Trumping Out 2018

* The Pentagon-and-ally-ignoring Syrian pull-out. The lack of a working definition of “denuclearization” with North Korea. The border wall stand-off resulting in a governmental shutdown. The unpaid price for Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Trans Pacific Partnership. The Paris climate-change accord. Too bad we couldn’t have elected a president whose forte was, uh, negotiation.

* Isn’t it telling that England, France, Germany and Israel, among many others, disapprove of the unilateral withdrawal of the U.S. from Syria, but Russia, Iran and Turkey couldn’t be more pleased?

* We should give Trump credit for going to Iraq and visiting with war-zone troops. But, of course, he had to turn it into a campaign-rally dynamic. Indeed, he did work “The Wall” in, lied about military raises and also gloated that “We’re no longer the suckers, folks.” In short, he was equating life-risking, American members of the military with “suckers” who cluelessly fight others’ battles. Enjoy those selfies.

There are only two protocol boxes to check when a president visits troops: giving gratitude and boosting morale. Presidents don’t engage in political rhetoric, because politics and the military must be kept separate. Presidents should never morph those who serve into political pawns. And speaking of protocol, it didn’t go over well with locals that he didn’t deign to meet–even nominally–with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdu-Mahdi.

* How outrageous, frustrating and unfair that we have to endure a government shutdown over a border wall. If only Mexico had kept Trump’s word that it would pay for it. Such bad, unreliable hombres.

* “A made-up fight so the president can look like he’s fighting. The whole thing is juvenile.”–Retiring Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., on the battle over border wall funding.

* “Turn me into Hoover.” That’s what Trump narcissistically fears could happen as a result of decisions being made at the Federal Reserve under Fed chairman Jerome Powell.

* The GOP, as we know, lost 40 House seats and ceded majority to the Democrats, which means, among other things, a halt to key parts of Trump’s legislative agenda. It also means that the Dems will have House oversight authority–as in calling the shots on holding hearings, requesting documents and issuing subpoenas. As in having the wherewithal to investigate the president’s family, business, campaign and administration.

So how do Trumpsters spin it? Try this: “It’s absolutely fair to say that it’s better to have Nancy Pelosi as a foil than Paul Ryan as a foil,” pointed out Marc Short, who used to be Trump’s legislative affairs director. “It’s better for the party, and it’s better for unity. The reality is the Democrats could overplay their hand.” So there.

* Speaking of Dems, all the speculation about presidential opponents for Trump will start to solidify before too long. The first candidate debate will be this June.

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