“Please stop smiling,” I politely asked Barack Obama as I passed him in Boston’s airport.
It wasn’t just any smile. It was that infectious, magical grin that helped him deflate the Clinton machine and win the White House as a novice senator, a smile full of charm and promise that we didn’t see all that often after 2008.
.. As TMZ put it Friday, when it published pictures of Obama grinning and golfing at St. Andrews in Scotland: “Barack Obama’s not just on vacation — he’s on the most EPIC vacay, and it’s starting to feel like he’s rubbing it in your face.”
.. It looks like the three happiest guys in a jangled, coarsened, belligerent, riven country are Barack Obama, George W. Bush and John Boehner.
.. At a recent Texas Rangers game, there was W., playfully photobombing a Fox Sports reporter doing her standup. And at an energy conference in Houston Wednesday, “Drunk-on-Life” Boehner, as Vanity Fair dubs him, gushed, “I wake up every day, drink my morning coffee and say, ‘Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.’”
.. Trump thinks the way to represent America is with a caricature of strength, without understanding it comes across as weakness and boorishness. Even with the weightiest job in the world, he can’t seem to mature beyond the schoolyard bully. Where are you, Melania, anti-bullying spokeswoman and Donald-hand-slapper?
.. Things have gotten into such dangerous territory with verbal and physical violence that in Montana Greg Gianforte body-slammed a reporter hours before winning a House seat, and Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, watched as his security goons roughed up protesters in front of the Turkish Embassy during his recent visit here. And that brings us to Trump’s strange love of dictators.
.. “every time something like Montana happens, Republicans adjust their standards and put an emphasis on team loyalty. They normalize and accept previously unacceptable behavior.”
.. never before have allies had pre-emptive plans on how to counteract an American president’s handshake. Trump’s are more like dominance tests than greetings. First Justin Trudeau in Washington and then Emmanuel Macron in Brussels prepared to out-grip him on his patented “I’ll-rip-your-shoulder-out-and-show-you-who’s-boss” handshake.
.. Donald Trump is not a tough guy. He’s a faux tough guy. That is not even in the American tradition. All of our famously tough icons, on screen and in life, were able to exude strength without using brute force. And they did it while standing up for people, not smacking them down.