The Week on Planet Trump: Not Content With America, Trump Screws the Planet Too
Monday: Merkel Roasts US
German Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined her doubts about the reliability of the United States as an ally on Monday but said she was a "convinced trans-Atlanticist", fine-tuning her message after surprising Washington with her frankness a day earlier.
In a speech in Berlin, Merkel showed how seriously she is concerned about Washington's dependability under President Donald Trump by repeating the message she delivered a day earlier that the days when Europe could completely count on others were "over to a certain extent".
She made those comments, which sent shock waves through Washington, after Trump criticized major NATO allies over their military spending and refused to endorse a global climate change accord at back-to-back summits last week.
Paul Carrel and Andreas Rinke, Reuters
Tuesday: Swamp Undrained
A Monmouth University poll released last week had some dispiriting news for President Trump: Only 24 percent of Americans said he had made progress "draining the swamp," as he promised so many times on the campaign trail.
How could such a thing be? Don't people understand that our nation's capital is now bathed in the cleansing light of Trump's integrity, renewed for a generation by the upstanding example of the president, his family, and his advisers? No?
It's curious, but we may be able to solve the mystery. Maybe it's the fact that Trump continues to refuse to release his tax returns. Or maybe it's the story about the family of Jared Kushner — who, among other things, is a cruel slumlord — seeking Chinese investors for their real estate projects by dangling promises of "investor visas" to those who pony up. Or maybe it's just the fact that Trump has stocked his administration with family members, business cronies, and Wall Street plutocrats.
Paul Waldman, The Week
The Paris Agreement is ambitious, universal transparent, and balanced. It brings China, India, and other developing countries fully into the regime. It combines strong, aggregate goals with a “bottom-up” structure in which countries decide their emissions targets for themselves and then continually update those targets on five-year cycles. Yet Paris boxes no one in; all are urged to aim high, but targets are not legally binding. It succeeded with strong U.S. leadership every step of the way. The entire world has signed on, save only Syria and Nicaragua. It appears that the president now means to expand that group of two to include the United States of America.
Pulling out of Paris would cause serious diplomatic damage. The countries of the world care about climate change. They see it as a profound threat. They recognize there is no way to meet that global threat without an effective global regime. And they understand that the Paris regime cannot work in the long run if the world’s indispensable power has left the table. The president’s exit from Paris would be read as a kind of “drop dead” to the rest of the world.
Todd Stern, The Atlantic
Thursday: The Complexities of James Comey
It is hard to know exactly how to consider Comey. Are the beans he may spill about Trump to be considered absolution for the sins he committed concerning Clinton’s email? Must we simply choose the lesser of two evils in an epic battle: a man of integrity who made a huge error in judgment over a man who lacks integrity and whose judgments are near absolute in their erroneousness?
Is it fair to believe sincerely that Comey should indeed have been fired, just not at this time, in this way, for this reason? Is it fair and right to harbor some hostility toward Comey while still cheering his coming confrontation with Trump?
No matter which way I think about it, I’m torn.
Charles M Blow, The New York Times
Friday: Trump’s Moral Vacuum
Britain's "Brexit" vote and Trump's "America first" rhetoric appear to have ironically brought the continental members of the European Union closer together. Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the other nations in the bloc have the wherewithal to provide for their own defense -- and surely will do so if they don't believe they can rely on the United States. Someone tell me how this would make the world safer.
Part of the problem is that the Europeans see Trump as going out of his way to forge a friendlier and more cooperative relationship with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, whom EU members such as Poland and the Baltic States rightly consider a threat.
Trump got a warmer welcome, and did less to give offense, during the Middle East leg of the trip. The speech in which he sought to address the Muslim world could have been better but also could have been worse, given his previous antipathy toward the 1.6 billion followers of Islam.
But Trump has given responsibility for forging peace between Israelis and Palestinians to a total amateur, his son-in-law Jared Kushner. The president declines to adopt the customary U.S. stance in favor of democracy and human rights, instead offering autocratic leaders such as Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Egypt's Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi his uncritical embrace. Such realpolitik has come back to haunt the United States in the past, and it will again.
Trump is abdicating all moral power. The world has no choice but to move on.
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post
Saturday: US Leadership in Flames
Why did the entire world agree to the Paris Climate Agreement? Because they know that climate change is real, human caused, and extremely dangerous. But then again, they are not funded by the Koch Brothers.
What is likely to come next? There are legal and diplomatic complexities to withdrawing from Paris itself. These are the nitty gritty of America's mindless behavior, but it will occupy and preoccupy the world's governments for months to come.
More important is what comes next on three fronts, regarding climate change, the U.S. economy and geopolitics. On climate change, let's not be distracted. Trump is an ignoramus. And most of the other promoters of leaving Paris, including the senators and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, are living in denial, clouded by their close ties to industry. Not too much more to it than that. The rest of the world will hold fast to its climate change commitments, and perhaps even be strengthened and more unified as the result of Trump's action today.
Jeffrey Sachs, New York Daily News
Sunday: Stomping on Planet Earth
America is living through a fractured fairy tale, in the grip of a lonely and uninformed mad king, an arrogant and naïve princeling, a comely but complicit blond princess and a dyspeptic, dystopian troll under the bridge.
American carnage, indeed.
On climate change, the troll, Steve Bannon, got control and persuaded Donald Trump to give a raspberry to the world. Bannon had better watch out or rising waters will wash out his bridge to the past.
Even though Jared, Ivanka, Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson, Elon Musk, Bob Iger and Lloyd Blankfein pressed the president to stay in the Paris climate accord — which is merely aspirational about the inhalational — Bannon won the day because Trump loves to act like the fired Mr. Met.
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times
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