The Week on Planet Trump: "Stable Genius" Potus Reacts to New Book with Threats, Fire and Fury
Monday: American Retreat Gives China Pre-eminence
So far, Trump has proposed reducing U.S. contributions to the U.N. by forty per cent, and pressured the General Assembly to cut six hundred million dollars from its peacekeeping budget. In his first speech to the U.N., in September, Trump ignored its collective spirit and celebrated sovereignty above all, saying, “As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first.”
China’s approach is more ambitious. In recent years, it has taken steps to accrue national power on a scale that no country has attempted since the Cold War, by increasing its investments in the types of assets that established American authority in the previous century: foreign aid, overseas security, foreign influence, and the most advanced new technologies, such as artificial intelligence. It has become one of the leading contributors to the U.N.’s budget and to its peacekeeping force, and it has joined talks to address global problems such as terrorism, piracy, and nuclear proliferation.
Evan Osnos, The New Yorker
Tuesday: Contradictions on Jerusalem Damage Peace Process
"We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don't even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel," Trump tweeted. "We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"
The President's tweets late Tuesday afternoon, though, did more than threaten US aid to Palestinians -- they also appeared to contradict his own statements about the impact of his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and may have undermined his administration's efforts to hammer home that message in the Middle East.
"We are not taking a position on any of the final status issues including the final boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem," Trump said last month as he made his Jerusalem announcement. "Those questions are up to the parties involved. The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides."
Wednesday: Reckless Tweets Risk Catastrophe
President Trump's critics say his Twitter diplomacy is bad enough – but nuclear diplomacy by tweet could have explosive consequences.
A Tuesday night post all but threatening to blow up North Korea – the highlight of a striking 16-tweet day in which the president also promised to hold a ceremony to slam "the most dishonest and corrupt media" and suggested an aide to a previous political rival go to jail – has ignited new questions about Trump's judgment.
Trump's latest incendiary comments, analysts fear, could fray U.S. relations across the globe or even lead to nuclear warfare.
"Trump's latest tweets will convince many world leaders that not only is he unstable and unreliable, but potentially truly dangerous," said nuclear policy expert Joe Cirincione.
Trump and his aides have said they do not want to use military force, but they have not ruled it out. In August, as North Korea threatened to attack Guam with intercontinental ballistic missiles, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the human toll of a nuclear confrontation "would be catastrophic."
David Jackson, USA Today
Thursday: Bannon Rolls Back Trump Attacks
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday morning that "nothing will ever come between us and President Trump and his agenda," an assurance issued to a caller on Breitbart radio one day after the president said Bannon “lost his mind” when he left the administration.
“We're tight on this agenda as we've ever been,” Bannon said Thursday in remarks initially reported by CNN.
The former White House chief strategist’s denial of a rift between him and the president followed the publication of excerpts from a forthcoming book in which Bannon is quoted as calling “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” a summer 2016 meeting attended by Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and a Russian attorney promising Kremlin-sourced incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.
Excerpts of the book characterize White House staffers as unorganized and back-biting and the president as narcissistic, inept and ignorant. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that “95 percent” of the interviews conducted by author Michael Wolff were conducted “at the request of Mr. Bannon.”
Friday: West Coast Resists Offshore Drilling Plans
In the decades since a 1969 oil spill near Santa Barbara tarred sea-life and gave rise to the U.S. environmental movement, politicians and environmental activists have built up ample ways to make it difficult but not impossible for the Trump administration to renew drilling off California's coast.
The Interior Department said Thursday it plans to open most federal waters off the United States to oil leases.
In California, where no new federal leases offshore have been approved since 1984, Gov. Jerry Brown joined governors of Oregon and Washington in vowing to do "whatever it takes" to stop that from happening off the West Coast.
Brown joined both U.S. senators and other state officials last year in appealing unsuccessfully to Obama to ban California offshore drilling before he left office, and polls show most Californians opposed to offshore drilling.
Californians vividly remember the 1969 oil spill and a 2015 Southern California spill from a pipeline serving a platform in federal waters that blackened more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) of public beaches and closed two state parks.
Ellen Knickmeyer, ABC News
Saturday: “Stable Genius” Shrugs Off “Fire and Fury”
Speaking at a wide-ranging, impromptu audience with reporters, Trump said he felt compelled to fire off several tweets defending his mental state after the publication of Michael Wolff's tell-all book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House."
In a series of tweets on Saturday morning, Trump insisted that he is a "very stable genius" and that critics were speculating about his mental health because claims that he had colluded with Russia were “proven to be a total hoax.”
“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” the president said in a tweet.
Trump said conversations at the Camp David summit touched on issues including infrastructure, military funding and welfare reform, and he promised a more bipartisan approach in the new year.
The president also credited his tough rhetoric toward North Korea as being instrumental in getting the two Koreas to the negotiating table to discuss the North's participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will be held next month in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Sunday: Stock Market Booms but Incomes are Stagnant
President Donald Trump cheered as the Dow topped 25,000 for the first time ever Thursday, claiming that the stock market index record is evidence that "make America great again" was happening. There's no doubt the U.S. economy and Wall Street have momentum heading into Trump's second year as president, but worker pay remains frustratingly flat.
American wages rose a sluggish 2.5 percent last year, according to a Labor Department report released Friday morning. That's the same rate of wage growth as under President Barack Obama. Historically, wages have grown more than 3.5 percent in a typical economic upturn, but that hasn't happened in this expansion.
Trump is facing a similar problem that plagued Obama: The stock market is soaring, but wages are stagnant. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 25 percent in 2017 and is up more than 30 percent since Trump won the election, but those gains largely accrue to the wealthiest Americans, including many of Trump's donors and close friends. Almost half of the country doesn't have a single dollar in the stock market.
Heather Long, The Washington Post
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