This week, President Trump quadrupled-down on his divisive, disgusting, and woefully inadequate comments about the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville and the death of Heather Heyer.
Can Trump think about anything other than himself and his own ego? Editorial boards across the country answered this week in a resounding “no.” From flirting to a pardon for Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to new petty feuds with Senators in his own party, to threatening a government shutdown if Congress won’t give him the money to pay for his border wall, this was a banner week for the Trump White House. What a time to be alive.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: America must openly consider Trump’s fitness for office
Big egos come with the job. But it requires the ability to set ego aside in service of the nation’s good. Trump shows few indications that he’s capable of that. He judges issues and events by whether they are good for him personally, not whether they are informed by history, reading or his staff’s advice. He escalates petty disputes into feuds — with the media, world leaders, even congressional leaders of his own party.
Raleigh News & Observer: Trump goes off the rails
In both instances, it was Trump’s reckless language – on Twitter and in person – that unnerved and angered many Americans. It also has created worries abroad about what is going on with the world’s most powerful nation and its greatest guardian of peace, democracy and freedom. While the past week brought debate about bigotry, free speech and Confederate monuments, the most important issue to emerge is that the presidency of the United States is being controlled by a man who’s out of control.
Lebanon Valley News: Monumental Errors
But it didn’t stop. Trump later returned to the same theme, noting that Washington and Jefferson owned slaves, and asking again whether their statues ought to be removed. “You are changing history, you’re changing culture,” Trump contended, although to date he has demonstrated little familiarity with or appreciation for either. That Lee and Jackson helped lead an armed rebellion against the government of a nation that Jefferson and Washington were instrumental in inventing appears not to have crossed the mind of the current president, whose own chances of getting a statue, never good, are dimming rapidly. Trump’s presidency is beginning to look very much like a monument to his own outsize ego and uncontrolled passions, which unfortunately appear to be linked to the darkest recesses of the American psyche.
San Francisco Chronicle: Studying Trump’s alt-history
Being unconstrained by actual facts, Trump’s alt-history can be read as a parable through which he enthusiastically endorses brutality, oppression and ignorance. If those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it, Trump, who hasn’t bothered to learn it, appears doomed to repeatedly make it up.
Donald Trump showed us many sides, many sides in his mishandling of Charlottesville on one day, trying to rectify the mess another day, then taking back whatever good he might have done in an unhinged news conference in which he equated Robert E. Lee, the traitor who tried to rip apart the nation, with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who created it. Southern governors confronted anew what to do with Confederate monuments. North Carolina’s Roy Cooper did the right thing. Kentucky’s Matt Bevin did not. Closer to home, Rep. Jeff Denham screwed up the, ah, courage, to denounce racism, but not the president. The congressman “left something out,” our annoyed cousins at The Modesto Bee wrote.
Boston Herald: Saying no to Sheriff Joe
Well someone might want to get the president a copy of that Justice Department report, which also found that while Sheriff Joe’s deputies were off rounding up Latinos for being, well, Latino, his department was neglecting a rising tide of violent crime.
Sheriff Joe is no hero. He’s just a grandstander with a grudge who openly defied the law and then repeatedly defied a judge’s order before voters wisely showed him the door.
A pardon would put this president on the side of racism and against the rule of law — not a good place to be.
While the addition of John Kelly as chief of staff — and H.R. McMaster before him as national security adviser — may have played a stabilizing role on White House staff, nothing we’ve seen so far convinces us that much will change. Why? The real problem is President Donald Trump.
In just the last few weeks, Trump managed to shame Attorney General Jeff Sessions publicly; tweet a transgender military ban without informing the military; and politicize a speech to Boy Scouts and then lie about a phone call from a Boy Scout leader. He made up a phone conversation with the president of Mexico over border protection. He “joked” about Vladimir Putin kicking 750 diplomats out of Russia. He waited days to sign an overwhelming bipartisan Russian sanctions bill and then complained Congress made him sign it. He “joked” about cops roughing up suspects. He threatened a possible nuclear war with North Korea. And all of that was before his offensive responses to the events in Charlottesville.
Quad-City Times: Senate Republicans must rebuke, break from Trump
President Donald Trump showed himself to be incapable of responding to crisis following this month’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump initially said nothing as armed neo-Nazis converged on the city’s park. He waffled when they clashed with counter-protesters. And he fumbled his response, ultimately declaring those who protest racial hatred are on equal moral standing with those who claim genetic racial superiority.
Anderson Herald Bulletin: Trump failed to unify nation after Charlottesville debacle
In the immediate aftermath of such a crisis, the American people depend on their president to unify the nation with heartfelt and carefully chosen words. Instead, President Donald Trump responded by blaming the violence on “many sides,” essentially inviting the world to read between the lines.
And what lies between those lines is the president’s record, extending back to before he began campaigning for the Republican nomination in 2016, of disparaging minorities and insinuating that white people deserve to regain the privileges sought by the Ku Klux Klan and other organizations.
Newark Star-Ledger: Trump agents thank Afghan who served our troops – by jailing him in N.J.
This is the human cost of Trump’s blanket immigration enforcement, and targeting people based on religion rather than the merit of their individual cases. It also hurts our troops, who depend heavily on local support on the ground. How, exactly, does this help us fight terrorism?
It’s just one more way Trump is corroding the moral authority of the United States.
Los Angeles Times: Enough is Enough
In California, the pressure is sometimes in the other direction. For instance, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), a Trump supporter who won reelection in 2016 by an extraordinarily narrow 2,348 votes, knows he needs to distance himself from Trump if he hopes to win reelection in 2018; he has done so, slowly, a bit. It would be nice if he did so on principle, but in the end, he and his colleagues may be more persuaded by Trump’s low favorability ratings and the near certainty of challenges from Democrats in the midterm election.
Men and women of conscience can no longer withhold judgment. Trump’s erratic nature and his impulsive, demagogic style endanger us all.
Akron Beacon Journal: Bannon exits. Will Trump now start winning?
A president elected so narrowly, losing the popular vote, doesn’t have a mandate for radical change. The White House would do well to expand its support. Yet Bannon, whether through actions or the internal debate, appeared most focused on the narrow core of the most ardent Trump supporters.
That isn’t good for the president or the country. Perhaps now that will change. Unfortunately, the president himself doesn’t seem to know how his presidency could find success.
Boston Globe: A peaceful rally, but a few disquieting questions linger
Saturday put the lie to a common whine of the so-called alt right — the loose movement of anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and freelance bigots emboldened by President Trump’s election — that they are somehow deprived of their free speech rights. Nonsense. If being mocked, booed, and heckled is the alt-right’s idea of censorship, it may be time to rethink who gets labeled a “snowflake” in today’s political environment.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Gorsuch’s speaking engagement undermines Supreme Court’s integrity
Some legal experts see no problem with Gorsuch’s decision. Others, such as Stanford law professor Deborah L. Rhode, take strong issue. “It just violates basic ethical principles about conflicts of interest,” she told The New York Times.
Gorsuch, who was nominated by Trump, took an oath “to administer justice without respect to persons,” and to “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon” a justice. But by appearing at the Trump hotel while it’s at the center of a constitutional battle, he establishes an unmistakable bias that undermines public trust in his, and the court’s, impartiality. Why take such a risk?
New Haven Register: Amplifying voices against bigotry
Following the deadly demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, politicians are calling out President Donald Trump for his bizarre rhetoric. The more vital response has been from people who remove politics from the discourse.
This was an opportunity for Trump at a time he desperately needed one. Perhaps only a president can provide a single response to strife that holds the power to inspire Americans, to remind them of who they are at the core.
By failing to seize this epic moment — instead equating neo-Nazis with Americans exercising their freedom of speech — Trump instead created a void.
Springfield Republican: Bannon may aid Democrats with scorched-earth efforts
The key question now: How much will things change in the Trump White House? While one can imagine a bit more order in the day to day – from all reports, Bannon was a frequently disruptive force – it’s difficult to see the president suddenly deciding not to make more early-morning trouble on Twitter. Or not to veer wildly off script when making some policy announcement. Or not to defend the indefensible – those marching with neo-Nazis and white supremacists, for example – yet again.
Arizona Republic: Donald Trump’s Phoenix rally will test him — and us
But pardoning Arpaio would permanently stain this presidency.
It would define Trump as a president who has little regard for the judicial system and less respect for the need to hold law enforcement accountable for violations of minorities’ rights.
It would be a clear insult to those who patiently used the legal system to hold an unjust sheriff accountable.
Springfield Republican: Trump’s business interests tarnished by flagging presidency
Our nation’s 45th president is so widely disliked that his mere presence would almost certainly ruin what was supposed to be a celebration of artistic achievement.
In the 40-year history of the Kennedy Center ceremonies, presidents have missed out on the gala only three times prior. Jimmy Carter took a pass in 1979 because of the Iran hostage crisis. Ten years later, George H.W. Bush was at a summit in Malta with Mikhail S. Gorbachev, then general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Bill Clinton missed the proceedings in 1994 as he traveled to a conference in Budapest.
Anniston Star: Speak up, Alabama Republicans, about Trump’s behavior
First, it’s a matter of debate if Trump’s insults, deceptions and general boorishness won him the White House. Regardless of what won him the presidency, he now occupies the White House. Yet, the office has done nothing to curb his excesses, the sort we witness almost daily on his Twitter account. They have ranged from publicly criticizing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to consistently spitting on the First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press to claiming the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower.
Los Angeles Times: Trump’s ‘new’ Afghanistan policy is more of the same
In a nationally televised speech, Trump said that U.S. strategy under his leadership will change dramatically. Yet despite the new packaging and more muscular rhetoric, much of the policy he outlined seems like more of the same: using U.S. forces to prevent the Taliban and other insurgent groups from toppling the U.S.-supported government, but with no guarantee of either a decisive victory or military gains significant enough to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.
Baltimore Sun: Afghanistan: Surging again
We applaud President Trump for listening to his advisers for once. We just wish he’d listen to people who work outside of the Pentagon as closely as he seems to listen to “his” generals. He might start with Maryland’s own Sen. Ben Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who this week called on the president to encourage a “robust diplomatic effort to advance a political solution.” That might not sound as exciting as threatening more destruction, but it sounds a lot more likely to actually achieve something meaningful in Afghanistan.
Newark Star-Ledger: By one measure, Trump keeps winning
Trump promised to donate all foreign profits at his hotels to the U.S. Treasury, because failure to do so violates the Emoluments Clause. But the Trump Organization has since decided it would be “impractical” to identify payments that its hotels received from foreign governments, so it will not track foreign profits.
And Trump issued 14 ethics waivers for 11 aides, so they can work on issues they’ve dealt with before and, ultimately, benefit from that work.
Plattsburgh Press Republican: Stand up against purveyors of hate
President Trump missed a chance to be the leader a truly great America needs. Our most revered presidents have stood up in times of crisis to inspire peace and unity.
Trump, who is so quick to fire off a Tweet at the smallest sign of personal affront, stayed silent far too long on the situation in Charlottesville, finally spoke against racism and antisemitism but then softened his stance on the protests later.
Racism and Nazi ideals should not be tolerated.
Palm Beach Post: PBC leaders must speak out against racism, bigotry
Encouragingly, we’ve seen local citizen vigils and demonstrations. We’ve witnessed an exodus of charity fundraisers from President Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in reaction to his statements giving moral equivalency to white supremacists. And we heard Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce executive director Laurel Baker seemingly put her own job at risk by urging more charities to do the same.
Tampa Bay Times: Trump’s vague, shifting strategy for Afghanistan
The one new development, aside from Trump acknowledging for once that he changed his mind in the wake of more information, was the president calling out Pakistan for giving safe haven to terrorists along its border. But he also should have insisted that Russia play a more helpful role and pledged to start filling more key positions at the State Department.
The strategy behind Trump’s troop commitment is as vague as ever. With no good options, it is a short-term play not to win in Afghanistan in the long term but to avoid losing in the short term.
Arizona Republic: If Trump wanted to unite the nation in Phoenix, he failed
A president truly committed to unity would not spend so much time attacking the media as “damned dishonest” and “fake news,” while trying to rewrite his own response to Charlottesville.
It was Trump himself who blamed “both sides” after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned deadly.
It is truly disturbing to see the president try to rewrite history and blame the messengers.
Springfield Republican: Trump looks to change subject at campaign-style rally
President Donald Trump blamed the media for his problems. He blamed the filibuster. He blamed Arizona’s senior senator – though not by name.
For more than 60 ranting, raving, often unhinged minutes, Trump shouted his message – if one can call it a message – to a boisterous crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center on Tuesday night.
The address, coming just a week after Trump went off the rails at a press conference where he equated the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who staged a deadly march in Charlottesville, Virginia, with demonstrators opposing the hate-mongers, began with a long-winded effort to clean up the mess he’d made seven days prior.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Obamacare isn’t out of the woods yet
All of these efforts do nothing but add turmoil to the health insurance market. Trump clearly wants Obamacare to fail — even though it would mean millions of Americans losing coverage and a large increase in the federal deficit. He seems to be operating under the delusion that the failure of Obamacare will make it easier for Republicans to reconcile the extreme differences among the party’s conservative and more moderate factions.
Trump continues to prove that he is incapable of understanding nuance, or of looking beyond his own small stable of ideas, beliefs and allies. And by yoking himself to Arpaio, he’s not endorsing a rigorous or even effective approach to illegal immigration, but repudiating basic values of human decency and smart, contemporary approaches to criminal justice. He’s telling America that it’s permissible for the government to violate our basic civil rights simply because a sheriff wraps a “tough on crime” bow around it. A pardon suggests to other sheriffs around the nation that the administration will support them in any potential court showdowns over immigration.
Raleigh News & Observer: Trump, McConnell feud puts nation in peril
But unfortunately, the Republican in the White House, one Donald J. Trump, is neither practical nor much of a politician. He delights in lighting fires to call attention to himself, and he still loves campaign-type rallies where he can hear the cheers of his most ardent supporters. But he cares not for policy, which is why he doesn’t mind flirting with roiling the government by blasting McConnell publicly and privately. Lately, mainstream news reports have Trump profanely going at McConnell on the phone, unhappy with him for the failure to get a health-care reform passed (in fact, Republicans couldn’t come up with anything that worked) and for not shielding Trump from an investigation of his campaign’s connections to Russia – something McConnell could not have done even if he had wanted to.
Baltimore Sun: A little scary, a lot misleading
But we’re guessing it was the sum total of what amounted to a big, hot mess, an appearance that in many ways was par for the course — the kind of combative and self-congratulatory off-the-cuff speech Mr. Trump offered during the campaign and continues to trot back out as his political support slips, just more desperate and inappropriate. If Mr. Trump’s initial reaction to Charlottesville, equating the white supremacists who marched in Virginia chanting Nazi slogans with counter-protesters, marked the low-point of his seven months in office (as the White House clearly saw it even if the president did not), why in the world would he want to again defend such actions Tuesday?
Chicago Tribune: Keep the Iran nuclear deal — for now
We’re sure that axing one of Obama’s signature foreign policy achievements would thrill Trump and his devoted following of Obama critics.
But it’s the wrong move for America’s national security.
Why? Because even though the accord is not a great deal for the U.S., it is evidently working. Remember, the deal was about one thing only: Blocking Iran from building a nuclear weapon. That’s even more crucial now with another rogue power, North Korea, developing its ability to launch nuclear missiles capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.
Newark Star-Ledger: Trump poised to pardon a vile criminal
In the end, the contempt charge is minor for such a monster. Arpaio, 85, is not going to jail while he has a pal in the Oval Office – one who asserts his appreciation for police brutality, and inflames conflict for his own amusement. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, the pardoning of a contemptible racist is this president’s way of throwing snake oil on the fire.
Lawrence Journal-World: Kansas voting no role model
Kansas becoming an election model for the country wasn’t a real concern until President Donald Trump appointed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of Kansas’ voting policies, co-chairman of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
Kobach is the architect of some of the nation’s most restrictive voter registration policies. The requirements to register to vote require extensive documentation and are most burdensome on poor and elderly voters. New data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission show just how effective those policies have been, not only at keeping people from the polls in Kansas, but also challenging their ballots once they do turn out.
Springfield Republican: Trump, GOP would lose in government shutdown
Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. And Trump knows less about history than most.
Though Trump’s hardcore base of supporters isn’t likely to abandon the president no matter what – shuttering the federal government will be a step toward making America great again, they’ll likely say – leading the country with just a bit more than one-third of the people in your corner isn’t a recipe for longterm success.
Verde Independent: President should not hold trump card in Joe Arpaio case
During his Phoenix appearance Tuesday, President Donald Trump strongly suggested Arpaio will receive a presidential pardon on his conviction of criminal contempt.
Such an action will wipe the slate clean for the former sheriff, and totally disregard the integrity of the judicial process that determined Arpaio guilty.
Santa Maria Times: Realities of going nuclear
Which brings us to President Trump’s first warning to North Korea not to use a nuclear weapon — “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. …”
Yet another example of a world leader not being familiar with world history.
San Francisco Chronicle: Trump’s threat to the outdoors
The White House is about to find out how the public feels, not just the wishes of the timber, mining and oil industries. Protecting wild places against intrusive human activities was the reason for the Antiquities Act, and it should remain a timely and necessary tool. Far from locking up these open spaces, the monuments have generated active use through tourism, recreation and education. Leave them alone, Mr. President. Your predecessors knew better.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Under Trump, it’s not just the big stuff that Americans have to sweat
These stories embody the Trump administration’s relentless approach to using government to help the well-connected. They defy what Trump said during his campaign about “draining the swamp” of special interests. None of these actions will restore middle-class jobs.
Mining companies don’t want a bunch of scientists poking around their operations. Energy companies and ranchers want continued access to government land. Nursing homes want to protect their profits. Lobbyists are thriving. The swamp endures.
Albany Times Union: Mr. Trump’s wasteful wall
So rather than put a few hundred million dollars into a program that’s been helping reduce the influx of illegal immigrants, Mr. Trump prefers to spend billions on a grandiose wall.
Which in turn makes this a waste of potential — the potential for America to promote invaluable good will in this hemisphere by feeding the hungry, rather than shutting out starving refugees with a wall many will likely find their way around.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Why Trump’s Arizona speech bashing the media was propaganda
You fight propaganda with the truth, which is readily available if you care to find it. Unfortunately, the proliferation of news sources in the internet age provides so many choices that some choose unwisely and get propaganda pushing an agenda whose success hinges on the public’s being misinformed. The recent health care debate in which many Americans came to realize their interests weren’t being protected is a good example of that.
It’s OK for Trump to question news coverage. But his discrediting journalists has nothing to do with setting the record straight. Like a propagandist, he’s trying to eliminate competition for the public’s ears.