Thursday, July 12, 2018

Rhyming with a Tiny, Brittle Witch


I'm Shocked! Shocked to find out that the swagger is gone when he's face-to-face with an adversary. On Tuesday The Washington Post reported

The U.S. president began a remarkable day of transatlantic diplomacy by attacking Germany as “captive to Russia,” later called on NATO countries to double their previous commitment to defense spending and then effectively renounced the gathering altogether.

“He could declare victory . . . and ride off in a blaze of glory as leader of the West,” said Alexander Vershbow, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and to Russia who met with officials on the sidelines of Wednesday’s summit. “But he’s rubbing salt in the wounds.”

Behind closed doors, Trump was cordial and even magnanimous at times with his European counterparts, according to officials who interacted with him. And at dinner, where the leaders mingled as an acrobatic dancer performed, floating in the air, Trump said it was “a very good day at NATO.”

Publicly, however, Trump bristled and bickered, interrupted and impeded — making clear to the world he is impatient and annoyed with an alliance that he says takes advantage of the United States.

“Everything in the room was fine,” Dalia Grybauskaite, the president of Lithuania, said in an interview. But outside the room, she said, Trump was less productive, with his “outspoken rhetoric.”

Publicly, however, Trump bristled and bickered, interrupted and impeded — making clear to the world he is impatient and annoyed with an alliance that he says takes advantage of the United States.

“Everything in the room was fine,” Dalia Grybauskaite, the president of Lithuania, said in an interview. But outside the room, she said, Trump was less productive, with his “outspoken rhetoric.”

During a closed-door working session of all the leaders, Trump was relatively reserved, according to attendees. He repeated the same arguments he made earlier in public that NATO member states needed to up their defense spending and that Germany is too dependent on Russia for natural gas. But he also stressed the common security threats all NATO allies face, according to a senior diplomat who was in the meeting.

This is Donald J. Trump.  Lacking an inner core of belief, he's all bluff and bluster in public while unable to confront anyone directly. Think of it as "The Apprentice" turned upside-down.  Gabriel Sherman reveals that former Fox News vice-president Bill Shine, who has become White House deputy chief of staff for communications, has rapidly become a favorite of the President. There now is

intensified speculation in the West Wing that the president’s long-suffering chief of staff and nemesis, John Kelly, will soon be departing. Kelly opposed the hiring of Shine and has seen his role continue to be diminished, sources said, sometimes in humiliating ways. “They’ve basically stopped telling Kelly when meetings are. People leave him off the calendar,” one administration official told me. “When he finds out, he storms into the room and is like, ‘What’s going on?’” A Republican close to the White House told me that Trump hopes Shine’s expanding role will encourage Kelly to quit. “Trump is too chickenshit to fire Kelly himself,” the source said. The strategy is reminiscent of the president’s decision to hire Anthony Scaramucci as communications director in July 2017 to drive out then-chief of staff Reince Priebus. “This is a more subtle version of Scaramucci,” an outside adviser to the White House told me.

This isn't the first time there has been a big rift, widely reported, between  John Kelly and the President, and not the first time that the firing of Kelly has appeared to be right around the corner.  But Trump hasn't fired the former general for three reasons: 1) Kelly is a former general; 2) Trump can't fire anyone directly; and 3) Trump can't fire anyone directly.

Donald Trump is a windbag. The entire premise of The Apprentice was stagecraft.  John Kelly, who reportedly is unsatisfied with a continental breakfast, may leave the White House, possibly soon.  His job appears to be excruciating and his ticket has been punched for a lucrative, post-White House career on cable or broadcast television news, a conservative think tank, or wherever a reliable conservative is needed.

Nonetheless, he won't be fired, any more than Trump will go toe-to-toe with Angela Merkel and tell her what he really thinks about her and Germany. Back in a more hopeful time, 36 months ago, Bill Maher already had Donald Trump pegged:








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