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Donald Trump’s European Vacation

Donald Trump’s recent trip overseas, which covered stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Europe, was perhaps in the oddest of any for an incoming President in recent memory. For one thing, there was the choice of destination. With the exceptions of Jimmy Carter, who went to the United Kingdom for his first foreign trip, every new President since World War II chose either Canada or Mexico for their first foreign trip. (Source)1  By contrast, Trump’s first foray into international relations ended up being a nine-day jaunt that covered Saudi Arabia, a visit to Israel that included meetings with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas, and stops in Europe for a visit to Vatican City to see the Pope, a trip to Belgium for a brief meeting with NATO heads of government, and then a trip back to Italy for the G-7 Summit in Sicily.

For the most part, the visits to the Middle East seems to have gone fairly smoothly, which isn’t entirely surprising. The Saudis put on a full show of all the Saud family’s royal ostentatiousness in what seemed like a clear effort to please a man already known for gaudy and excessive displays of wealth. The Israeli visit seemed to go fine as well, even Trump’s meeting with Abbas. The most notable thing about this segment of the trip is that, as expected, Trump did not announce that he was moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, although there may be news about that matter later this week. The Vatican City visit seemed to go well as well, although the fact that there’s a protocol to audiences with the Pope that even someone like Donald Trump apparently can’t screw up.

The problems began to surface when Trump arrived in Belgium and followed him to Sicily, and what happened there could have serious implications for the relationship between the United States and Europe for many years to come. At the NATO meeting, Trump made headlines by delivering a speech that spent more time talking about his previously voiced complaints about the alliance, including his entirely mistaken belief that the alliance policy of setting a goal that each member spend roughly two percent of their Gross Domestic Product on defense somehow constitute “dues” that are “owed” to NATO, remarks about the cost of the new NATO headquarters building in Brussels, and an incident where he basically shoved the Prime Minister of Montenegro, the alliance’s newest member, out of the way so he could be at the front of the line for a photo op. Things reportedly didn’t go much better at the G-7 Summit in Sicily, with several reports about what some diplomats called signs of Trump’s naivete and superficial knowledge regarding international issues.

Some of these reports may seem as if they are minor matters, but for nearly all of the leaders he met with this was the first one-on-one meeting they had with the new President, and their first opportunity to evaluate him on the world stage. By all accounts, while Trump did well when he was cozying up to the brutal authoritarian dictators in Saudi Arabia, and of course was sufficiently obsequious to Netanyahu to keep his evangelical base happy (which was half the purpose behind visiting Israel, of course), the President of the United States managed to come across as something of a buffoon when dealing with our most important allies and our most important alliance. One need only consider the immediate reaction of German Chancellor Angela Merkel for evidence of that:

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Europe’s most influential leader, has concluded, after three days of trans-Atlantic meetings, that the United States of President Trump is not the reliable partner her country and the Continent have automatically depended on in the past.

Clearly disappointed with Mr. Trump’s positions on NATO, Russia, climate change and trade, Ms. Merkel said in Munich on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as steadfast as they once were and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.”

“The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are somewhat over,” Ms. Merkel added, speaking on the campaign trail after a contentious NATO summit meeting in Brussels and a Group of 7 meeting in Italy. “This is what I experienced in the last few days.”

Ms. Merkel’s strong comments were a potentially seismic shift in trans-Atlantic relations. With the United States less willing to intervene overseas, Germany is becoming an increasingly dominant power in a partnership with France.

The new French president, Emmanuel Macron, has shown a willingness to work with Germany and to help lead the bloc out of its troubles. And Ms. Merkel sees Germany’s future more and more with the European Union of 27 nations, without Britain after its vote to leave the bloc.

“This seems to be the end of an era, one in which the United States led and Europe followed,” said Ivo H. Daalder, a former United States envoy to NATO who is now the director of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Today, the United States is heading into a direction on key issues that seems diametrically opposite of where Europe is heading. Merkel’s comments are an acknowledgment of that new reality.”

Ms. Merkel’s emphasis on the need of Europe to stand up for its own interests comes after Mr. Trump declined to publicly endorse NATO’s doctrine of collective defense or to agree to common European positions on global trade, dealing with Russian aggression or mitigating the effects of climate change.

“We have to know that we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans,” Ms. Merkel said.

Ms. Merkel, who did not mention Mr. Trump by name, also spoke of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, which means the bloc will lose its second-largest economy and one of its two nuclear powers. Britain’s departure will also weaken trans-Atlantic ties and leave the Continent more exposed than before.

Given this new context for international relations, she said, “I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands — of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever that is possible also with other countries, even with Russia.”

With her statement, she seemed to be calling for German voters to get accustomed to a more active European role — and to more involvement by Berlin in crises on the Continent as well as global ones affecting Europe’s future. Ms. Merkel is seeking a fourth term as chancellor ahead of parliamentary elections in September.

Ms. Merkel was known to have been unsettled by her meetings with Mr. Trump in Washington in March, and she had been concerned that if Marine Le Pen won the French presidency this month, Germany would be isolated and the European Union badly damaged.

But Mr. Macron, who was meeting Mr. Trump for the first time, appeared to have a less negative impression of the outcome of the talks than Ms. Merkel. In a news conference at the end of the Group of 7 conference, Mr. Macron took a glass-half-full approach, saying that he believed, over all, that despite Mr. Trump’s earlier hostile language toward NATO, multilateralism was intact and there was a shared vision in a number of areas.

Mr. Trump campaigned on a platform of trade protectionism, nationalism and skepticism about multilateralism and climate change — all issues on which most European leaders disagree with him. Europeans also depend on NATO for their ultimate defense and are more concerned about an increasingly aggressive Russia than Mr. Trump seems to be, although his defense secretary and national security adviser, both senior military officers, insist that the president is fully behind NATO’s Article 5, which requires all members to come to the defense of any country in the alliance that is attacked.

Mr. Daalder said: “This is ‘America first’ — a policy focused on narrow self-interest — and abandons the idea that the best way to enhance our security and prosperity is by having strong allies and leading globally in pursuit of common values and interests.”

As they traveled back to the United States over the weekend, White House officials said Mr. Trump had succeeded in delivering a blunt message about self-reliance to American allies in Europe.

They said the president’s decision to scold the NATO member countries about their contributions to the defense alliance would reduce the need for the United States to carry the financial burden for the Continent’s defense. And they said the president’s tough position on trade would help protect American companies from unfair practices.

“This was a summit in which the goals and priorities of the United States and the president really were felt deeply,” said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s conversations with other leaders. Mr. Trump “has changed the way many people around the world are thinking about these issues.”

White House officials expressed little concern about the personal interactions between the president and other heads of state. The administration official said Mr. Trump had built “an extraordinary rapport with the other leaders.”

In addition to his statements about NATO, the areas of friction between Trump and the other international leaders extended to economic and other issues, including international trade and climate change. With respect to the first, of course, Trump has made his position clear since long before becoming President during a campaign in which he openly campaigned on the largely false argument that the United States has been harmed by international trade agreements such as NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. While he has yet to take any action on NAFTA, Trump has continued threatening to either repudiate the agreement or try to renegotiate it and has pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a move that nearly all analysts contend will ultimately harm the United States and benefit China. On climate change, Trump has been as much of a skeptic as most other Republicans and has threatened to pull out of the landmark accord signed last year in Paris, which he could accomplish via simple executive action since the Obama Administration chose to go that route rather than risk submitting the accord to the Senate as a treaty.

It is, however, the implications of the Merkel’s comments for the NATO alliance and the role that the United States has played in Europe for well over seventy years now. As an aside, it is worth pointing out, as Daniel Larison does, that Merkel’s comments come in the context of closely fought elections in Germany that are scheduled for September 24th. For the most part, both of Germany’s major parties are in agreement when it comes to the direction of Europe and there doesn’t seem to be the same kind of disdain for the European Union among Germans that we see in the United Kingdom and some other countries. Instead, there is profound interest in maintaining what is seen as a status quo that is very beneficial to the German economy and an apparent interest in anything that could threaten that. Additionally, Larison is correct that we should want Europeans to take up more responsibility for their own defense if only to ease the burden on the United States and allow us to address arguably more pressing issues in the Middle East, and in Asia with regard to North Korea and the Chinese muscle flexing in area such as the South China Sea. Additionally, since these comments were made in the middle of a hard-fought political campaign, they shouldn’t necessarily be taken as evidence of a sea change in the relationship between the United States and Europe. At the same time, though, there’s something concerning about the way that longtime allies have reacted to Trump’s first international trip and the implications it could have for the future.

Josh Marshall puts it well:

Trump now has around him a number of advisors who if they are reasonably criticized on various grounds hold conventional pro-NATO views on Europe. Defense Secretary Mattis appears to be the most important of these. McMaster, Powell and others figure in the mix too. They apparently worked on him closely to make a clear statement of honoring Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty – our commitment to come to the defense of any NATO member threatened with external aggression. It was even apprently in the speech he was supposed to give. But Trump nixed it and insisted on these entirely fraudulent entirely fraudulent claims of the Europeans owing the US vast sums of money.

Again, he’s malleable, a veritable changeling on everything but this. This isn’t a decision that’s the President’s to make or a judgement call. It’s a binding treaty commitment every President since Truman has lived under and honored.

Whether Vladimir Putin has something on Donald Trump or somehow has him in his pay hardly matters. If he doesn’t, he apparently doesn’t need to do since Trump insists on doing more or less exactly what Putin would want of him entirely on his own. Does this sound hyperbolic. Yes, it absolutely does. I’m even surprised I’m writing it. But look at the evidence before us. A simple statement on a decades old security commitment is the simplest, most pro-forma thing to do. And yet he refuses. Again and again.

Something is very wrong here. But we don’t know yet its origins of where it’s taking us.

Adam Silverman at Baloon Juice makes similar points:

The reality that the NATO and EU member state leadership have now observed up close and personal has disabused them of the belief that the President was transactional. That if they gave him takeaways that he could claim as wins and stroked his ego then he would do what every US president since Truman has done: formally and publicly commit to Article 5 of the NATO charter. No amount of sweet talk or easy wins will move him off what appears to be one of his few well defined and long held core beliefs. That America’s allies and partners seek only to take advantage of the US. This will make whatever the US wants to do in the world going forward more expensive. We will begin to see less assistance from our NATO allies and partners. And we will have to pay more, as in purchase, for assistance from other allies and partners going forward. Trade, defense, and anything else the US will seek to do within the global system will now come with a premium surcharge attached. Just think of it as the price that must be paid to make America great again…

In other words, Trump has managed to do something that the Russians, and before them the Soviets, have been trying to do since the end of World War Two, drive a wedge between the United States and Europe that now arguably threatens one of the most successful international alliances in world history. This is an alliance that has benefited American interests as much as it has benefited Europe and which doesn’t add to the costs of national defense nearly as much as it contributes in terms of international peace and stability and the advantages provided by forward-basing of men and material that has been used not just in operations in Western Europe but also to aid operations elsewhere, including the Balkans as well as during the Persian Gulf War, the war in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, and operations connected to our ongoing engagements against ISIS and other elements of the War On Terror. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the alliance’s collective defense provisions set forth in Article V of the NATO Treaty took place in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and that our NATO allies have all contributed in their own ways to the War On Terror.

Despite all of this, this President has managed to seemingly take steps that, if followed to their logical conclusion, would lead to an unraveling of our most fundamental alliance at a time when Russia is clearly seeking to undermine both the NATO alliance and the European Union. This most likely isn’t the result of knowing and conscious collaboration with Moscow, but that hardly matters. If the words of the German Chancellor are indeed more than just campaign rhetoric, the damage is already being done and the implications should concern every American. A weakened alliance between the United States and Europe now could lead to a more adventurous Russia in Europe and elsewhere. Additionally, if Europeans start to believe that the United States is no longer a reliable ally then it’s probable that existing and potential allies in other parts of the world will walk away with the same idea. After all, if America’s President is willing to throw away seven decades of success for what seem like purely petty reasons, then how can any commitment we make be trusted going forward? Whether it’s knowing or not, President Trump is acting in ways that threaten to make the world a less stable place and to place American national security at risk for years to come. And there’s not much anyone can do about it.

1 Dwight Eisenhower’s first foreign trip as President-Elect was actually to South Korea to visit American troops in the ongoing Korean War, but that occurred in December 1952 before he was sworn in as President. His first foreign trip after January 20, 1953 was to Mexico.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. KM says:

    The Ugly American: 2017 Edition. Now with Shoving-Action Stride (TM) and Creamsicle-colored Sour-Puss Filter for your Instagram! Separate purchase of Go-Kart of Democracy puts you just behind the action!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  2. MarkedMan says:

    Bottom line: Trump is representing Russia’s policies in Europe. Why?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  3. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    This most likely isn’t the result of knowing and conscious collaboration with Moscow…

    This administration is acting in Russia’s interest and against ours.
    Of course it is done knowingly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  4. MarkedMan says:

    Doug, upon what do you base the statement that “that this most likely isn’t the result of knowing and conscious collaboration with Moscow”? From before the Republican convention the only policy positions that Trump himself has articulated in anything resembling a coherent fashion is Russia’s. He has gone to great lengths to set up a communication with Russia that is secret from our intelligence agencies, but not Russia’s. We know that despite what he says, his business interests have a decades long relationship with Russian and other former Soviet oligarchs. And finally, at no point in his entire life has he ever placed anyone or anything over his own perceived interests, especially where his business is concerned.

    I understand that this is not proof, and caution is required since we are talking about what is essentially treason. But what drive’s you to say “this most likely isn’t”? It seems to me that it “most likely is”.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 0

  5. Pch101 says:

    The Pax Americana is rapidly declining into the Pox Americana.

    The rest of the world has no reason to trust a Republican administration. The threat of government shutdowns. The insistence that we are better than they are. The belligerence and unilateralism.

    Why should anyone expect the US to be a reliable partner who acts in good faith? I sure as hell don’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  6. Mu says:

    Germany is operating with a budget surplus, I’m sure they can afford doing a bit of additional defense spending. 3000 tanks for 10 additional panzer divisions should do the trick. I’m sure the rest of Europe will be ecstatic seeing the Germans do their duty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

  7. al-Alameda says:

    For the most part, the visits to the Middle East seems to have gone fairly smoothly, which isn’t entirely surprising. The Saudis put on a full show of all the Saud family’s royal ostentatiousness in what seemed like a clear effort to please a man already known for gaudy and excessive displays of wealth.

    For an interesting little exercise in perfect symmetry, flip the script:

    For the most part, the visits to Mar-a-Lago seems to have gone fairly smoothly, which isn’t entirely surprising. The Trumps put on a full show of all the Trump family’s ostentatiousness in what seemed like a clear effort to please Saudi royalty, already known for their gaudy and excessive displays of wealth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  8. michilines says:

    Wasn’t Trump complaining about golf courses in the EU? Since everything is personal and petty for him, perhaps this is his way to punish the EU for not letting him build golf courses there willy-nilly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  9. David M says:

    @michilines:

    Sadly, you’re probably not wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  10. Mr. Bluster says:

    Something is very wrong here. But we don’t know yet its origins of (sic) where it’s taking us.

    President Pud is a self confessed sexual molester of women.
    This is a huge part of what is very wrong.
    He is also not very bright.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  11. Scott says:

    One, we in Europe for our purposes just as much as for the NATO partners. The reason is that is our preference to fight adversaries over there than on our soil.

    A unified Europe is much more efficient economically than dozens in individual nations. Benefits us quite a lot.

    Two, eight NATO nations are partners in the F-35. We sell lots of arms to Europe. It is in our interest to be as interoperable as possible in weapons.

    I don’t think Fortress America can work in today’s world.

    As for a tilt to SA. That is a huge mistake that we will pay for.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. Dumb Brit says:

    Being an arsehole to your longest and strongest friends, having just licked the arses of a bunch of tyrants and funders of fundamentalism didn’t go down too well over here.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  13. Rick Zhang says:

    All the educated people I know (including traditional conservatives) are either rabidly against Trump, or “riding the tiger” hoping he can be reined in and his worst habits mitigated. The only people who actually still like him are the uneducated poor in the heartland who are kept pliable by propaganda. The problem is that they are numerous while the globalized elite cluster in cities on the coasts. If this keeps up, he may be able to win re-election in 2020 with ~40% of the vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  14. michael reynolds says:

    @Dumb Brit:
    Yeah, but we’ve proved we won’t be pushed around by Montenegro.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  15. An Interested Party says:

    The only people who actually still like him are the uneducated poor in the heartland who are kept pliable by propaganda.

    Ironic that those are the people who would be hurt most by his budget…thankfully, for them, that budget will go nowhere in Congress, freeing those people to vote for him again…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  16. Slugger says:

    For me the key is:
    “This seems to be the end of an era, one in which the United States led and Europe followed,” said Ivo H. Daalder, a former United States envoy to NATO who is now the director of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Today, the United States is heading into a direction on key issues that seems diametrically opposite of where Europe is heading. Merkel’s comments are an acknowledgment of that new reality.”
    No empire lasts forever, and no nation remains number one forever. Perhaps, a more multilateral world with three-four power centers is the wave of the future. Being number one is expensive in dollars and in the blood of our soldiers who are actually deployed on all continents and patrol every sea and ocean. It is also very trying to keep a finger on every global hot spot like kidnappings in Nigeria, drug wars in Mexico, nuclear weapons in North Korea, disputed islands in the South China Sea. Maybe we would be better off not being the sheriff of the world. I can live without waving an America number one foam finger.
    Of course, this type of extreme reversal of America’s course needs to come after a great deal of consideration. I doubt that Trump has the intellectual depth to do this, and I am sympathetic to the if Trump is for, I’m against it view.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. Hal_10000 says:

    Remember when conservatives used to complain about Obama snuggling up to dictators and dumping on our allies? Good times, good times.

    In fairness, the US-Europe relationship has been fraying or some time, particularly over the Iraq War. But Trump has now poured gasoline on a smoldering fire.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  18. al-Alameda says:

    We all know that there’s an eternal flame at the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery, right?

    Well, the Trump presidency is the site of the eternal dumpster fire.

    Every freaking day he re-enacts his middle school playground days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  19. Scott says:

    @Slugger:

    No empire lasts forever, and no nation remains number one forever.

    We began to lose our empire after 9/11, $4T, thousands of deaths, 100s of thousands injured/disabled. All on borrowed money, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I could make the case that this was the worst example of asymmetric warfare in history, even more than Vietnam. And, in a real way, we lost. I’ll leave history to judge and assign the blame although I have my opinions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  20. Slugger says:

    While we reflect on this overseas trip let’s not overlook Trump’s indelible stamp on foreign relations. That picture with the glowing orb will make people smile for the next century.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. DrDaveT says:

    @Scott:

    We began to lose our empire after 9/11, $4T, thousands of deaths, 100s of thousands injured/disabled.

    Sorry, no. Any given month on the highways is worse than that in dead and injured, and even the $4T was really not a big blow to the economy.

    The real damage was self-inflicted, in the aftermath, when the cowards and panderers to cowards sold out core American values for the illusion of security. “Give me Liberty, or give me… oh Jesus don’t hurt me I surrender.”

    I really really envy the UK and their “We Stand Together” stiff upper lip.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  22. bo says:

    Woefully mal-informing article and even worse comments. You all write like extra thick Democrats and resolute never-Trumpers. Not a Republican here, not even affiliated, I can still note confidently without worry of fault, that you all flatly do not comprehend what is happening right before your jaundiced glazed over cataract eyeballs. Think whatever you like, analyze however you will, you are all too thick to follow. Goodbye.

    I said, “Goodbye!”

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 29

  23. iSeeDumbPeople says:

    @bo: Nevertheless, I fear this is not the last we’ll see of you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  24. Surreal American says:

    @bo:

    I said, “Goodbye!”

    But you lot never really mean it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  25. Mikey says:

    @Surreal American:

    But you lot never really mean it.

    No, they don’t.

    Never underestimate the tenacity of stupidity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  26. Junkboxgrad says:

    Bo is right. Lol you lapdogs are terrible. …especially ass hat. Get a life.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 16

  27. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @bo: Your well-documentrd facts have won me over, good sir!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  28. Gustopher says:

    @bo: Don’t worry, I’m sure the Trumpster Fire will never burn the people who voted for him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. al-Ameda says:

    @bo:

    Not a Republican here, not even affiliated

    Think whatever you like, analyze however you will, you are all too thick to follow.

    Goodbye.

    -1- Wow, an actual Independent,
    -2- Thanks for your deep and very thick analyses.
    -3- Yeah, ciaozinho, we’ll always have the Mission District.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @bo: @Junkboxgrad:
    You’re agreeing with a bot. You’ve basically just high-fived a bot.

    I have only one word for you: covfefe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  31. Moosebreath says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “I have only one word for you: covfefe.”

    So what’s worse than a man with the emotional control of a 5 year old being in the White House? A sleep deprived man with the emotional control of a 5 year old being in the White House.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  32. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds: I think I got some sand in my covfefe at the beach last weekend.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  33. grumpy realist says:

    @bo: Oh, if you only would stick to your promises….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. KM says:

    @michael reynolds @Mikey

    Damnit guys, don’t make me google Trumpisms before my coffee. My brain went to truly disgusting places before the cold brew kicked in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  35. Mikey says:

    @KM:

    Damnit guys, don’t make me google Trumpisms before my coffee covfefe.

    hahahahahahahahahahaha

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  36. KM says:

    @Mikey:
    LOL that’s kind of where it was headed. Like, is that what he was drinking during his golden showers tape? Adulterated coffee he just went and rolled with but now has a taste for? “Special order” from the kitchen that the staff can’t wait to make him every morning?

    The barista was giving me some very strange looks when I double-checked my order was good this morning. Can’t be too sure nowadays……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  37. MarkedMan says:

    I know it’s accepted that Trump is a life-long teetotaler but, really? Just about everything could be explained if we assume he is usually sloshed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  38. J-Dub says:

    If only he had died in his sleep after typing “covfefe”. He would have gone down as this generation’s Citizen Kane.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  39. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    gawd…the sycophants think that “covfefe” was either intentional, or as a mistake makes dear leader into a real person…just like them.
    We are so fwcked, as a society, when 40% of the nation is that stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: I never bought the image of sobriety.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I hear you, but how could he keep it secret? Maybe qualudes from his sketchy doctor?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  42. Joe says:

    Trump’s approach to much of his foreign policy – scrapping TPP, pulling out of Paris, threatening NAFTA – seems to assume that America can withdraw from it’s leadership role and still be viewed as a leader. As @Slugger suggests, there are significant costs to being a world leader, but if we withdraw from those spaces, none of them will remain a vacuum. We scrap TPP, China will step in. We turn our back on NATO, other countries will take that lead. We allow NATO to weaken, Russia’s influence will grow. Those all seem like pretty big costs to us too.

    Perhaps Trump will take us back to pre-WWI America status. This is how the American Century ends. Make America small and marginal again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  43. CSK says:

    @Joe: “Russia’s influence will grow.”

    But, as several other people on this thread have suggested, surely that’s the point as far as Trump is concerned. Russia owns Trump. Not just metaphorically, but quite literally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  44. Andre Kenji says:

    @bo:

    Not a Republican here, not even affiliated,

    I understand that you are ashamed of admitting that you are a Republican. I also would be if I were a Republican.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  45. KM says:

    @Andre Kenji :

    Interestingly enough, there’s a lot of ex-Republicans here. People who have grown disenchanted with the party since the turn of the millennium or even earlier. People who maybe are financial conservatives but grow weary of the Cultural Wars social conservatives live to wage. People who were similar to Rockefeller Republicans back in the day but were driven out as dirty RINOs by the ever-sharper drift rightward. People like our hosts who retain the trappings of Republicanism but can no longer justify the stupidity being done in its name.

    Bots like bo pretend this is some kind of liberal bastion but in reality its inhabited by a good chunk of Republicans who just can’t be Republican anymore. The fact that they sound “liberal” is solely because of how fwcking nuts the party is these days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  46. Mikey says:

    @KM:

    Interestingly enough, there’s a lot of ex-Republicans here.

    I voted Republican in every Presidential election from 1984 to 2012, save 1996 (short-notice travel right before Election Day but after the absentee application deadline meant I couldn’t vote that year).

    Now I’m not sure what they could do to get my vote again, not just for President but for any GOP candidate. I suppose there might be something, but at this point I can’t even conceive of what that might be. Pretty much every position the GOP takes is abhorrent to me.

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  47. bill says:

    protocol is nice, accomplishing things is nicer. getting an orthodox jew into the saudi kingdom was pretty cool too, and bringing home billions in American arms sales was really nice. getting the sunni’s to denounce the terrorists they (used to?) support was nice. pissing off iran was even nicer, as the past regime seemingly emboldened them for some lame reason.
    paying a visit to our best friend over there (Israel) was nice too, even abbas had to keep his tone down.
    the pope, eh- you all hate christianity so why feign anything about that?
    europe got what they deserved, a bunch of pacifists who can’t seem to do anything without our military might behind them…..well, time to pay up. europes leaders are pretty pathetic from a human standpoint. how can anyone trust them to keep their kids safe when so many of them don’t even have kids?!

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  48. michael reynolds says:

    @bill:

    bunch of pacifists who can’t seem to do anything without our military might behind them

    Those pacifists backed us unstintingly after 911.

    And Germany is militarily weak by design. Try reading some history. See if you can figure out why. Come back and tell the class what you’ve learned.

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  49. Pch101 says:

    Germany has such a terrific track record of putting its past militarization efforts to good use that it’s difficult to imagine why anyone would oppose such a thing today.

    **hack hack cough cough**

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  50. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Those pacifists backed us unstintingly after 911.

    Yes. In fact, the only time Article 5 of the NATO treaty has been invoked was in response to 9/11. Those “pacifists” pledged their own blood and treasure in America’s defense. Some of our NATO partners–the UK, Canada, Denmark, for example–have sustained combat losses comparable to America’s on a per capita basis.

    In that context, Trump’s apparent lack of willingness to commit to Article 5 looks rather vile.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  51. Rick Zhang says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
    Decades of education being neglected at the state level has produced lazy Americans who can’t reason at a 9th grade level, much less compete on the global stage.

    @KM:
    Yes, the friends I grew up with all identify as Rockefeller Republican. We are generally fiscally conservative in our personal lives and prefer the country to be such in the public sphere, but we are also tolerant, globalist, agnostic, green, and educated. None of that is compatible with the Republican Party today.

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  52. Steve V says:

    Yeah, encouraging the European nations to arm up and then supporting nationalistic political parties and the dissolution of the EU … not seeing a problem here at all.

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  53. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    What I want to know is how it’s pronounced. Is the “v” silent because the ensuing “f” is unvoiced? Is the “f” silent because of the voiced “v”? Are both pronounced with a stop in between? And the 2 “e”s; is the first one long because the second is silent? Is the second silent? If its pronounced is it long or a schwa? We gotta get this right. It will be the word of the year for 2017.

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  54. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    And I forgot the “o”– long or short?

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  55. KM says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    I’ve been rolling with “coffee” with a random v inserted. Ko-vee-fee, silent second f. Since it was theoretically cover/ coverage however it should be ca-ver-feff, r sound inserted because why the hell not at this point? If he can make it up, why can’t we?

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  56. the Q says:

    The real danger to the Republic isn’t Trump …its folks like Bill and Bo who VOTE for people like Trump – that is really scary….because there’s tens of millions like them out there, voting for a candidate that reflects their ignorance, paranoia and fear.

    Its the fat, chain smoking, Christianist, below high school educated meth freaks in flyover country, which courtesy of the electoral system, have disproportionate say in national affairs.

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  57. JohnMcC says:

    @the Q: Dadgummit! I wish you’d put some sort of trigger warning on those switchbacks. Just about dislocated my neck on that last one. I mean, aren’t those homo deplorablis specimens the very voters that you’ve been lashing every Dem born after 1935 for not trying to win over?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  58. KM says:

    Good god, now Spicer’s trying to claim covfefe is real with meaning only known to a select few.

    THIS is why the Europeans are mocking Trump. Well, that and the orb thing. The whole trip was such an embarrassment conga in terms of optics and now this crap.

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  59. An Interested Party says:

    See what happens when a reality TV personality becomes president? George W. Bush looks positively august and statesmanlike by comparison…now that’s…scary…or, as Bush himself said, “some weird shit”…

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  60. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @KM: No kidding! About 7 or 8 years ago, a friend of mine asked me why I had changed my political views. My answer was to tell him that a few years back, I had come to the conclusion that The Right [TM] had become totally, entirely, and comprehensively wrong about matters related to foreign policy, domestic policy, and economics. It just doesn’t make any sense to be a conservative any more if that’s what you think.

    I’m not particularly comfortable on the left, but I’ve no where else to stand since what I believe was declared part of The Left [TM].

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  61. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Come back and tell the class what you’ve learned.

    Shortest presentation in the history of school, I’ll bet.

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  62. KM says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker @Rick Zhang @Mikey:

    My family and friends always identified as Rockafeller Republicans. My best friend since childhood famously declared during the Clinton years she hated Hillary so much that if she was on fire, she wouldn’t piss on her to put out the flames. Then came GWB and the GOP’s ever-increasing insanity. I literally fell off the barstool when she informed me this election cycle that not only was she pro-Hillary, but was actively working on the campaign. My rather bigoted aunts, who still called Obama by less then flattering names every chance they get, are slowly coming around to realize Trump’s not the savior they expected. None of the above would *ever* call themselves liberal or accept the label but as far as the party’s concerned, they’re all a bunch of RINOs or wannabe libs.

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