Trump's Brove Affairs
Monday July 23, 2018
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- I did some TV last Friday. As I Tweeted:
Friend: What did you do today?
Me: I just did English TV
Friend: What was your other choice, Telemondo?
Me: I meant @SkyNews, British TV.
- The question to be discussed, of course, was Donald Trump's continuing brove affair with Vladimir Putin.
- I don't like to wing it when I go on TV, so I spent the better part of the morning thinking about it and came to this conclusion: Trump likes being around dictators: Russia's Putin, North Korea's Kim, and the Philippines' Duterte.
- Trump likes the fact that they answer to no one, but everyone must listen to them. They can order anyone to do anything at any time. They can hire who they want, and fire them whenever they want.
- Exactly the way Trump ran (runs) his business.
- Putin was in Trump's head when Trump suddenly announced he was inviting Putin to Washington. It is not clear who, if anyone, in the White House knew that was coming but it was painfully clear that Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, the man who oversees all of America's spy activities, didn't.
- One of the problems in watching this White House is we're never clear on whether something like that was done specifically to embarrass someone who works for Trump - in this case Dan Coats. Or, whether it was done because of a pervasive, and growing, level of incompetence - no one thought to reach out to Coats to alert him.
- It has been reported that Trump instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to issue the invitation for Putin to visit Washington this Fall, but it would surprise no one to find that Trump invited Putin during their one-on-one meeting in Helsinki and Pompeo was just formalizing the invitation.
- Pompeo has been an enthusiastic supporter and defender of Trump's frolicking foreign policy.
- There is a growing sentiment - or, at least, a sentiment growing in volume - that Trump employees should resign in protest of Trump's performance in Helsinki.
- Some people say that having sensible people around Trump is crucial to keep him from emulating his role models - Putin, Kim, and Duterte - even more closely is crucial to America's long-term safety and security.
- Others, like Robert Gehrke, a columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune, took a different tack when he called on the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, to resign his post. Huntsman has been the Governor of Utah and was appointed Ambassador to China by Barack Obama.
- Gehrke's column began:
"Ambassador Huntsman, you work for a pawn, not a president. It's time to come home.
"There is no other reasonable course of action to take after Monday's disgraceful joint news conference with President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin."
- Huntsman, whose brother is the owner and publisher of the paper, wrote a response that included a defense of the people who work him in our Embassy in Russia:
"Their focus is on the work that needs to be done to stabilize the most dangerous relationship in the world, one that encompasses nuclear weapons, fighting terrorism, stopping bloodshed in Ukraine, and seeking a settlement of the seemingly intractable Syrian crisis.
"Their dedication to service to their country is above politics, and it inspires me to the core. It is my standard."
- Everyone has to decide where their personal line-in-the-sand is scribed.
- From the beginning of his Presidency, Trump had difficulty understanding that neither the White House Counsel, nor the Attorney General were his personal lawyers. He seemed confounded by the Judicial Branch's tendency to declare his travel bans Unconstitutional. He had no idea how difficult repealing Obamacare would be - even though just about every living, breathing Republican in every public office from school board on up had run on promising to do that very thing.
- And, of course, he continues to be baffled by his inability to intimidate Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein or Special Counsel Robert Mueller into abandoning their investigation of what did the Russians do, when did they do it, and was anyone connected to the Trump campaign involved.
- Vladimir Putin doesn't have to put up with that kind of aggravation. Neither does Kim Jung Un nor Rodrigo Duterte.
- That's why Trump so admires them.
- On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to a bio of Dan Coats, to the Gehrke op-ed and the Huntsman response. Also what "Brove" means.
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