors.

But was Putin really the provocateur in Sunday's naval clash outside Kerch Strait, the Black Sea gateway to the Sea of Azov?

Or was the provocateur Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko?

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Mike Scruggs