* “Americans love our freedom and no one will ever take it away from us. For Americans, nothing is impossible.”—That was President Donald Trump trying to wax proud and patriotic. Instead, it was more than ironic. There was a time when it would have seemed impossible to have elected someone like Trump to be a successor to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
* Trump’s Fourth of July speech beneath the statue of Lincoln underscored a soberingly obvious point. No staff-prepared, homily-rich speech, even if not delivered awkwardly from a Teleprompter, can offset the image of tanks on parade. What works well in Beijing, Moscow, Pyongyang and Caracas, looks like hell in Washington. And B-2 stealth bombers remind us that we don’t, alas, have a stealth president. His mega-MAGA presence is ubiquitous.
Plus, exclusive VIP seating for deep-pocketed Republican donors only made an ego-driven, charade parade into a partisan sham. The new normal now includes a hallowed holiday.
* “Reducing our nation to tanks and shows of muscle just makes us look like the loud-mouth guy at the bar instead of the extremely diverse and energetic nation that we are.”—Pete Buttigieg. And Mayor Pete could have added that for an already fortunate few, that loudmouth picked up their tab at last call.
* Make America Gluttonous Again: Speaking of symbols, Joey Chestnut wolfed down more than 70 hotdogs to retain his title at the annual July Fourth hot dog eating contest at Coney Island. Too bad this isn’t “fake news.”
* The Trump Administration perceives North Korea and Iran as its—and the world’s–biggest military threats. Arguably, North Korea is the bigger threat—and, ironically, the bigger conundrum. Trump has a, however weird, personal relationship with NK leader Kim Jong Un, which is potentially helpful, and there are UN sanctions still in force. That’s nothing like Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran-nuclear deal that alienated the U.S. from international partners.
But there is this: North Korea, unlike Iran, already has a nuclear arsenal. And there are still no concrete signs that both countries can even agree on a definition of “nuclearization.” Love letters and a political-theater two-step across the DMZ into North Korea are not nearly enough.
* Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the United States, has been quoted as describing the Trump Administration as “incompetent,” “dysfunctional” and “diplomatically clumsy and inept.” Diplomats typically speak in calculated diplomatese. Wonder what Darroch really thinks.
* It’s now official. There is no longer a lone Republican in Congress calling for the impeachment of President Trump. U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan has officially changed his status from renegade Republican to candid, country-first independent. That now renders the Republican Party totally spineless when it comes to holding Trump accountable for his justice obstruction.