After last week, who needs Game of Thrones or even Netflix to be entertained, dazzled and even overwhelmed than by merely reading the news or streaming it on television, cellphone or nearby computer?
Michael Cohen, formerly personal attorney to Donald Trump; Imran Khan, ace cricket bowler and now Pakistani prime minister; and Kim Jong Un, impersonating Mikhail Gorbachev held center stage with casts of supporting actors.
Cohen's testimony before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee was out of Lord Michael Dobbs' House of Cards, the British version, and the vileness of Francis Urquhart, known as FU. Instead, however, this villain was the president of the United States -- a liar, cheat and con man. Wow.
If that performance were not sufficiently riveting, two nuclear powers -- India and Pakistan -- stood toe to toe on the precipice of war. Khan may be able to defuse the standoff by returning the captured Indian pilot who was downed in a dog fight following a retaliatory airstrike after the suicide bombing in Kashmir that killed about 40 Indian security personnel. Not since the standoff over Kargil 20 years ago or the Mumbai bombing in 2008 has the subcontinent seemed at such risk of war.
Last in this trilogy was the nuclear summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. Trump had inferred if not promised a minor miracle. Instead, the meeting unexpectedly ended. The United States claimed that Kim, perhaps emulating then Soviet leader Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1986 who offered nuclear disarmament in exchange for Ronald Reagan abandoning his Strategic Defense Initiative, called for an end to sanctions as the quo for the quid of closing down the Yongbyon nuclear facility. The North Korean foreign minister claimed that Pyongyang only wanted partial relief. Regardless, the summit abruptly ended.
Of course, more will follow. The Cohen hearings, to borrow the Washington Post's metaphor of setting the table for further investigations, are just hors d'oeuvres. The Democratically controlled House will feast on the opportunity to examine in great and even tawdry detail presidential conduct. Meanwhile, investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller and the Southern District of New York continue, with Mueller's findings expected to be released in coming days.
Just when Trump needed a boost, his close compadre Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is about to be indicted on charges of corruption and bribery. This was quite a week that was. And one wonders what comes next.
While these stories make reality more enticing than fiction, the underlying consequences are striking. Whatever one made of Cohen's testimony and allegations, the open hearing was a sad day for America. That one of the president's men is going to jail for assorted crimes, along with a considerable number of other senior advisers, speaks volumes about whom the occupant of the Oval Office trusts. That has not been missed in Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang.
At the same time, America's closest ally and partner, the United Kingdom, is suffering the curses of the damned in dealing with Brexit. Prime Minister Theresa May appears to have no way out, even though a deferral in leaving the European Union makes obvious sense. The Conservative Party is as divided as the Democratic Party is here. And while Labor's Jeremy Corbyn is reeling over charges of anti-Semitism, his toxicity level threatens his leadership.
The state of democracy in Europe is not robust. The battle in Venezuela between competing presidents does not seem to be favoring the plight of most of its citizens, who face continuing humanitarian hardships despite the availability of relief waiting at its borders. What else could go wrong?
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been making headway in the Greater Middle East. Sales of surface-to-air S-400s to NATO ally Turkey and the now inevitable survival of Bashar al-Assad in Syria surely raise Putin's credibility. Direct threats made by Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov about targeting the White House, Camp David and the Pentagon with new Russian super weapons are rather bold. And where and how trade negotiations with China are headed remain uncertain.
This week will not be good for the president either. His ex-attorney goes back for further questioning. Fallout over the Kim summit will not improve the president's standing as a negotiator. And that the president ordered his chief of staff John Kelly to authorize top secret clearance for son-in-law Jared Kushner and lied about it may not be earthshaking. It is news.
Perhaps the TV hit 24 is a better model than FU. Weekly, fictional hero Jack Bauer escaped the jaws of death. The looming political question is whether Trump will enjoy the same luck.
Harlan Ullman is UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave Distinguished Columnist. His latest book is "Anatomy of Failure: Why America Has Lost Every War It Starts." Follow him @harlankullman.