Remember Anthony Scaramucci? Yeah, that was Monday. This week — which felt like a year — editorial boards across the country once again took the Trump Administration to task, this time making clear that the problems plaguing the White House come from the top that no amount of unceremonious firings can fix it.
From adopting a flagrantly racist new immigration plan, to “jokes” about police brutality, to a new feud with the Boy Scouts of America, the Trump administration continues to be stuck in chaos and scandal. Here’s what Americans read in their local newspapers this week as the President heads off on a two-week taxpayer-funded vacation after accomplishing exactly nothing at work.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: White House shakeup still doesn’t fix Trump’s fundamental flaw
Trump, who has repeatedly berated Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the past, got his comeuppance when McCain tipped the balance in voting against the GOP measure last week.
Trump tweets embarrassing and irresponsible pronouncements on a daily basis, distracting staffers from promoting his agenda, forcing them instead to constantly put out brush fires. No organization can succeed if the person at the top behaves so erratically.
Likewise, Trump mistakenly believes senior staffers do their best work when pitted against one another. The result is that each works to promote himself and undermine competitors rather than work as a team.
San Francisco Chronicle: A tall order for John Kelly
However, the chain of command ultimately leads to a president with a decided lack of discipline. The real measure of Kelly’s influence will be whether Trump puts a halt to his childish name-calling and rants and falsehoods on Twitter and can make a speech to the Boy Scouts or a police group without embarrassing himself and his office.
Alton Telegraph: Off-hand remarks don’t reflect respect police have for law
Police have to deal with more than enough negative scrutiny these days — the vast majority of it unwarranted — without having to have more of the us-versus-them mentality piled on by flippant remarks.
That didn’t stop President Donald Trump from making remarks that at best were tactless and at worst careless, seeming to indicate “some” police brutality is acceptable.
South Florida Sun Sentinel: Trump’s behavior warrants GOP rebuke
In America, we look to our president to be the ultimate role model, not the fomenter of unacceptable behavior.
What do we have instead? A man whose words too often resemble those of a street thug.
And what do we expect of the Republicans who chose Trump as their standard bearer? Certainly not silence. Certainly not tacit approval.
If any police officer brutally treats someone because of Trump’s rhetoric, the president and his enablers will bear the burden.
Republicans in the House and Senate owe the country an unambiguous expression of disappointment in the president’s outlandish behavior. Doing less is an abdication of duty.
Tampa Bay Times: Encouraging excessive police force is no joking matter
This isn’t the first time Trump has entertained the notion of physical threats or violence while in front of a large audience. While on the campaign trail in 2016, he often endorsed the idea of roughing up hecklers or protesters, and has repeatedly called journalists the enemy of the people. As a candidate, his words were reckless and irresponsible. As the president, that type of talk is utterly unacceptable.
Middletown Times Herald-Record: Police rebuke Trump on abusing suspects
Treating people — all people including those being taken into custody — with respect is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Get a reputation for abusing suspects and pretty soon, police will find themselves with nobody who knows anything willing to cooperate.
Police know that, which is why so many repudiated the president’s remarks. The response is similar to their reluctance to go too far in enforcing immigration violations, knowing that the more they clamp down, the less the immigrant community — legal and otherwise — will provide the kind of information that police need to solve and prevent crimes.
Greenfield Recorder: Trump’s chaotic command
Of course, many of the problems come from the commander-in-chief himself. When Trump tweeted that he would bar transgender people from the military, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the policy would not change unless Trump issued a real order. American police chiefs, who should be natural allies of tough-on-crime Trump, condemned his suggestion that officers rough up suspects. The president even drew a rebuke from the Boy Scouts of America after taking the national jamboree hostage with a political rant rather than a paean to young Scouts.
The never-ending political pratfalls might be entertaining on a movie screen or Broadway stage. But happening as they are on the national stage, at a time when the nation and the world are looking to Washington for leadership on issues ranging from health care to crumbling roads to violence at home and abroad, they provide evidence of a president who each month proves himself (is it possible?) even less fit to serve.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Kelly’s assignment may be tougher than any as a Marine
No doubt Kelly has had difficult commanders during his military career, but serving the mercurial Trump may be a bigger challenge. The president’s insistence on going his own way despite any advice he receives has angered members of his own party.
Sacramento Bee: Who’s really to blame for fake news? It may be President Trump
Trump can call the Russia probe a witch hunt all he wants, and blame it all on Democrats and the media. But in May, he fired FBI Director James Comey and acknowledged it was because of how Comey was handling the Russia investigation. In June, Trump went after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel. And last week, the president attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the inquiry.
If there’s nothing there, why does Trump keep acting as if there is?
York Dispatch: Revolving door, misplaced sympathy
Trump’s volatility, his unpredictability, his disrespect for … well, everyone from women, to Mexicans, to war heroes to the pope — all this was well known before he launched his campaign. And none of it has changed with his elevation to the White House. This is what makes Kelly’s new assignment such a tall order.
So Sessions, like Preibus and Spicer and so many other past and current members of the administration, shouldn’t be surprised to find himself on the receiving end of presidential mistreatment, or summarily shown the door. That is the price of admission to an administration who supporters paint as unconventional and critics decry as dysfunctional.
If there is sympathy to be proffered, it should be directed at those who are threatened by the health, education, environmental, immigration and other policies being pursued by the current administration, not those endeavoring to carry them out.
Syracuse Post-Standard: President Trump offers Upstate NY the back of his hand
There’s no mystery about why Foxconn chose Wisconsin. First, it’s good politics to build a $10 billion manufacturing plant in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district, in a state that helped the president win the electoral college vote. Second, Wisconsin promised a whopping $3 billion in subsidies, to New York’s offer of $600 million.
The deal works out to $66,600 a year per employee over 15 years – more than the $54,000 a year the jobs will pay. Great for Foxconn, bad for Wisconsin taxpayers.
After making such a hefty investment, don’t be surprised if Upstate New Yorkers moving in on Wisconsin jobs get a chilly reception.
Lincoln Journal Star: Free press keeps democracies from becoming dictatorships
Weaponizing the judicial system against the constitutionally protected freedom of the press is the work of a dictatorship, not the democracy prized by Americans for 241 years. This troubling report indicates the long-simmering feud between the politicians and journalists whose job it is to keep elected officials accountable is boiling over – and rapidly.
Democracy, as it’s often said, inherently carries the seeds that can be sowed to create its own demise. Following through on these authoritarian impulses would lead to real threats against the American experiment taking root.
Charleston Gazette-Mail: Transgender soldiers are just collateral damage to the president
His announcement was a surprise to the Pentagon. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a letter to the military service chiefs saying nothing would change until the White House sends new rules to the Defense Department and the defense secretary issues new guidelines.
“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” General Dunford wrote.
But such an announcement must undercut the sense of personal security and concentration of transgender soldiers currently on duty. Possibly it disrupts, even fractionally, the smooth operation of military units. That’s pretty much the opposite of supporting the troops.
Most Americans do not hurry to the recruitment office to choose a career of physical hardship and self-sacrifice, but everyone in the country depends on those who do undertake that duty. America’s soldiers deserve better than just serving as collateral damage in the commander-in-chief’s petty culture-skirmish distraction.
San Francisco Chronicle: Trump throws his weight behind a terrible immigration bill
The RAISE Act is an immigration-reduction bill. It won’t strengthen the U.S. economy — studies consistently show that immigrants boost the economy.
The merit-based argument doesn’t hold water, either. The countries they noted for having “merit-based” migration, Canada and Australia, admit more than twice the number of immigrants to their countries that the U.S. does, based on percentage of overall population.
As for the immigration plan Trump introduced, it would slash by half the number of people who could move here legally each year. It would also stop favoring family members of legal residents, instead rewarding highly skilled workers and those who can speak English. In other words, it would create a set of rules entirely different from the ones that allowed our forebears to come here and build lives.
Trump’s theme for this week is “American dream.” But increasingly, this is turning into a nightmare.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The president jokes about roughing up suspects. That’s never OK
Police officers have no explicit or implied permission to rough-up suspects or administer street justice just because they’re convinced of a suspect’s guilt. Giving them such permission would unleash a cascade of abuses unlike anything we’ve experienced in the years since videos began surfacing of police officers kicking, beating, abusing or shooting the suspects in their custody.
We can think of no quicker way to undermine public faith in the law enforcement system than for the president to be seen advocating deliberately rough treatment of those in police custody. He could not be more wrong — or more un-funny.
Newark Star-Ledger: Trump jokes, because that’s what he thinks police brutality is. A joke
Is there? Here is a directive from the Trump administration: Trump’s Justice Department will no longer investigate local police departments, despite well-documented abuses like officer beatings of unarmed people in Cleveland, or the excessive use of dogs and Tasers against blacks in Ferguson. It’s bad for “morale,” his attorney general says.
Police are now immune from federal scrutiny. But Trump was just kidding.
Kokomo Tribune: Transgender transgression
This was a completely shocking about-face of the last year’s lifting of such a ban, all through social media. With Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on vacation for the week and no “Generals and military experts” having actually been consulted, the Pentagon was thrown into disarray. The White House referred further questions to the Department of Defense. DoD referred questions to The White House.
The pushback was swift, and came from unlikely quarters. Republican Senators John McCain, Joni Ernst, Richard Shelby and Orrin Hatch all attacked Trump’s sudden reversal. As details began to trickle out about the origin of the statement, it became clear it wasn’t even what members of Congress who had pressed the president had pushed for.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat: White House is a hot summer mess
But as can often be said in the high summer heat in Washington, it’s not so much the heat as the stupidity. Scaramucci should never have been hired in the first place. He had no experience for the position he had been assigned and, as demonstrated by his crude denunciations of Priebus and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon to the New Yorker, he was wholly ill-suited to serve as the chief in charge of White House communications. His primary skill appeared to be an unapologetic dedication to self-grooming and self-promotion — and the president already has those duties covered.
Los Angeles Times: Who benefits from discriminatory college admissions policies? White males
If the Trump administration really intends to examine discriminatory college-admission policies, as a New York Times report suggests, it had best be prepared for what it will find: A lot of white people who benefit from admission preferences that have been around far longer than affirmative action.
That reality may surprise this administration, which rode a wave of white resentment into office — a resentment its leadership continues to fan. On the other hand, President Trump is intimately familiar with the ways that college admissions practices aid members of the wealthy white establishment.
Maryland Daily Record: Immigration plan anti-American
Trump’s nonsense permeates everyone defending the president’s boorish impulses. When a CNN reporter asked Trump adviser Stephen Miller if this anti-immigration plan violated American values embodied by the Statue of Liberty and the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed upon it — “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses …” — Miller’s response was that the poem wasn’t part of the original statue and was only added later.
Seriously? So the Statue of Liberty really represents a different message? And Trump is the one who knows better?
Springfield Republican: Strengthened Russia sanctions tie president’s hands
In limiting the president’s authority to step in, the legislature was making another point: Perhaps Trump’s chief interests are not our nation’s interests, either.
No one can really explain Trump’s frequently expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin. But as it’s been made clear, time and again, Trump looks up to the Russian strongman and former KGB honcho.
Congress, thankfully, has moved to see that Trump’s affections for Putin are kept at bay.