The Week on Planet Trump: "America First" Means Incoherence Abroad, Racism at Home

Monday: Is Trump a White Supremacist?

It is clear that Trump is a hero among white supremacists: He panders to them, he is slow to condemn them and when that condemnation manifests, it is often forced and tepid. Trump never seems to be worried about offending anyone except Vladimir Putin and white supremacists.

What does that say about him? How can you take comfort among and make common cause with white supremacists and not assimilate to their sensibilities?

I say that it can’t be done. If you are not completely opposed to white supremacy, you are quietly supporting it. If you continue to draw equivalencies between white supremacists and the people who oppose them — as Trump did once again last week — you have crossed the racial Rubicon and moved beyond quiet support to vocal support. You have made an allegiance and dug a trench in the war of racial hostilities.

Charles M. Blow The New York Times

Tuesday: Unpresidential Trump

Trump defines the word "presidential" negatively. For him, acting in a way consistent with the men who have held the nation's highest office before him is just a media construct. There's not really any such thing as "acting presidential" in Trump's world. If you're the president, you can act however you want because, well, you're the president. Might makes right. The president is presidential by default.

That view is consistent with this moment in our culture. The Kardashians have made being famous a goal in and of itself. It doesn't matter what you do with the fame. What matters is that you are famous. YouTube has convinced every person that theirs is a voice -- and a set of opinions -- that need to be heard. Twitter -- and social media more broadly -- rewards takedowns of people; the bigger the person (in terms of number of followers) you dunk on, the brighter your star theoretically shines.

But, the presidency -- until Trump -- was conceived of as being immune to (or at least above) those sort of lowest-common denominator instincts. From the day that George Washington decided he wouldn't seek a third term as our first president, there has been a "country first" mentality among our chief executives.

There was a sense of passed-down responsibility -- that, by dint of the position to which you were elected, you were required to try to always take the high road, to appeal to people's better angels rather than their lowest impulses.

Chris Cilizza, CNN

Wednesday: Fatal Flaw of Graham-Cassidy

Graham-Cassidy encourages states to seek federal waivers to experiment with the package of health care benefits that insurers must provide. What this means is that parsimonious states could offer little more than catastrophic coverage or permit insurance companies to charge differential rates for people with pre-existing conditions.

If the Republicans are successful with this last-ditch “repeal and sorta replace” crusade, the remnants of Obamacare will land in 50 state capitals with a thud. Twenty-seven Republican-held governorships are on the ballot in 2018. And thanks to Graham-Cassidy, health care would suddenly become the dominant issue in many of these races.

Remember that Graham wants voters to be able to complain about health care to their governors. He said at Tuesday’s press conference, “You can go to your governor who will listen to you because they care about your vote if nothing else.”

The class of governors elected in 2018 will be major players in congressional redistricting after the 2020 Census. It would be devastating to the Republicans if states like Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin elected Democratic governors running on the newly energized health care issue.

Walter Sharpiro, Roll Call

Thursday: No Trump Doctrine

The only thing all this makes clear is that Trump has no coherent foreign-policy stance. He only has instincts, many of which have lately run up against the realities he faces as the leader of the sole global superpower. He assumes that the United States has a divine right to behave as it likes, regardless of its previous commitments. He mistakes belligerence for power. He fetishizes strongmen. And he is disdainful of problems he views as liberal confections. (Nowhere in his speech did he mention climate change.)

Thus, the search for a Trump doctrine is like the hunt for the Loch Ness monster. Does it have one hump or two? How long is its neck? Is it a mammal or a reptile? Depending on where you look in the library of “Nessie” stories, you can justify many descriptions. Since the monster doesn’t exist, answers to these

questions are all equally false and equally true.

David Cassidy, The New Yorker

Friday: Trump’s Tough Talk Makes U.S. Weaker

The speech tried to rationalize "America First" as a great principle. But every effort Trump made to build an intellectual structure to support it only underscored that his favored phrase was either a trivial applause line or an argument that, if followed logically, was inimical to the United States' interests and values.

The notion that "sovereignty" is in such danger that it demanded 21 mentions is absurd. No member state at the United Nations rejects national sovereignty, and many use it as a cover for dismissing the values of democracy and human rights, casting both as the impositions of outsiders.

No wonder Trump won applause when he said that "you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first." Selfishness is popular. Russia's Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping no doubt nodded approvingly when they were briefed about Trump’s words.

E.J. Dionne, Washington Post

Saturday: Graham-Cassidy An Act of Mass Suicide

The Republican bill currently being rushed to a vote was put forward by a group of senators led by Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, and Bill Cassidy, of Louisiana. As has become the apparent rule for Republican health-care bills, there have been no hearings or committee reviews of the Graham-Cassidy bill. And, this time, lawmakers and the public do not even have a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the effects the bill would have on the budget, insurance costs, or the uninsured rate.

This is unprecedented: senators are moving ahead with a vote on a bill that would alter the health care of every American family and the condition of a sixth of our entire economy, without waiting to hear any official, independent estimates of the consequences. The irresponsibility is as blithe as it is breathtaking.

Atul Gawande, The New Yorker

Sunday: Trump Proves He is a White Supremacist

And now we have the president at a rally telling American citizens that the owner who fires a player for protesting “will be the most popular person in this country.” He went so far as to say that protests are hurting the game more than brain injuries and the desire to eliminate rough tackles. He told people they should just tune out or leave the stadium when they see a player protest. No free speech for black people. No right to protest. How dare you want freedom, equality and justice, y’all?

Because of Trump’s intolerance, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry planned to vote no in the team’s decision to take part in the White House championship visit. Trump heard this and withdrew the invite.

Yes, because a black person with a brain and a voice is a threat to the American way. Isn’t that thinking at the root of Trump’s obsession with denying then-President Barack Obama’s citizenship and undermining his intelligence?

Jenee Osterheldt, The Kansas City Star

 

 

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