Thursday, August 10, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He thanked Vladimir Putin for expelling diplomats from the US embassy in Moscow, saying:
“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down on payroll, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people, because now we have a smaller payroll. There’s no real reason for them to go back. So I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’ll save a lot of money.”
Trump's tone was ambiguous. This is the sort of statement that Trump has, in the past, tried to claim after the fact was a joke. At least as of Thursday, his White House spokesperson was unwilling (and so probably unable) to say one way or the other whether Trump was serious.

The Putin regime, which intervened in the 2016 election to help Trump win, is retaliating against Obama-era sanctions by forcing the United States to reduce its Moscow embassy staff by 755 people, or more than half its current staffing. Many of these will be Russians in clerical or support positions, but some will be Americans who will be forced to return to the United States (with their families). But they will return to other duties (possibly at the desperately understaffed State Department) and so will not save the United States any money.

Trump has long been starstruck by the Russian leader, even before Putin intervened to help make him president. Typical of his usual approach to Putin, Trump defended him against charges of political murder by saying, "At least he's a leader... You think our country's so innocent?" Trump, who has insulted almost everyone who has ever crossed his path, including the United States' closest allies, appears never to have even hinted at any kind of criticism of Putin.

Why is this a bad thing?

  • A president who is psychologically incapable of finding fault with a dictator hostile to the United States cannot do his job.
  • American diplomatic personnel and their families are not inconveniences that a president should be glad to be rid of.