There have been some constants in Donald Trump’s otherwise haphazard foreign policy. He will invariably side with Russia and against America’s allies in Europe. He sympathizes more with authoritarian regimes than democracies. He doesn’t believe in multilateralism or free trade.
Anything the president’s advisors or allies can portray as a show of “strength” Trump will support.
Anything his supporters in the Republican Party or the conservative media portray as “weakness”, whether it is consultations, compromises or concessions, Trump will resist.
First coronavirus itself was going to kill the EU. Now we are told the bloc’s fate was sealed in the first weeks of the outbreak, when creditworthy nations in the north refused to pool their debts with crisis-struck Italy and Spain.
Ulrich Speck, one of Germany’s top foreign-policy analysts, cautioned against jumping to conclusions:
With the corona crisis we see the return of a slightly hysterical discourse about the EU: if X, Y and Z do not immediately happen, the EU will be dead. We should have learned during the crises of the last years that the EU rests on quite solid foundations.
The outbreak of coronavirus disease in the United States has, if little else, given us an encapsulation of Trumpism.
As Patrick Chovanec of Columbia University puts it on Twitter:
According to the president, he has absolute power but absolutely no responsibility.
On Monday, Donald Trump falsely claimed he, not governors, have the power to impose and lift restrictions to contain the spread of the virus:
When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s got to be.
Yet when he was asked earlier this month why he hadn’t issued a nationwide stay-at-home order, Trump did remember, “We have a thing called the Constitution,” and said, “I want the governors to be running things.”
Which was accurate, but also an abdication of duty. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez regularly consult with the leaders of German and Spanish states to coordinate the closing and reopening of businesses and schools, even though that is not strictly their responsibility. Trump could have done the same.
Now some neighboring states opposite policies in place and they are bidding against each other, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for medical devices and gear. Trump could have federalized the procurement of medical equipment, but didn’t. He could have distributed medical equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile to the states that need it most, but didn’t.
He has found time to criticize Democratic governors, including Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Andrew Cuomo of New York, from their handling of the crisis.
Bernie Sanders has ended his bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in the United States.
It’s the right decision.
Sanders had virtually no chance of defeating former vice president Joe Biden anymore. Prolonging the contest would only delay the reconciliation of Sanders’ supporters with a Biden candidacy and make it harder for Democrats to decide whether to vote at all amid the outbreak of coronavirus. Read more “Sanders Is Right to Quit”
If Italians and Spaniards are under the impression that the Netherlands is refusing to help them cope with the impact of coronavirus disease, their own leaders share the blame with the Dutch’s lack of tact.
In a crisis, calls to do something, quickly, can be hard to resist. Politicians must still try.
On both sides of the Atlantic, governments are planning some of the largest peacetime interventions in the private economy to cope with the outbreak of coronavirus disease.
Familiar battle lines have been drawn in Europe, where conservative northern countries, led by Germany and the Netherlands, hesitate to free up EU funds for the crisis.
The roles are reversed in America, where once fiscally prudent Republicans are trying to rush through a stimulus twice the size of Barack Obama’s, and Democrats, who traditionally support a larger role for government, are stepping on the brakes.
The New York Times asked 93 of the 771 Democratic Party officials who will be automatically seated at the convention in July — the so-called “superdelegates” — if they would vote for Bernie Sanders if the socialist emerged with a plurality, but not a majority, of the pledged delegates.
Only nine said they would.
Sanders’ supporters are predictably up in arms, arguing the party “establishment” is conspiring to overturn “the will of the people”.
Some are threatening to sit out the election in November if their man doesn’t prevail.
Democrats in the United States need to rethink how they elect their presidential nominees.
The problem with the current system is not just that two of the first four contests are caucuses, in which few voters can and want to participate; the first two states, Iowa and New Hampshire, are so rural and white that they hardly represent the Democratic electorate nationwide.
Iowa’s Democrats needed days to tabulate their votes this year, undermining confidence in the process. Nevada’s did better, but they still needed a full day to incorporate the results of four days of early ranked-choice voting into the outcome of the in-person caucuses.
The result: talented politicians of color, notably Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, felt they had to end their presidential bids before the first votes were even cast. Center-left candidates with little chance of winning the nomination, such Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, did reasonably well in Iowa and New Hampshire and are now making it harder for more viable moderates to break out.
By the time eighteen states and territories will have voted next week, on Super Tuesday, and 1,499 of the 1,991 delegates needed to win the nomination will have been allocated, the socialist Bernie Sanders, the top choice of one in four Democrats nationally, could be close to unbeatable.
After the New Hampshire primary, I argued it was too soon for center-left Democrats to panic about a possible Bernie Sanders nomination. Now that it looks like the self-described socialist will walk away with at least half of Nevada’s delegates, it’s time for his opponents to worry.
Unlike Republicans, Democrats don’t award their delegates to whoever receives the most votes in a given state. So there is little risk of Sanders winning a majority of the delegates to the national convention in July against two or three opponents, like Donald Trump was able to prevail with 45 percent support against Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Marco Rubio in 2016.