Trumpster Diving: What A Week

* So what did we learn as a result of the abruptly ended summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un? The one that Trump “walked” away from because no deal is better than a bad deal, which is, of course, quite true. Well, we learned that what we already knew hadn’t changed. Even if an Ignoble Prize were part of the mix. An amateur hour approach featuring less-than-seamlessly coordinated preparation and a narcissistic, seat-of-the-pants negotiator will end in a bad deal or no deal. And once again, we are reminded that a Trumpian one-on-one, winging-it approach works a lot better with underleveraged, New York contractors than with an authoritarian thug.

* Speaking of authoritarian thugs, Kim, we were told by Trump, said he didn’t know about Otto Warmbier. Moreover, such incredulity was quite credible to Trump. “I will take him at his word,” he underscored. There’s precedent. This keeps Kim on Trump’s short list of autocrats–including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, Turkey’s Recep Tayyib Erdogan and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte–whose prevaricating words are their duplicitous bonds. It’s utterly absurd to think an authoritarian such as Kim would not know everything he needs to know–such as the status of a tortured American imprisoned in high-profile geopolitical context. The only authoritarian who might not know important, geopolitical, hot-button stuff is Trump, the exception to most rules.

* Trump’s rambling, two-hour, lie-infested, opponent-demeaning rant at CPAC was vintage Trump–if the goal was to sound like an Alec Baldwin Trump parody. “You know, I don’t know, maybe you know. You know, I’m totally off script. Right? This is how I got elected, by being off script … and if we don’t go off script, our country is in big trouble, folks.” No, they don’t put stuff like that on a Teleprompter, not even Baldwin’s.

* Michael Cohen’s best line from his House Oversight Committee testimony was aimed at grandstanding GOPsters displaying embarrassing fealty to Trump. “I did the same thing you’re doing now,” underscored the erstwhile Trump “fixer.” I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years.”

* How shocking, indeed shocking, that during his decade-plus as Trump’s all-purpose, personal attorney and “fixer,” Michael Cohen never manifested signs of being a chronic liar?  Or maybe pathological liars are incapable of recognizing the symptoms.

* No, it’s not likely that impeachment (and Senate conviction) will be the most likely scenario preventing Trump from a second term. In fact, it could ironically energize the Trump base if there’s no Nixonian revelation of blatantly obvious guilt. But the “i” word is still in play. Here’s how House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., framed it: “We don’t have the facts yet. Impeachment is a long way down the road. … This investigation goes far beyond collusion–we’ve seen all the democratic norms that we depend on for democratic government attacked by the Administration. … But we’re going to initiate proper investigations.” BTW, only the Judiciary Committee can recommend the president’s impeachment.

* On a party-line vote, the Senate has now confirmed the new EPA administrator, Andrew R. Wheeler. So it’s now official: The person charged with oversight of the nation’s air and water is a former coal lobbyist. Once again, you can’t make this stuff up.  

* Climate change isn’t like tariff controversies or Affordable Care Act partisanship or a Trumped-up, border-wall emergency. No, this is existential. This is low-lying Tampa Bay, the vulnerable United States of America and the exposed Planet Earth. This can’t be another zero-sum standoff with Green New Deal distortions and no science-embedded alternative acceptable to the other side.

* “Fascism was an affair of the gut more than of the brain.” That was the take of historian Robert Paxton, author of (2004) “The Anatomy of Fascism.” Alas, it continues to have application.

* The first Democratic presidential primary debate is in, yes, June. A key question–given all the declared candidates and those still likely to jump in–is how many nights it will encompass. At least two, to be sure.

* What’s in a name? Well, call this one a Congressional oxymoron: Trump-supporting, NRA-backed, Democrat-turned-Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy.

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