If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be London

Every time President Donald Trump leaves the country he makes some big and unnecessary news, and the first day of his visit to London for a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was no exception. Geo-politics is quite complex and unpredictable these days, but Trump has predictably further complicated it.
Since long before he improbably took office Trump has been an outspoken critic of the NATO alliance, at times calling it “obsolete” and at all times haranguing the other members for their meager defense spending, and promising only in the most ambiguous terms to uphold America’s commitment to defend any fellow member from attack. He’s sticking to the same rhetoric on this visit, but he’s also objecting to the French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent statements in an interview with The Economist that NATO is currently “brain dead” under its current American leadership, and Trump somehow finds himself in alliance with former favorite punching bag and outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel in defending the importance of the institution.
Trump is also feuding with Macron over trade matters, with the former threatening huge tariffs in retaliation for the latter’s recent internet tax law that will charge American tech companies. Trump continues to threateningly grumble about the rest of Europe’s automobile industries, and although that didn’t make the news we expect it came in the off-camera conversations. At one point in his lengthy conversations with the international media Trump admitted that there probably won’t be an armistice in the trade war with China until after he wins reelection, at which point he will deliver the greatest deal ever, and after that all the stock markets tanked for a second consecutive day.
Trump also struggled with the difficult chore of not meddling in the United Kingdom’s upcoming election. He’d clearly prefer that incumbent Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson somehow be reelected, as he’s a fellow nationalist and populist with an even worse haircut, and presumptive Labour nominee Jeremy Corbyn is the British equivalent of Vermont Senator and potential Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders, only more dangerous in a country that has fallen in an out of socialism, but Trump has mostly avoided saying so. He did briefly brag about he swung the vote in recent gubernatorial elections in Kentucky and Louisiana, although the Republicans lost in both states, but declined to weigh in on British matters. He’s so very unpopular among America’s most important allies that Johnson has pleaded for no endorsement, according to both the Brith and American press, and Trump has for once adhered to a time-honored presidential tradition by declining to comment on an ally’s elections.
Trump also told the international media that he did not support the uprising of protestors against Iran’s government, although within a half hour he was correcting that on “twitter” and before the cameras. The British press dragged Trump into the middle of a big British brouhaha about Prince Andrew, who has recently withdrawn from public life because of recent interviews about his past relationship with the late billionaire and internationally notorious sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Trump said he didn’t know Prince Andrew, a claim quickly disproved by photo and video evidence from the archives of both the Brith and American media, just as he claimed to have barely known Epstein, despite photo and video evidence and glowing compliments in published journals, but that barely registered as news back home.

Back in the states the big story was that the House Intelligence had issued a 300-page report concluding Trump had abused his presidential powers for personal gain and further abused his powers to obstruct a lawful investigation, and the House Judiciary Committee is now considering articles of impeachment. Trump has publicly complained this makes it hard for him to swing deals with all the other world leaders at these big summits, which is undeniably true, but so far at least a slim majority of the country blames Trump for the situation. We’re sure all those world leaders Trump is dealing with are well apprised./div>

All the rest of those NATO countries have their own embarrassing problems, and so do the Chinese and the Iranians and pretty much every country on the planet, and we wish them all the best. Even so, no one should count on any happy outcomes by the end of this NATO summit.

— Bud Norman

A British Sex Scandal Hops Across the Pond

Fleet Street is once again in an uproar over yet another one of those fancy-schmantzy British sex scandals they get over there, this one involving a billionaire investor and convicted sex criminal who hosted orgies full of nubile teenaged girls on his yacht and at his Caribbean mansion, and allegations that Prince Andrew was among the participants, but the American press has thus been far more restrained about the possible political ramifications back here.
Fleet Street has also gone over the flight logs and other libel-proof evidence and gleefully reported that former President Bill Clinton, who is the husband of president-in-waiting Hillary Clinton, was also a frequent flyer on the billionaire investor and convicted sex criminal’s private jet and a frequent guest at that scandalous Caribbean mansion. The young woman making the allegations against Prince Andrew has not alleged that Clinton was involved in any sexual escapades while the guest of his billionaire investor and convicted sex criminal friend, but it’s enough to put fresh material on “Bill Clinton” and “sex scandal” on your search engine results, and to remind the public of all the previous sordid tales that will also pop up, and to prompt a few think pieces about a lingering problem for Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions.
During a post-holiday and pre-congressional session news lull this should be enough generate some speculation. There are private jets and Caribbean mansions and underage girls involved, all of them rather attractive judging by the photos that Fleet Street has unearthed, and one can only imagine the media feeding frenzy that would ensue if a Republican’s various phone numbers and e-mail addresses had been found among documents seized from a billionaire investor and convicted criminal uncovered during a lawsuit with his former attorneys which has lately become the talk of the British press. The Clintons can count on more circumspect coverage, as they always have, but whatever does seep through will have no upside for the anticipated Hillary Clinton campaign. The part about billionaire investors and private jets and Caribbean mansions and private access to the former president won’t play well with a Democratic party that likes to think itself at war with the One Percent, and the part about underage girls won’t work well with the “Republican war on women” theme that the presumptive first woman presidential nominee no doubt hopes to revive, and almost everyone is unsettled when the word “pedophile” starts showing up in the search engine results along with a candidate’s last name. Fleet Street prefers the more elegantly Romanesque original English spelling of “paedophile,” and the girls involved are all post-pubescent so the more accrued accurate term would be “ephebophile,” but in any terms it is not good politics.
One would prefer to believe that neither a British prince nor a past American president is guilty of any scandalous doings with underaged girls, but neither have reputations that preclude any thought of the possibility, at least on Fleet Street. The woman making the allegations against Prince Andrew, who it should be noted will soon be cashing in with a tell-all book, says she only met Clinton twice and reports nothing more than that, but is quoted as saying the circumstances of the meeting were such that she was surprised someone in his position wouldn’t be more careful.

Voters considering a Hillary Clinton candidacy, even Democrats, might consider the possibility that further such surprises will be a feature of her presidency. When the ancient Romans weren’t wasting time putting an “a” and an “e” together for no particular reason they were fond of saying Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion, and that’s still practical advice regarding a president’s husband.

— Bud Norman