The New Yorker
- David Remnick
The Unwinding of Donald Trump ...
It’s unlikely that anyone remembers that moment in Blue Ash—a moment that would be an enduring stain on any other President—and the reason is obvious: Trump’s penchant for bald deception and incoherence is not an aberration. It is his daily practice. The vague sense of torpor and gloom that so many Americans have shouldered these past two years derives precisely from the constancy of Trump’s galling statements and actions.
Trump’s performances in Europe, and now in Washington, clarified nothing. They only raised dark suspicions and aroused the sickening feeling that we are living in the pages of the most lurid espionage novel ever written. Robert Mueller and his investigators may never get to the end of the mysteries that they are exploring. They may never get to the end of the myriad corruptions, furtive connections, and double-dealings. But the collection of guilty pleas and indictments that have resulted are not to be dismissed.
Over and over, Trump has said that it’s a “good thing, not a bad thing” that the United States has a “good relationship” with Putin. And it is true that American Presidents have always met with adversaries. George Bush and Barack Obama both had the pleasure, on repeated occasions, of Putin’s acquaintance. But summit meetings are not a matter of exchanging friendship rings. They are matters of asserting and arguing interests, in finding hard-fought areas of agreement and progress; they demand patient preparation (which Trump refuses) and principle (which Trump lacks). Anything less courts confusion, misunderstanding, and even disaster. That was true in Singapore, and it was true in Helsinki.
At the press conference in Helsinki, Trump proved himself, at best, a heedless amateur, blind to the bogus arguments and offers being made by a shrewd adversary. “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today, and what he did is an incredible offer,” Trump said. “He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the twelve [Russian intelligence officers who were indicted by Mueller]. I think that’s an incredible offer.” Incredible is the word, and not just for the offer. Trump’s incredible journey to Europe was an act contrary to the interests of his country. Now we will see who, particularly in the Republican Party, will stand up not to applaud the Great Leader but to find the capacity to say what is obvious and what is true.
Democracy is a garden that has to be tended. -Barack Obama