Finland Fiasco And More

  • The “Fiasco in Finland.” Tough-guy negotiator Donald Trump backing down to Vladimir Putin as the geopolitical world watched.

Honest, patriotic Americans had to be as angry as they were embarrassed. Even by this president precedent. No guts with Putin, but plenty of chutzpah and bluster for everybody else. Trump dismissed and insulted his national security experts while treating Putin the way his sycophancy treats him.

But then Trump acknowledged that he had misspoken. He played the double-negative mulligan card. Then back home, he was still misspeaking on matters of Russian meddling to the media. What did he mean by “no”? Or did he say “go”?

This wouldn’t be credible for an “SNL” skit, let alone a “House of Cards” scenario.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins summed it up. “There’s a walk-back of the walk-back of the walk-back of the walk-back?” she rhetorically asked. “This is dizzying.”

  • OK, it doesn’t qualify as collusion, but sometimes it seems that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin share scripts. Here’s a post-summit take of Putin’s: “We can see forces in the United States, which would easily sacrifice Russian-American relationship for the sake of their (narrow group and party) ambitions in domestic political struggle in America.”
  • When Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China, was named ambassador to Russia, it was reason to feel (somewhat) encouraged about key Trump Administration appointees. Recall Huntsman was a more than credible Republican presidential candidate in 2012. He was qualified. He speaks Mandarin better than Trump speaks English.

But with the “Fiasco in Finland”—and all that preceded and followed it—it’s time for Huntsman to step down and disassociate himself from this unhinged regime. Right now he is enabling an incompetent authoritarian who has been obviously compromised by Russia.

  • How ironic, at best, that the “fake news media” notably doesn’t include the National Enquirer. Hardly happenstance that the chairman of the tabloid’s parent company (American Media Inc.) is Trump ally-friend David J. Peker.
  • Some things do transcend political partisanship and divisiveness. To wit: Here’s a U.S. Senate vote we’re not likely to see repeated any time soon, if ever: 98-0. That tally resulted from the Senate’s vote on a resolution warning the president not to let the Russian government question American diplomats, such as former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, or other U.S. officials.

Most Americans, if not the president, know that Kremlin critics frequently wind up dead.

  • Barack Obama, along with Michelle Obama, have signed a multiyear deal with Netflix to produce a “diverse mix of content.” Good for them. The Obama presence, in whatever capacity, is welcome.

But that doesn’t satisfy a pragmatic political need. Obama, whose presidency galvanized Trump and the birther brigades who needed a cult hero and scapegoat, could be a difference-maker this fall by helping to rally the Democratic base. He would also be reminding independents and establishment GOPsters that we once had a president with class and eloquence who wasn’t beholden to Vladimir Putin and wasn’t an existential threat.

  • Most everyone agrees that the Federal Reserve needs independence. Both actual and perceived. It has a lot to do with investor confidence and the fact that the Fed is charged by Congress to maximize employment and maintain stable prices.

Donald Trump seems oblivious to such subtlety and recently chided the Fed—as only he can chide–on interest rate hikes. “I am not happy about it,” said Trump in a CNBC interview. Then, in response to a question about those who didn’t think it appropriate for a president to publicly comment on interest rates or the dollar, he dismissed such concerns in familiar fashion. “I couldn’t care less what they say.” Or maybe he could care less?

  • Of all the supportive parts of the Trump base—from soy bean farmers to Harley Davidson workers—the Trump-acolyte group that still seems most incongruous is the Christian right and evangelicals. Does a politically expedient stand on abortion offset everything else?

“Hate the sin, love the sinner” is a familiar refrain. So is forgiveness. We get that. But why not a candidate with much less to, well, forgive? Why not a candidate whose life isn’t rife with ethical and moral abandonment? Why not a candidate who won’t require hypocrisy as a condition for support? Hate the sin, elect the sinner?

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