Trump Doesn’t Deserve Credit for Defeating the Islamic State

Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Emmanuel Macron of France inspect an honor guard in Paris, July 13
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Emmanuel Macron of France inspect an honor guard in Paris, July 13 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump wants credit for defeating the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

In a radio interview, the American said he “totally changed the attitudes of the military” after taking over as president from Barack Obama in January.

“We weren’t fighting to win,” he said of the Obama era. “We were fighting to be politically correct.”

Asked why the caliphate is now giving up, the president said, “Because you didn’t have Trump as your president. I mean, it was a big difference.”

Sure. Read more

To Trump’s Mind, A Good Deal Means Somebody Else Loses

Presidents Michel Temer of Brazil and Donald Trump of the United States meet at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, July 8
Presidents Michel Temer of Brazil and Donald Trump of the United States meet at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, July 8 (Bundesregierung)

The reason Donald Trump is unable to govern effectively, argues Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, is that he has a misguided view of negotiation: for him to “win”, somebody else needs to lose.

This cartoonish kind of “dealmaking” is the only thing Trump knows:

His whole business history is one of cutting “deals” in which he gets lots of gain and little risk and the other guy basically gets screwed.

This only worked up to a point. Trump went through numerous bankruptcies and exasperated so many lenders that he was reduced to seeking capital from shady international operators and money launderers in the former Soviet Union.

As Marshall puts it, “You can only screw people over so many times before they refuse to work with you anymore.” Read more

Brexit and Trump as Reactionary Fantasies

Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in Fayetteville, North Carolina, March 9, 2016
Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in Fayetteville, North Carolina, March 9, 2016 (Donald J. Trump for President)

Andrew Sullivan sees similarities between Brexit and the presidency of Donald Trump. Both, he writes in New York magazine, are reactionary fantasies:

Brexit and Trump are the history of Thatcher and Reagan repeating as dangerous farce, a confident, intelligent conservatism reduced to nihilist, mindless reactionism.

Trump is the worst of the two. His absurd claims about the economy being a “disaster” before he took over and now posting record growth; his tough talk as substitute for foreign policy; his determination to reverse every one of Barack Obama’s policy accomplishments and his daily Twitter tirades are about as clear an escape from reality as one can imagine.

For the four in ten Americans who still support him, that is the point of Trump’s presidency: to pretend the modern world — with its changing climate and demographics, relaxed gender norms, declining religiosity, global supply chains and devaluation of manual labor — doesn’t exist. Read more

Trump Drives European Allies into Arms of China and Russia

British prime minister Theresa May and American president Donald Trump speak in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, January 27
British prime minister Theresa May and American president Donald Trump speak in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, January 27 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Jay Allen)

European allies warned Donald Trump he could drive them into the arms of China and Russia if he decertified the Iran nuclear deal — and that is exactly what’s happening.

In a rare joint statement, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom reiterate their commitment to the 2015 agreement:

The nuclear deal was the culmination of thirteen years of diplomacy and was a major step toward ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program is not diverted for military purposes.

European foreign-policy coordinator Federica Mogherini is even more adamant:

The deal has prevented, continues to prevent and will continue to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Trump nevertheless refuses to confirm Iran’s compliance and has threatened to withdraw from the agreement altogether unless it is somehow improved.

China and Russia, the other two signatories, have made common cause with the Europeans, virtually isolating the United States. Only Israel and the Arab Gulf states support Trump. Read more

Trump Leaves Iran Nuclear Deal in Limbo

American president Donald Trump speaks with his defense secretary, James Mattis, outside the Pentagon in Washington DC, January 27
American president Donald Trump speaks with his defense secretary, James Mattis, outside the Pentagon in Washington DC, January 27 (DoD/Jette Carr)

Count on Donald Trump to find a worse way than outright cancel the Iran nuclear deal.

The American president announced on Friday that he will no longer certify Iran’s compliance with the agreement but not withdraw from it either.

The compromise is unlikely to please Iran, which has kept its end of the bargain, nor other world powers, which want to keep the deal in place. Read more

Trump Declares War on Republicans. Will Republicans Fight Back?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

Now that Donald Trump’s Rasputin, Steve Bannon, has declared open season on Republicans, will the party finally see its president for the saboteur he is?

Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan report for Axios that Bannon is recruiting right-wing primary challengers against every incumbent Republican senator running for reelection next year except Ted Cruz. He told Fox News: “Nobody’s safe. We’re coming after all of them.”

Opposing the leadership of Trump critic Mitch McConnell is “a de facto litmus test in Bannon’s recruitment.”

Allen and Swan conclude:

If Bannon were to field the slate he envisions, the Republican Party would have a civil war on its hands that makes 2010 look like a tea party.

Read more

Trump Would Let Democratic Voters Pay for His Tax Cuts

American president Donald Trump listens to a speech outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, July 12
American president Donald Trump listens to a speech outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, July 12 (DoD/Dominique A. Pineiro)

It’s not hard to characterize American president Donald Trump’s tax plan as taking from the poor and giving to the rich. That’s what it does.

But it’s more insidious than that: the reforms would specifically hurt Democratic voters.

Megan McArdle writes for Bloomberg View that the plan (such as it is; many details have yet to be filled in) would punish two groups:

  1. The lowest-income Americans, who see their marginal tax rate go up from 10 to 12 percent and only get a small increase in the standard deduction in return; and
  2. Upper-middle-class professionals in high-taxed blue states, who get creamed by the loss of their deduction for state and local taxes. Read more