The Week on Planet Trump: Failing Trump Isolates America at G20

Monday: Not Normal Times

At times like these, it's crucial to remember that the president is not, in fact, the most powerful or important person in America. He works for us, and we retain control of and responsibility for our destinies. In far grimmer eras of American history — slavery, internment, the Jim Crow days in the deep South — millions of men and women in this country found a way to conduct themselves with dignity, no matter how depraved things got at the top of the hierarchy. And their forceful dignity and refusal to give up on the American ideal are what makes me hopeful that this, too, will pass.

Elise Jordan, Time

Tuesday: Trump on 4th July

Over the course of his campaign, many of his aides privately came to the conclusion that their party’s nominee was a man whose instincts and experience were spectacularly unsuited to the office, even as they resisted a return of the Clintons. This instinct has only grown since inauguration day as many of the presidents’ men and women find themselves engaged in an absurd game of “contain the president” routinely derailed by Twitter tantrums.

And so, this Fourth of July, the challenge is to widen the aperture of our patriotism beyond the president. We are living through a stress test to the American system and we can’t afford to simply tune out or bask in the cynicism of moral relativism. Liberal democracy is not a guarantee and the alternatives have proven themselves worse in every way for fans of individual liberty.

But we can take comfort from the fact that our founders designed the Constitution with someone very much like Donald Trump in mind.

John Avlon, The Daily Beast

Wednesday: Trump’s Obamacare Nightmare

The issue of repeal, once the primary political battering ram of the Grand Old Party, has withered to the point that some conservatives mockingly refer to the current GOP proposals as "Obamacare lite," and that has kept a handful of Senate Republicans from supporting the health care bill. Even Mr. Trump's personal lobbying has failed so far to produce enough votes to bring the matter to the Senate floor.

As a result, Senate and House Republicans look likely to be returning home for the July 4 recess empty-handed on the matter, and obliged to defend or explain the failure to chalk up a first major legislative victory for the party and for Mr. Trump.

Despite his claim that "Obamacare is dead," for the time being at least it remains the framework for whatever reforms the congressional Republicans still hope to achieve. Their tinkering is largely driven not by some altruistic motive but out of fear of backlash from recipients facing loss of coverage in the reshaping.

Jules Witcover, The Baltimore Sun

Thursday: Graceless Trump

We already have disturbing evidence that the election of President Trump has produced an increase in xenophobia, stemming from an erosion of social norms that counteract public expression of dislike or hatred of foreigners. It is not unreasonable to speculate that insofar as the president uses violent images or language against members of the press, or against political opponents, he will end up fueling actual violence.

Gracelessness is an absence of grace, but the English language lacks a word for the opposite of grace. One candidate is “ugliness”; another is “cruelty.” Every human heart is drawn, on occasion, to what is ugly and cruel, and even rejoices in them. Prominent Democrats are fully capable of displaying both. Of course, politics is a dirty business, and, as both Lincoln and Reagan knew, you sometimes have to hit back.

But in modern history, no White House has ever been more graceless. Put political differences to one side. That’s a betrayal of our nation’s heritage, and an insult to our deepest traditions.

Cass R Sunstein, Bloomberg

Friday:Trump’s Alternative World

If the president read a few history books, he'd know that for most of the last 2,000 years, China and India were the world's leading economic powers and Europe was a relatively primitive backwater. He'd know that Europe rose to dominance not by erecting walls, but by opening itself to the rest of the world -- its resources, products and people.

There is nothing pure about Western civilization. Its ability to absorb and incorporate outside influences has proved a great strength, not a weakness. Imagine Italy without tomato sauce, a gift from the New World -- or the United States without the high-tech companies founded by immigrants, gifts from the Old.

Of course Trump is right to call for a united front against terrorism. But the solution, in a globalized world, cannot be to hunker behind walls, however big and beautiful those walls might be.

Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post

 

Saturday: Trump Falls into Putin’s Trap

You don't get a lot of shots at pressure in diplomacy. And after you've let your adversary off the hook, you certainly don't get to apply that pressure again. As far as the Russians are concerned, the public case is closed.

The problem is that the free public pass doesn't make it harder for Russians to proceed with their ongoing efforts to intervene in American democracy, to create confusion and disarray in our system.

And there are ample opportunities.

There are two governor's elections this November, and an additional 36 in 2018. There are 34 Senate seats up in 2018 and every single seat in the House of Representatives. Not to mention that just last year, the Russians potentially hacked into 21 states' electoral systems.

And instead of presenting evidence during his meeting with President Putin and making clear that he would stand with Democrats and Republicans and the leading intelligence agencies, Trump accepted the assurances of Putin all while smiling in front of the cameras. And the Russians have photos -- that they are already expertly spreading around the Internet -- to prove it.

Jen Psaki, CNN

Sunday: Losing Moral Authority at G20

Trump's decision last month to pull out of the Paris climate accords has put the U.S. in a league with Nicaragua and Syria, the only two countries in the world that did not sign up to the agreement in 2015. (Nicaragua decided not to sign because it said the deal would not do enough to reduce the emission of planet-warming gases.) In drafting their statement on this issue on Friday, the G20 delegates decided to remove a reference to a “global approach” to dealing with climate change.

It was a relatively minor tweak, but it pointed to a lesson that did not appear in the G20’s communiqué: No global approach is possible without agreement between the U.S. and its traditional allies, not even on issues and principles that seemed to be settled long ago. That reality may feel liberating for the leaders who have felt constrained or isolated due to the pressure of their peers, like Putin and Erdogan. But for the leaders who used to apply this pressure, it signals a new era of moral flexibility, one in which they should prepare to bend when their rules are broken.

Simon Shuster, Time

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