The Week on Planet Trump: America's Biggest Mass Shooting but Still Trump Refuses to Act
Monday: Trump’s Tweets
What has President Trump done with his power to tweet? The most important use of this medium has been to stir social and political divisions, aggravating deeply rooted cultural tensions within the national psyche. We have seen this at numerous points in this presidency, including recently with his tepid response to white racist protesters in Charlottesville and his blasts against African-American players protesting racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. These are not "dog-whistles," but megaphones, which he uses to get across his message loud and clear. And in his latest tweet about Puerto Ricans, he appears to be comfortable using his words to reinforce obvious social stereotypes about their being lazy or "uppity" that are extraordinarily damaging.
President Trump has also used his Twitter power to spread false information that strongly influences the national conversation. He understands that in the 24-hour news media environment, it is almost impossible for reporters to ignore what he says, and once they start discussing his latest attempt at shock and awe, it is hard to stop.
Julian Zelizer, CNN
Tuesday: Prayers are Not Enough
As a nation, we may think of 9/11 as the event that most shook our sense of security. For many reasons, it did. Now, though, parents have to wonder if their kids are safe at school. Is their teenager safe on campus? Can they go to the birthday party at work? Is it safe to go to the movies? Is it safe to go out for a few drinks on a Saturday night? Can they take their wife to an outdoor concert and come home safely?
These are questions we rarely ever had to ask ourselves. We never would’ve thought about them. But too many mass shootings later, there is no segment of society, no demographic, no geography, no political bent that is safe from the AR-15 or the AK-47 on American soil. That is a disgrace. What’s worse than that? So many of us are so desensitized to these horrors that we’re beginning to believe that this is now just part of life.
Reed Galen, RealClearPolitics
Wednesday: Unfit President Failing Puerto Rico
For months now, observers have been noting that all the crises in the Trump White House have been self-generated, but that eventually the president would be tested by external events. Now a test has come, and he has performed about as badly as his worst critics could have feared. Hurricane season isn’t even over, and more catastrophes are surely on the way.
Maria should be a lesson: We need a working executive branch. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services both lack permanent leadership. The State Department has been hollowed out, and Trump undercuts his own secretary of state while threatening war with North Korea. America has largely survived eight months of Trump. That’s no guarantee we’ll survive eight months more.
Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times
Thursday: We Need Gun Control
Vegas is the Wild West. It’s the only state where prostitution is legal, where gambling isn’t a secret but a recognized and celebrated part of the mainstream culture. For many, owning guns is part of that culture, too. Firearms are all tied up, somehow, with freedom. Now we’re going to have to think about which freedoms matter to us the most.
The freedom to live? The freedom of movement? The freedom to travel around the state and country (and check into hotels) without being scanned, searched and prodded? Or the freedom to amass arsenals of war? It’s our choice. Which ones are sacred to us as a state, and as a country? This is a question of identity. Right now, it’s clear who we are. Right now, we are willing to give up everything in exchange for unlimited gun access. Is that who we want to be?
C. Moon Reed, Los Angeles Times
Friday: Trump and his Cabinet
This is the world in which we now live: The secretary of state has reportedly called the President a moron and spends a day trying to clean up the mess. The secretary of defense has publicly disputed the President's stated intent to withdraw from the Iran deal and also said we're not done talking with North Korea, after the President tweeted that we are done talking with North Korea. The chief economic adviser went on the record to say the administration must do a better job of denouncing hate groups after Charlottesville. The chief of staff, a four-star general, has privately told people he'd never been spoken to so badly in 35 years of government service, according to the New York Times.
Saturday: Trump and the Fed
For more than a decade the Fed chair has been a distinguished academic economist — first Ben Bernanke, then Janet Yellen. You might wonder how such people, who have never been in the business world, who have never met a payroll, would deal with real-world economic problems; the answer, in both cases: superbly.
In particular, both Bernanke and Yellen responded effectively to a once-in-three-generations economic crisis despite constant heckling from back-seat drivers in Congress and on the political right in general. And their intellectual and moral courage has been completely vindicated by events.
Given this track record, you might expect to see either Yellen reappointed or an equally qualified technocrat take her place. But remember, we’re living in the age of Trump, which means that we should actually expect the worst.
It seems safe to assume that Trump himself understands nothing about monetary policy. True, he’s pronounced on the subject fairly often, but not in any coherent way. One day he praises low interest rates for boosting the economy; the next he denounces them for hurting the incomes of the middle class. So trying to guess his Fed choice from his policy views is a mug’s game.
What he’s more likely to do is what he’s done with many other appointments: defer to congressional Republican leaders — leaders who, on matters monetary, have been wrong about everything.
Paul Krugman, The New York Times
Sunday: Tillerson is Toast
The secretary of state, repeatedly humiliated and undercut by President Trump, is clearly on his way to a Rexit, probably by year’s end. World leaders know he doesn’t speak for the president, which reduces his credibility to zero. And Trump will never forgive him for calling the president a “moron” at a national security meeting.
But Tillerson’s downfall signifies something far more dangerous than the latest tick in the “you’re fired” Trump reality show. It reflects the collapse of U.S. diplomacy under a president who thinks he can resolve global crises by bluster and threats.
In other words, under Trump, diplomacy itself has become toast. This leaves only bad options for dealing with North Korea or Iran.
Trudy Rubin, The Philadelphia Inquirer
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