Trumpster Diving

  • President Donald Trump took umbrage, as only he can, with comments made by Mette Frederiksen, the prime minister of Denmark. Frederiksen didn’t take Trump’s seemingly off-the-cuff comment about buying the island of Greenland seriously. “I thought the prime minister’s statement that it was an absurd idea, was nasty,” responded Trump in vintage Trumpian fashion before adding that he was abruptly canceling a planned Sept. 2-3 state visit to Denmark, a trip that was to include a formal reception by Queen Margrethe II.  “You don’t,” chastised Trump, “talk to the United States that way!”

Actually, you do talk to the U.S., via Trump, in that way these days. It’s part of the everyday, new-normal collateral damage resulting from the image-altering American election of 2016—and Trump’s overseas MAGA arrogance. And this just in from Denmark’s Parliamentary Speaker, Pernille Skipper: “(Trump) lives on another planet. Smug and disrespectful.”

BTW, welcoming billboards were already in place for Trump’s Denmark visit, ironically proclaiming: “Partner, Ally, Friend.” Explain that to the queen.

  • Every now and then something unexpectedly candid slips out of Trumpspeak pathology. To wit: the president’s G-7 admission to reporters that, indeed, he has had “second thoughts” on ramping up the trade war that has sewn uncertainty and turbulence into global markets. But then we were reminded why Trump, whose disdain for the European Union remains a given, still has “spokespeople.” Stephanie Grisham, the most recent incarnation of Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, stepped up to, uh, clarify. The press had “greatly misinterpreted” Trump, she explained. Trump actually meant that “he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.” Nice spin, Stephanie. We can see why the White House daily briefings remain on hiatus.
  • Presumably Trump had no second thoughts about cutting out early and passing on the G-7 working session on climate change, specifically helping the fire-ravaged Amazon and reducing carbon emissions. Probably not a comfortable venue–even for a “tough-guy” president–who pulled America out of the Paris climate accord and once claimed climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese.
  • It’s hardly coincidental that Trump’s largest single contributor to his 2016 campaign was the NRA, which anted up $30 million. And we’re reminded every time Trump backs off a post-mass shooting promise to push for, say, universal background checks. It’s those other kinds of checks that ultimately—and despicably–carry the politically-partisan day. And let’s not forget the 2017 forewarning when Trump spoke to the NRA’s annual convention. “You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.” Of all times to keep his word.
  • Trump’s gun-legislation focus, we now know, is not universal background checks—but the mental health of the gunmen. Obviously begged question: It has to be an either/or?
  • In a global economy, it should go without saying that trade partners and allies are critically important and unilateral efforts to change the rules are never helpful. It’s hardly a coincidence, then, that Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, made a less-than-nuanced statement to that effect at the beginning of the G-7 summit in France. “Trade wars will lead to recessions,” underscored Tusk. “Trade wars among G-7 members will lead to an eroding of the already weakened trust among us.” We all know who Tusk’s one-man, primary-target audience was.
  • Britain’s Trump.”—That label is how Jeremy Corbyn, British opposition Labour Party leader, disparages his rival, Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
  • Nobody expects to witness the Republican nomination of Joe Walsh for president in 2020. But the former Illinois congressman is officially in as a Trump primary challenger from the right. (The other announced candidate is the more moderate, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.)

A couple of takeaways. Walsh, 57, is an outspoken, in-your-face-if-necessary Tea Partying radio show host in the Chicago market, who plays well in the media. He says he stopped supporting Trump when the president sided with Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence experts in that infamous Helsinki meeting. He won’t have a lot of resources, but he’ll get a lot of free media. He’ll max out on it, and a lot more people outside Illinois will know who Joe Walsh is. It’s a good, profile-enhancing career move for the conservative who lost to Tammy Duckworth in 2012. And in the process, he can call out Trump. “I’m running because he’s unfit,” says Walsh. “Somebody needs to step up.”

Democrats, of course, are hoping that a Walsh challenge from the right will weaken Trump, who still has a high approval rating among Republican voters, and could complicate matters for a campaign that doesn’t need intra-party distractions beyond Trump himself. There’s also a political rule of thumb that primary challenges can weaken incumbents in the general election. Analysts often point to Pat Buchanan’s 1992 challenge to President George H.W. Bush as a prime example. There’s also the logistics involved when there’s competition. It costs a campaign resources and drains energy. You go, Joe.

  • Not that the Trump White House and cabinet need more turnover or related rumors, but there is speculation that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might be considering a run for the Senate in Kansas. The former Kansas congressman is being looked at in some quarters as the candidate to replace the retiring, 83-year-old incumbent, Pat Roberts. Red-state, Kansas Republicans are concerned after losing the governor’s office last year and are less than confident that Kris Kobach, a divisive right-winger, can carry the party for the GOP in 2020. Chances are, the rumors will continue until Pompeo gives a definitive answer or the filing deadline of June 1 has passed. For the record, this was Pompeo’s recent response to such senatorial speculation on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”: “I’m going to be the secretary of state as long as President Trump continues to want me to be his secretary of state.” In other words, stay tuned.
  • David Koch, R.I.P. (Regulations in Perpetuity.)
  • Trump’s favorite president is Andrew Jackson. But he would be well advised to reflect, to the degree possible, on the words of former President Harry Truman who once noted that “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”
  • Just when we think we’ve seen it all with this president’s peptic rallies. What’s next? An Area 51 campaign stop? Aliens for Trump? Makes no less sense than “Women for Trump.”
  • You go, RBG. I admire Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I just don’t want part of her legacy to be that she stayed too long and yielded her successor’s nomination to Donald Trump. He’s already, in part thanks to Mitch McConnell and the Federalist Society, had an outsized, right-wing impact on the Court. Hearing that Justice Ginsburg, 86, recently underwent radiation treatment for a malignant, pancreatic tumor was as sad as it was sobering. It was also a reminder that the best among us should go out on top, while they’re the ones making the call—not allowing circumstances, including partisan politics and ever-looming mortality—to dictate the next chapter. So, you stay, RBG–at least through Trump’s one-and-done presidential term.
  • Trump’s next formal press conference will be his first in 900 days. If nothing else, you would think a narcissist who captivated enough of a base by being a reality TV performer would welcome such a spotlight. But perhaps even Trump knows that bombastically pandering to a base and inevitably demonizing the usual suspects isn’t the best rationale for a de facto global forum that is scrutinized by a lot more than the “Duck Dynasty” and “Deliverance” crowds.
  • So, Sean Spicer will be competing on “Dancing with the Stars.” But it could be worse. It could be Sarah Huckleberry Sandbag cutting the rug.
  • Closer to this fall’s Brexit vote, we will see increasingly linkage between the UK and the U.S. We’ll see Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson juxtaposed in a shared spotlight. Maybe even references to England’s Royal Family if Megan Markle or Prince Andrew is back in the news cycle. If so, then America’s Roil Family could add additional colorful context.

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