Without question, President Trump’s Catskills roast of a Montana rally on July 5 was a gasp-worthy disaster. Still, it was, as we used to say as kids, just more of the “same old, same old.” An hour-long rant that mixed the greatest hits from his racist and xenophobic campaign for the White House with some flecks of new material. What has changed is the heightened atmosphere of danger in which he delivered them 18 months into his presidency.
Monday night, before a national audience, the president is expected to hand a rose to his second nominee to the Supreme Court. The retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the court’s swing vote, gives Trump the chance to give conservatives the majority they worked decades to achieve. And that will give them a chance to take a sledgehammer to rights they abhor, from abortion to same-sex marriage.
The nation remains appalled by Trump’s morally bankrupt “zero-tolerance” policy, which separated migrant children from their parents at the border and set up jails for babies. Now that his feckless administration is under court order to reunite the children with their parents, its sheer incompetence is plain for all to see. Just when you thought the callous disregard for these children couldn’t get any worse, the New York Times reported last week that “records linking children to their parents have disappeared, and in some cases have been destroyed.” And don’t forget that the Trump administration is going after naturalized U.S. citizens now, too.
The continual race-tinged language on the stump and from the Oval Office, from a president of the United States who tends his base like a helicopter parent, is seemingly emboldening certain folks to act out. Thanks to social media, we know about “BBQ Becky” and “Permit Patty.” Last week, “ID Adam” joined their ranks when he called the cops on a fellow resident in Winston-Salem, N.C., after asking her to show identification to use their neighborhood pool.
These incidents have shown how mundane acts of life take on a new complexion when done “while black.” The Post’s Cleve R. Wootson Jr., reporting on the incident at Yale University where a white student called campus cops on an African American student napping while studying, provided a handy list back in May.
Other entrants include: couponing while black, graduating too boisterously while black, waiting for a school bus while black, throwing a kindergarten temper tantrum while black, drinking iced tea while black, waiting at Starbucks while black, AirBnB’ing while black, shopping for underwear while black, having a loud conversation while black, golfing too slowly while black, buying clothes at Barney’s while black, or Macy’s, or Nordstrom Rack, getting locked out of your own home while black, going to the gym while black, asking for the Waffle House corporate number while black and reading C.S. Lewis while black, among others.
On the global stage, Trump continues to diminish America’s standing around the world by berating our allies and thinking Russian President Vladimir Putin is his friend. Remember the contentious Group of Seven meeting in Canada last month? The one that produced the iconic photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Trump staring each other down over his balking at signing the summit communique as other leaders watched? Well, Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer told “CBS This Morning” that after Trump agreed to sign, “He stood up, he put his hand in his suit jacket pocket and he took two Starburst candies out, threw them on the table, and said to Merkel, ‘Here, Angela, don’t say I never give you anything.’ ” And that was before Trump got into a spat with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over trade and withdrew the United States from the G-7 joint statement.
Meanwhile, “troubling” doesn’t even begin to describe the Post story over the weekend about how Trump views Putin. According to U.S. officials, former national security adviser H.R. McMaster complained, “The president thinks he can be friends with Putin.” The report goes on to note this:
Some White House officials worry that Putin, who has held several calls with Trump, plays on the president’s inexperience and lack of detailed knowledge about issues while stoking Trump’s grievances.
The Russian president complains to Trump about “fake news” and laments that the U.S. foreign policy establishment — the “deep state,” in Putin’s words — is conspiring against them, the first senior U.S. official said. …
With Putin, Trump takes a more conciliatory approach, often treating the Russian leader as a confidant.
“So what do you think I should do about North Korea?” he asked Putin in their November 2017 telephone call, according to U.S. officials. Some of those officials saw the request for advice as naive — a sign that Trump believes the two countries are partners in the effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
Over the weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got the rude awakening the rest of us saw coming a mile away. At the June 12 summit in Singapore, Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed a joint statement in which Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” After talks in Pyongyang on July 6, the North Korean foreign ministry blasted the United States. “The U.S. side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” the statement read.
Surely I’m not the only one who knew that “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” meant North and South Korea to Kim.
All of this chaos swirling at home and abroad was the backdrop for the president’s Montana rally last week. That’s why Trump’s run-of-the-mill rhetorical dumpster fire is rightly viewed as an out-of-control inferno by everyone except those braying in the crowd in Great Falls or those averting their complicit eyes on Capitol Hill.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj
Subscribe to Cape Up, Jonathan Capehart’s weekly podcast