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Friday, February 10, 2017

The Impulsive Approach to Managing Alliances by Paul R. Pillar

The Impulsive Approach to Managing Alliances

by Paul R. Pillar
Donald Trump has gone so far beyond the bounds of what once was considered presidential, or decorous (without even getting into what is, from a policy point of view, wise or prudent) that criticisms that were once aimed at past presidents, including Trump’s immediate predecessor, now seem like something that must have been said a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.  Remember how Barack Obama’s political opponents on the right, such as those found in the pages of the Weekly Standard, portrayed him as being a “self-referential” person who thought “it was always about him”?  That never was an accurate portrayal of a leader who, notwithstanding his place in history as the first African-American president, endeavored to steer stories away from his personal role much more than in the other direction, as consistent with the peroration in Mr. Obama’s farewell address, in which he said, “I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.”  This criticism of President Obama now seems especially laughable, given a new occupant of the White House who practices extreme narcissism, is fixated on trumpeting himself and his brand, and who repeatedly changes the subject—no matter what the occasion, whether it is an appearance before the wall memorializing fallen CIA officers or an observance of Black History Month—to his own accomplishments, or his support, or his crowds, and how the mainstream media do not report on such things in a way that conforms with his self-image.

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