It’s almost as if Trump is determined to destroy the Republican Party

Let me summarize the Republican platform for the coming election:

  • We are the party of white racial grievance. We believe
  • those marching in Black Lives Matter protests are “thugs.”
  • We see the term “systemic racism” as an unfair attack on white people.
  • We support keeping Confederate monuments on their pedestals, and
  • we have no idea why anyone would consider Confederate flags a problem.
  • We are equal-opportunity racists.
  • We see Latino immigrants as “bad hombres.” And
  • we believe that using the racist term “kung flu” to describe covid-19 is hilarious, not least because
  • we are convinced the covid-19 pandemic is basically over, anyway.
  • Who cares what pointy-headed “experts” might say — we know in our hearts that patriotic Americans don’t wear masks.

Those are some of the views Republicans endorse by uncritically embracing and supporting President Trump. He is leading his party down a sewer of unabashed racism and willful ignorance, and all who follow him — and I mean all — deserve to feel the mighty wrath of voters in November.

I’m talking to you, Sen.

  • Susan Collins of Maine. And you, Sen.
  • Cory Gardner of Colorado. And you, Sens.
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina,
  • Martha McSally of Arizona,
  • Joni Ernst of Iowa,
  • Steve Daines of Montana,
  • Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and
  • John Cornyn of Texas.

And while those of you in deep-red states whose reelection ordinarily would be seen as a mere formality may not see the giant millstones you’ve hung around your necks as a real risk, think again. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina and even Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, you should look at the numbers and realize you are putting your Senate seats — and the slim GOP majority — in dire jeopardy.

You can run and hide from reporters asking you about Trump’s latest statements or tweets. You can pretend not to hear shouted questions as you hurry down Capitol hallways. You can take out your cellphones and feign being engrossed in a terribly important call. Ultimately, you’re going to have to answer to voters — and in the meantime you have decided to let Trump speak for you. Best of luck with that.

It is not really surprising that Trump, with his poll numbers falling and his reelection in serious jeopardy, would decide to use race and public health as wedge issues to inflame his loyal base. That’s all he knows how to do.

Most politicians would see plunging poll numbers as a warning to try a different approach; Trump takes them as a sign to do more of the same — more race-baiting, more authoritarian “law and order” posturing, more see-no-evil denial of a raging pandemic that has cost more than 120,000 American lives.

Racism is a feature of the Trump shtick, not a bug. He sees the nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd as an opportunity not for healing and reform, but to stir anger and resentment among his overwhelmingly white voting base. Trump wants no part of the reckoning with history the country seems to crave.

This week, city officials in Charleston, S.C. — the place where the Civil War began — took down a statue of John C. Calhoun, a leading 19th-century politician and fierce defender of slavery, from its 115-foot column in Marion Square and hauled it away to a warehouse. Also this week, Trump reportedly demanded that the District’s monument to Confederate Gen. Albert Pike, toppled last week by protesters, be cleaned up and reinstalled exactly as it was.

Trump went to Arizona not just to falsely claim great progress on building his promised border wall, intended to keep out the “hombres,” but also to delight fervent young supporters by referring to covid-19 as “kung flu.” Weeks ago, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said that racist term was clearly offensive and unacceptable. But since Trump has made it into a red-meat applause line, Conway now apparently thinks it’s a perfectly legitimate way to identify the virus’s country of origin.

All the other Republicans who fail to speak up while Trump runs the most nakedly racist presidential campaign since George Wallace in 1968 shouldn’t kid themselves. Their silence amounts to agreement. Perhaps there’s enough white bitterness out there to carry the Republican Party to another narrow win. But that’s not what the polls say.

Trump’s antics are self-defeating. He’ll put on a racist show for a shrinking audience, but he won’t wear the masks that could allow the economic reopening he desperately wants. He may be able to avoid reality, but the Republican governors — including Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida — scrambling desperately to contain new outbreaks cannot.

It’s almost as though Trump is determined to destroy the Republican Party. Let’s give him his wish.

The Rush of Seeing Harvey Weinstein’s Perp Walk

One day in March of 2015, Weinstein invited the model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez to his office for a morning meeting

.. To see Weinstein turn himself in on Friday at the same precinct where Gutierrez made her report, in the same neighborhood where he caused so many women anguish and pain, was simply cathartic.

.. For all the handwringing about the mob power of #MeToo, the fact is that most men who have assaulted women will not face criminal charges for doing so.

.. Weinstein had spent time hiding out in Arizona.

.. the news elicited a response similar to the “galvanizing shock” produced in April, when Bill Cosby was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault.

.. is mouth alternated between a grimace and a smirk.

.. Entering the precinct, Weinstein was a spectacle of smugness, as if trying to project the posture of an intellectual dissident.

.. In his hands were three books, two of which have been identified. They were corny totems suggesting, respectively, artistic revolution and false persecution: Todd Purdum’s “Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution,” and Richard Schickel’s biography of Elia Kazan, the Hollywood director who famously “named names” to the House Un-American Activities Committee, in 1952.

.. After he turned himself in, Weinstein was made to do a perp walk, the queasy practice meant to emasculate the suspect and flex the prosecutor’s power.

It is a public humiliation, a feast for the kinds of New York tabloids that Weinstein himself once manipulated so ruthlessly.

.. The books he walked in with had vanished. With his head hung low, Weinstein looked small, insignificant.

.. In the Manhattan Supreme Court, prosecutors charged him with two counts of rape and one count of a criminal sexual act.

.. He surrendered his passport and was released on bail

.. “Will the sight of Harvey Weinstein in handcuffs encourage more women to come forward/press charges?”

The other risk from Trump’s talks with North Korea

The fact is, establishing the outlines of a “grand bargain” has never been the hard part. Indeed, the George W. Bush administration negotiated a joint statement in 2005 containing some of the key elements. The hard part has always been nailing down the specifics and enforcing them. Trump and Kim would just leave that to their respective teams, a process that would inevitably involve years of motion with little movement, and ample opportunities for deadlock, breakdown and North Korean cheating.

..  Trump’s supporters, starting with Fox News, would rapturously applaud the outcome, without pausing to remember that they relentlessly attacked President Barack Obama for far more rigorous agreements. Trump’s critics would undoubtedly temper their opposition, because the alternative is catastrophic war. And while Bolton would hate this approach under a different president, he may like the politics of it for Trump for now — and figure that he can press for military action later.

But here’s the rub: There is a real risk that this kind of outcome would work much more to Pyongyang’s advantage than Washington’s.

.. Our partners would take their foot off the sanctions gas, even if our concessions were meant to come later. After a grand, but premature, Trump announcement that he has “solved” the North Korea nuclear issue, South Korea would naturally accelerate its engagement with the North, including its economic ties. China, fearing that U.S.-North Korean engagement would weaken its hand, would scramble (even more than it already has) to offer incentives to increase Beijing’s influence with Kim.

.. we might not even get the full benefits of a freeze on North Korea’s capability. We know North Korea has a history of promising big and then working in secret to advance its program.

.. And since the Trump administration has deliberately degraded our diplomatic capacity and nonproliferation expertise — and Trump won’t be paying attention to what happens after the cameras are turned off —  Pyongyang would enjoy an advantage in the period following a summit.

.. North Korea, in this scenario, would be implementing a new version of its old playbook: Make a series of promises in exchange for economic breathing room — and break them later. This could easily raise the risk of war in the medium term.

.. It’s an argument against approaching the summit with politics and pageantry in mind, rather than hardheaded practical concerns.

.. Congress should press Mike Pompeo during his confirmation hearing for secretary of state to acknowledge these risks and account for how he would intend to deal with them

.. Trump won’t be thinking about the risks, only about the political reward. It is up to the rest of us to hold him accountable to deal with the reality

Kim Jong Un won’t give up his nukes. Trump should meet with him, anyway.

If the president takes a careful approach, a meeting with North Korea’s leader could pay dividends.

 .. But less than a day after the announcement, there were already conflicting statements on what obstacles would have to be overcome to make the meeting happen. And the key deal points of any potential breakthrough .. haven’t changed in years: We want them to abandon nuclear weapons; they want us to pull our troops out of South Korea.
 .. If he goes through with this, though, the president must treat it as the first step in a painstaking diplomatic project, not a self-aggrandizing photo op.
.. In just over a year as president, Trump has taken us, and our South Korean allies, on a diplomatic roller-coaster ride: from the president’s August “fire and fury” remark, to his October “Little Rocket Man” tweet, to February’s announcement of new sanctions, to Thursday night’s bang-bang North Korean offer (delivered by South Korean envoys) and Trump’s acceptance.
.. He’d have us believe that he’s been playing 3-D chess all along, making moves no one else could even conceive of. But North Korean leaders have always craved the prestige that would come along with a bilateral face-to-face between their leader and an American president
.. the president has to avoid derailing the process with inflammatory statements and premature chest-thumping, something he hasn’t always resisted. He needs a serious, experienced negotiating team that includes experts outside his inner circle. Trump fancies himself a negotiator nonpareil. But from firsthand experience, we can tell him that North Korea’s negotiators are well briefed and highly attuned. If you use a wrong word in a verbal exchange, negotiations can take a major detour. Caution is essential at every step.
.. “There is a saying in my country: it takes 100 hacks to take down a tree.” The North Koreans negotiate with patience and deliberation, something Trump must take into account.
.. If he doesn’t want to end up looking like Kim outmaneuvered him, Trump must be prepared to slowly and carefully hammer out a realistic strategy with realistic aims, such as an eventual long-term agreement with strong verification standards and oversight. Before he can do that, here’s what he should consider:
.. First, he needs to come up with some new carrots and sticks. He’s used sanctions as a stick, and he’s already given up the best carrot he had: the promise of a meeting, head of state to head of state.

.. Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated Friday that Trump has made “zero concessions,” but agreeing to meet is a concession. Unless he plans to up the ante by inviting Kim out to Mar-a-Lago for golf in the spring, the president will need a new giveaway that he can dangle in front of Kim... Second, Trump must understand that the North Koreans are not offering to denuclearize. They see their weapons capability as the only thing standing between them and regime change. They’re offering to halt their nuclear and missile programs, but not to disarm their existing arsenal — that’s been their position for years now, and Trump’s goal of reversing the Iran deal has only hardened North Korea’s stanceWe can’t even trust an agreement the Americans have already signed, so giving up all our nukes wouldn’t be prudent.

.. Third, Trump must also be clear that what the North Koreans still want, as part of any deal, is the withdrawal of our roughly 38,000 troops from the Korean Peninsula.

.. The deal that’s on the table now, and has been for a while, is: that

  • the North Koreans will halt their nuclear and missile programs and would allow implementation of a verification regime. In return,
  • the United States would withdraw some military assets, ease economic restrictions and sign a treaty declaring a formal end to the war

..  in exchange for an increased flow of resources — food, fuel, technology — to North Korea from South Korea, China and Japan.

.. Trump routinely shoots from the hip. With the North Koreans, that’s a bad idea. He needs to be serious, worry more about what this means for American security and worry less about making himself look good.

Fraudulence of the Fiscal Hawks

In 2011, House Republicans, led by Paul Ryan, issued a report full of dire warnings about the dangers of budget deficits.

.. Citing the horrors of big deficits, Republicans refused to raise the federal debt ceiling

.. How big were these horrifying deficits? In the 2012 fiscal year the federal deficit was $1.09 trillion. Much of this deficit, however, was a direct result of a depressed economy

.. If anything, we should be using this time of relatively full employment to pay down debt, or at least reduce it relative to G.D.P.

.. They are providing more stimulus to an economy with 4 percent unemployment than they were willing to allow an economy with 8 percent unemployment.

.. Republicans weren’t just vehemently opposed to fiscal stimulus; they were also vehemently opposed to monetary stimulus. Basically, they were against anything that might help the economy on President Obama’s watch.

.. imposing austerity in a depressed economy, then running up the deficit when we’re already near full employment

My Kid’s First Lesson in Realpolitik

If you examine him through the lens of playground politics, you will recognize Mr. Trump as a thin-skinned bully who seems incapable of stomaching criticism or opposition. At the same time, he postures as a victim, vacillating between venomous outcries at his foes and the desperate need for validation from his fans.

.. The problem with America — Mr. Trump’s playground — is that we’ve developed an insular, conflict-averse culture. The president’s trolling is so effective, in part, because many of us have not learned how to deal with interpersonal conflict, starting with the playground. We must learn to defend ourselves so that when Donald Trump or any other bully taunts us, we can rise to the occasion.

.. One of the earliest lessons you learn at school is about the boundless cruelty of other children. And that bullies can win. Yet contrary to these early playground lessons in realpolitik, children are consistently taught to avoid conflict by well-meaning parents, teachers and caregivers because that’s how we want the world to work.

.. I don’t want her to lose it when somebody like Donald Trump is elected. More than anything, I want her to be able to defend herself and fight back.

.. I want my daughter to learn to say no confidently and unapologetically. Dealing with conflict is also about standing up for yourself as a woman, whether a man is talking over you at a meeting or trying to engage in unwanted sexual behavior. If we learn early how to have difficult or uncomfortable conversations up front, we don’t need others to fill in the gaps, make our decisions or read our minds. But if we can’t stand up to conflict, we risk becoming the snowflakes that the Donald Trumps and the wagging tongues on the right make us out to be.

Trump, Neo-Nazis and the Klan

He did not come to the White House with any moral authority. And unlike some other presidents, such as J.F.K. and Ronald Reagan, he did not embody our aspirations.

He was simply a rough instrument to smash the capital. Republican nihilism and Democratic neglect and arrogance had bred a virulent strain of nihilism in the electorate. Many voters wanted to tear down the house.

There will be a lot of pain while this president is in office and the clock will turn back on many things. But we will come out stronger, once this last shriek of white supremacy and grievance and fear of the future is out of the system. Every day, President Trump teaches us what values we cherish — and they’re the opposite of his.

.. When Trump buoyed the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis who had marched in Charlottesville with Tiki torches, Confederate flags, Nazi slogans, swastikas and banners reading “Jews will not replace us” — even as one of their leaders told a Vice News reporter how disgusting it was that Trump’s “beautiful” blond daughter was married to a Jewish man— the president made it clear which category he is in.

.. For all the things he thinks make him a tough guy — his macho posturing, his Twitter bullying, his swaggering and leering talk, his vulgar references to his anatomy — he’s no tough guy if he can’t stand up to the scum of the earth.