Thursday, February 02, 2017

Driving angry

It probably won't be long now before Steve Bannon and his furry little friend Donald Trump drive the United States over the edge and way down, down, down into the quarry.

We might be OK.


Well, probably not now.

That's what we get for electing a president -- take your pick, Bannon or Trump -- who drives angry.

Just Wednesday, word came of two road-rage incidents with foreign leaders. In a Friday phone call, Trump apparently threatened President Enrique Pena Nieto with a U.S. invasion if Mexico's military couldn't take care of that country's "bad hombres."

I am not making this up.

"You have a bunch of bad hombres down there," the American commander in chief told his Mexican counterpart, according to a partial transcript of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press. "You aren't doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn't, so I just might send them down to take care of it."

If Trump was offering assistance, that's a mighty strange way to put it.
A person with access to the official transcript of the phone call provided only that portion of the conversation to The Associated Press. The person gave it on condition of anonymity because the administration did not make the details of the call public.

The Mexican website Aristegui Noticias on Tuesday published a similar account of the phone call, based on the reporting of journalist Dolia Estevez. The report described Trump as humiliating Pena Nieto in a confrontational conversation.

Mexico's foreign relations department said the report was "based on absolute falsehoods."

Americans may recognize Trump's signature bombast in the comments, but the remarks may carry more weight in Mexico.
Political analyst and former presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar notes Pena Nieto had enjoyed an apparent spike in his low approval levels, as Mexicans rallied around him for publicly challenging Trump in the border wall dispute.
The latest remarks could undercut that, if Pena Nieto is viewed as "weak," he said.

Trump has used the phrase "bad hombres" before. In an October presidential debate, he vowed to get rid the U.S. of "drug lords" and "bad people."

"We have some bad hombres here, and we're going to get them out," he said. The phrase ricocheted on social media with Trump opponents saying he was denigrating immigrants.

THE NEXT DAY, it was Australia's prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who got Trumped. Or Bannoned. Does it really even matter? Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me.

The Washington Post, which hasn't seen this much crazy since Watergate, has the story:

It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.

Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.

At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.”

Trump’s behavior suggests that he is capable of subjecting world leaders, including close allies, to a version of the vitriol he frequently employs against political adversaries and news organizations in speeches and on Twitter.

“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center.

Trump, who one day earlier had signed an executive order temporarily barring the admission of refugees, complained that he was “going to get killed” politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.”

Trump returned to the topic late Wednesday night, writing in a message on Twitter: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

THE UNITED STATES should have bought life insurance from Ned Ryerson when it had the chance. Maybe Canada could have gotten a little something from Mutant of Omaha ("When the world's in ashes, we'll have you covered.").

But we didn't, and Canada won't. And as we become Krispy Kritters in the flaming wreckage of Pickup One at the bottom of a quarry, there'll be no do-over for voters who figured that what Washington really needed was to be blowed up good -- real good.

The alarm clock won't flip from 5:59 to 6:00, and it won't be morning in America once again. We're a midnight kind of country now.

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