Week's End Thoughts & Reflections, April 21, 2018
To say that I am no fan of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is to understate by a factor of several. The best that can be said of her is that she is as good as we can expect from the Trump regime. In the spirit of her colleagues Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency and Mick Mulvaney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, she has publicly expressed disdain for the UN and touted her relationship with that sterling exemplar of diplomacy John Bolton (Eliana Johnson and Burgess Everett, Haley sets a red line for Trump, Politico, April 18, 2018). Colum Lynch provides a balanced account of credit due her performance and criticism in a recent article in Foreign Policy (Candidate Haley: The portrait that emerges is of a retail politician turning U.N. diplomacy into a ticket to the White House.). Lynch reports speculation that she is positioning herself for a run for higher office in 2020 or 2024. Heaven forfend.
With all that duly noted, we give credit where credit is due. Haley earned a salute this week after the regime hung her out to dry over the little matter of additional Russian sanctions in response to the the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons. In case you missed it, in a Sunday appearance on Face the Nation she said that new sanctions would be forthcoming on Monday. The president, as is his wont, reversed course Sunday night. On Tuesday Trump's lackey Larry Kudlow told reporters that Haley "got out ahead of the curve" and "there might have been momentary confusion." To which Haley issued a rejoinder that ranks as a minor classic: "With all due respect, I don't get confused."
Speaking of classics, public radio icon Carl Kassel passed away Tuesday at 84 from complications from Alzheimer's disease (NPR Newscaster Carl Kasell Dies At 84, After A Lifelong Career On-Air). During Kassel's final episode on Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me in 2014, host Peter Sagal told the audience they wanted to send Carl out by simply doing a good radio show. At this Kassel piped up, deadpan as ever, "Why start now, Peter?"
James Comey did himself and his cause no service with his personal digs at the president in his book and on the tour promoting it. Conservatives such as David Brooks, Rich Lowry, and others who have read the book testified that snide remarks about the hair, skin color, size of the hands, &c., are a negligible part of the book and in any case quite mild by comparison with what routinely spews from the presidential Twitter feed and passes for oratory. To be fair to Comey, and even to Marco Rubio back during the 2016 primaries, even the elitist, "fake news" liberal, subversive, commie, antifa-loving, mainstream media tends to give Trump a pass while harpooning his adversaries who are not as much home in the gutter as he is. Nonetheless, this stuff distracts from the message.
Is it possible that the president has blustered us to the brink of accommodation with North Korea? I suspect that what we have here is two men with dubious haircuts each convinced that he can outwit the other. The play to come could be good for laughs if the stakes were not so high.
From Olivier Todd's biography of Albert Camus comes this depiction of Camus's philosophy teacher Jean Grenier: "The tight-fisted Grenier had an existential difficulty paying for a round of drinks." I have known people like that. I may at times have been one of them.