Trump’s racist Cummings attack

In its response to Donald Trump’s racist attack on congressman Elijah Cummings, the editorial board of the Baltimore Sun said it “would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner”.

But it did enumerate some of the president’s failings in office and liken him to a creature he said “infested” Cummings’ congressional district: a rat.

“We,” the board wrote, “would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are ‘good people’ among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity.

“Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.”

The editorial was one of a number of powerful and widely shared responses to Trump’s attack on Cummings, including an emotional address to camera by Victor Blackwell, a weekend CNN anchor.

Trump attacked the House oversight chairman, a powerful political foe, early on Saturday morning. Without offering evidence, he accused him of neglecting his district, Maryland’s seventh, and of unspecified corruption which the president said should be investigated. He returned to the theme on Sunday, broadening the attack to House speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California representative but also a Maryland native.

The attack on Cummings, who is African American, struck a familiar note, coming two weeks after Trump told four non-white Democratic congresswomen to “go back” to the places they came from, regardless of the fact three were born in the US and all are American citizens.

Read the complete article on The Guardian newspaper here.

Donald Trump has no grasp of what it means to be president

DEFENDERS of President Donald Trump offer two arguments in his favour—that he is a businessman who will curb the excesses of the state; and that he will help America stand tall again by demolishing the politically correct taboos of left-leaning, establishment elites. From the start, these arguments looked like wishful thinking. After Mr Trump’s press conference in New York on August 15th they lie in ruins.

The unscripted remarks were his third attempt to deal with violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend (see article). In them the president stepped back from Monday’s—scripted—condemnation of the white supremacists who had marched to protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general, and fought with counter-demonstrators, including some from the left. In New York, as his new chief of staff looked on dejected, Mr Trump let rip, stressing once again that there was blame “on both sides”. He left no doubt which of those sides lies closer to his heart.

Far from being the saviour of the Republic, their president is politically inept, morally barren and temperamentally unfit for office.

Self-harm

Start with the ineptness. In last year’s presidential election Mr Trump campaigned against the political class to devastating effect. Yet this week he has bungled the simplest of political tests: finding a way to condemn Nazis. Having equivocated at his first press conference on Saturday, Mr Trump said what was needed on Monday and then undid all his good work on Tuesday—briefly uniting Fox News and Mother Jones in their criticism, surely a first. As business leaders started to resign enmasse from his advisory panels, the White House disbanded them. Mr Trump did, however, earn the endorsement of David Duke, a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Mr Trump’s inept politics stem from a moral failure. Some counter-demonstrators were indeed violent, and Mr Trump could have included harsh words against them somewhere in his remarks. But to equate the protest and the counter-protest reveals his shallowness. Video footage shows marchers carrying fascist banners, waving torches, brandishing sticks and shields, chanting “Jews will not replace us”. Footage of the counter-demonstration mostly shows average citizens shouting down their opponents. And they were right to do so: white supremacists and neo-Nazis yearn for a society based on race, which America fought a world war to prevent. Mr Trump’s seemingly heartfelt defence of those marching to defend Confederate statues spoke to the degree to which white grievance and angry, sour nostalgia is part of his world view.

At the root of it all is Mr Trump’s temperament. In difficult times a president has a duty to unite the nation. Mr Trump tried in Monday’s press conference, but could not sustain the effort for even 24 hours because he cannot get beyond himself. A president needs to rise above the point-scoring and to act in the national interest. Mr Trump cannot see beyond the latest slight.

An Oval Office-shaped hole

For Republicans in Congress the choice should be clearer. Many held their noses and backed Mr Trump because they thought he would advance their agenda. That deal has not paid off. Mr Trump is not a Republican, but the solo star of his own drama. By tying their fate to his, they are harming their country and their party. His boorish attempts at plain speaking serve only to poison national life. Any gains from economic reform—and the booming stockmarket and low unemployment owe more to the global economy, tech firms and dollar weakness than to him—will come at an unacceptable price.

Read the complete article on The Economist magazine web site.

Steve Bannon: Trump is ‘maniacally focused’ on executing promises

Steve Bannon’s description of the press as ‘the corporatist, globalist media’ was met with applause and whoops among the crowd at CPAC. Photograph: Mike Theiler/AFP/Getty Images

Steve Bannon’s description of the press as ‘the corporatist, globalist media’ was met with applause and whoops among the crowd at CPAC. Photograph: Mike Theiler/AFP/Getty Images

Steve Bannon, the man seen as the power behind Donald Trump’s throne, has declared that the president will take the US back from a “corporatist, globalist media” that opposes his brand of economic nationalism.

Trump is “maniacally focused” on fulfilling his campaign pledges, Bannon warned, predicting a daily fight against the media he has branded as the opposition party.

“The mainstream media ought to understand something: all those promises are going to be implemented,” Bannon told a gathering of thousands of conservatives near Washington on Thursday, who feted him and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Bannon is a liberal bete noire whose confrontational, populist brand of Republican politics also upends decades of conservative orthodoxy. He has emerged as Trump’s most powerful aide and been dubbed “Trump’s Rasputin” or, in Twitter speak, #PresidentBannon. On Thursday, he stepped out of the shadows to make rare public remarks.

“Every day is going to be a fight. That is the promise of Donald Trump … All the people who’ve came in and said you’ve got to moderate. Every day in the Oval Office he tells Reinceand I: ‘I committed this to the American people, I promised this when I ran, and I’m going to deliver on this.” The crowd at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) erupted in cheers and applause, with some delegates standing and punching the air.

It was a very rare public appearance for Bannon, 63, who cut a casual figure with a dark open-necked shirt and light beige trousers. He sat on stage alongside Priebus, in a more traditional suit and tie, as the pair made their latest attempt to bury reports of discord. “We’re basically together from 6.30 in the morning to 11 at night,” Priebus said, in adjoining offices.

But Bannon, who described his own West Wing office as the “war room”, soon launched into his attacks on the media. “If you look at the opposition party and how they portrayed the campaign, how they portrayed the transition, how they portrayed the administration, it’s always wrong.”

Bannon is a near constant presence every time cameras cover a Trump press conference or follow him into the Oval Office. He has gained a place on the “principals committee” of the National Security Council, elevating him above the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of national intelligence.

Kellyanne Conway at CPAC: ‘Women don’t like women in power’

Dan Cassino, a political scientist at Fairleigh Dickinson University, said: “It seems like we are getting his ideas coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth to a great extent.

“I think we are seeing Bannon’s influence in Israel policy: the idea we have to support a militarily strong Israel and the coexistence in the Oslo process for two decades needs to be thrown out. That tells us he has a lot of influence and he wasn’t kidding about this.”

Crucially, Cassino argues, Bannon determines what media Trump consumes and shapes his worldview. “The information flow seems to be going through Breitbart and Fox News rather than through the national security apparatus. That’s troubling. It points to the influence of Bannon and how the other people briefing him are not having influence.”

A few “Make America Great Again” caps were visible among the attendees but establishment Republican senators, congressmen and governors were relatively scarce.

The pro-Trump Breitbart News was prominent. The tone was triumphant and aggressive, championing gun ownership rights and tough law enforcement while criticising and mocking liberals.

But tensions were clear as Dan Schneider, leader of the American Conservative Union, took the stage to denounce the “alt-right”, the rebranding of the far right that has been accused of racism, Islamophobia and neo-Nazism. “There is a sinister organization that is trying to worm its way into our ranks and we must not be duped,” he told the audience. “Just a few years ago, this hate-filled leftwing fascist group hijacked the very term ‘alt-right’.

“That term, alt-right – it had been used for a long time in a very good and normal way, but this group has hijacked it. We must not allow them to be normalised. They are not part of us.”

Schneider added: “They are antisemites. They are racist. They are sexist. They hate the constitution. They hate free markets. They hate pluralism. They hate everything and despise everything we believe in.”

Read the complete article on The Guardian newspaper web site.