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The small Balkan nation of Croatia did what Hillary Clinton couldn't. It beat Russia.

That gave us a final four in the World Cup that is all-NATO, exalting the time-tested alliance and defying the emerging Putin-Trump axis of ego.

You ask: Must I politicize everything? I answer: Most everything is politicized already.

A megalomaniacal American president bullies our treasured historic allies and says that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is "fine." He insists on thumbing his nose at domestic democratic accountability to meet privately with this Russian autocrat during a forthcoming summit in Helsinki. This will happen only a week or so after the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee determined that Russia interfered in our recent presidential to help Trump.

Confronted with that exponential distress, I will take decency's victories on the soccer field and anywhere else I can find them.

Let me say a mitigating word for the Donald Trump base.

I understand that it believes Trump is seeking to impose an agenda of which it approves: America-first trade, native-first immigration policy and a general assault on an American political and media culture that this base finds corrupt. I understand that it believes the Democratic Party has gone over fully to identity politics and urban-centered interest. I agree that, at the moment, there isn't a Democrat in sight with any evident new ideas or broad message or appeal.

But, at risk of rude rebuff, could I ask the Trump base for a mere moment of mitigating consideration for the rest of us?

We see great peril in a big-mouthed president who likes Putin more than he likes Angela Merkel or Emmanuel Macron. We worry when an American president says the imperialist Russian is fine while our NATO European allies are going to have to start paying us more for both trade and defense if they want us to remain their friend.

Some of us still prefer open democratic societies to strongman regimes. Some of us still are more trusting of a Trudeau than a Putin, a Theresa May than a Kim Jong Un.

Consider this verbiage over the weekend by the Business Insider: "President Donald Trump treats Russian President Vladimir Putin as a confidant while bullying and ignoring other world leaders. Putin, meanwhile, is playing to Trump's strengths and weaknesses. The two men often commiserate over how the 'fake news' and 'deep state' are against them. 'It's not us,' Putin reportedly told Trump during one recent conversation. 'It's the subordinates fighting against our friendship.'"

If you don't recoil against that as betrayal of the American ideal, or at least worry that our ego-needy president is being played, then you must either be naïve or blindly enamored of what you think Trump is or, well, worse.

Trump told a Pavlovian gathering in Montana last week not to worry. I've been preparing for this summit with the Russian all my life, he said.

No, he hasn't. He's been cutting ethical corners to make big real estate deals, good and bad. A few bankruptcies are common to big-time real estate, at least the way Trump has done it. But a single cutting of an ethical corner in foreign affairs is detestable. A single moral bankruptcy in foreign affairs can be disastrous.

Could Trump's utterly transparent eagerness to be accepted as a near-equal chum of a strongman result in his being played by a smarter man who has spent his long career in sinister global manipulation?

You think?

The latest evidence indicates Trump might have been played three weeks ago by a grinning North Korean tyro, a boy with rockets for toys who figured out it was in his dictatorial interest to make nice with this big over-eager and pliable American, this colleague in juvenility.

Trump returned from a few hours of reality-based television performance in Singapore--The Presidential Apprentice, you might call it--to declare that Kim Jong Un was an admirable man and that we needn't worry anymore about North Korean missiles.

He relied for that conclusion on a couple of vapid paragraphs in a signed statement composed merely for show.

Over the weekend, North Korean officials met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to end the playtime and begin real business. These North Korean officials came away saying that the U.S. had made "gangster-like" demands.

Apparently the de-nuclearization of North Korea was not quite fully accomplished in that recent ratings-winning episode of Presidential Apprentice.

Don't worry. Putin and Trump will talk privately in a few days and lament that "fake news" won't give Trump his due for saving the human race.

Maybe Vlad will give Donald a hug. Maybe they'll relax by shedding their shirts and going horseback riding--Putin astride up front and the American behind, side-saddle, leaning on, and with his arms tight around, this fine Russian.


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 07/10/2018

Print Headline: Perilous president

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  • RBear
    July 10, 2018 at 6:19 a.m.

    Yea, the bromance that is Putin-Trump is about to happen and we know who the b*tch is in that relationship. Oh well, we'll see another made for TV moment followed by us getting screwed over by Russia in terms of agreements. That's what happened with NK as we are finding out now and that was small fry according to Trump. If Trump couldn't outdeal Rocket Man, how the heck does he stand a chance with Putin?
    All Putin has to do is pull out popcorn and tapes and sit back with Trump to watch some B-rated porn from a Russian hotel. Of course, I'm sure Trump won't be shocked and will probably get all excited at the opportunity. After all, the idiot loves himself more than anything.

  • TimberTopper
    July 10, 2018 at 6:41 a.m.

    A good one John. It has been about 18 months of this made for TV POTUS, and I am yet to see anything that he has truly accomplished on his own that benefited the American people or America for that matter. So far if he touches it the end result could be used so some would say to enrich the soil. However we probably all know those that consider him a great leader, but we must remember that unless it is the news from a major broadcaster, not Fox, it's probably not news. It is like the rest of TV it is all a story. Do you think we will look back and ALL of us understand that this whole time in history was just a made for TV story, or will the Trumpets never wake up?

  • Whippersnapper
    July 10, 2018 at 8:22 a.m.

    I don't trust Trump or Putin or Merkel or Macron or Trudeau or Clinton. I might have trusted May, except for the fact that she just cut the Brexit deal to Brexit without actually making a Brexit.
    Your problem, JB, is that you think any of these leaders care about the people they serve more than their own interests. Japanese PM? Maybe. Australian PM? Maybe. Current non-puppet Ukrainian PM? Maybe.
    I think that since 1970, the U.S. presidents who genuinely cared as much or more about the average Joe as they cared about themselves are limited to 3- Carter (not the most competent, not the luckiest, but genuinely cared for people), Reagan, and Bush II (you might not have agreed with him politically, but everything he did was based on what he genuinely thought was best for people). I almost put Obama on this list, but I actually think that while he thought he was doing the right thing for people, he was also far more concerned with his own legacy and popularity. The three I listed didn't take that into consideration.

  • GOHOGS19
    July 10, 2018 at 8:42 a.m.

    SSDD from Brummett

  • mozarky2
    July 10, 2018 at 9:27 a.m.

    Republicans pick up seats in House, 6-12 seats in Senate. President Trump cruises to a 49-state electoral win in 2020. Dims have nobody that can counter the Trump Miracle economy. Not a single one.
    Have you "progs" heard that Bill and the Fainting Felon were spotted together at LaGuardia Saturday? That can only mean one thing: she's running!

  • mozarky2
    July 10, 2018 at 9:46 a.m.

    Hilarious! Just saw a picture of the commie nutbucket Bernie Sanders slobbering into a microphone at the phony Soros-funded riot at the Supreme Court building last night. Some hippie chick over his left shoulder was watching Heap Big Squaw Grey Beaver approaching, and the chick's eyes are as big as saucers! She must have been thinking she'd accidentally stumbled into a remake of "Night of the Living Dead"!

    July 10, 2018 at 9:57 a.m.

    That poor granddaughter. She deserves better than a blithering, rage-blinded, misogynist for a grandfather.

  • GeneralMac
    July 10, 2018 at 10:02 a.m.

    Bernie Sanders........every time I see his name I think of the eunuch hanging his head and meekly backing up as two racist Black women took away his microphone and forced the cancellation of his rally that night.

    When you castrate a 400 lb bull, they behave as meekly as Bernie Sanders.

    A lot of similarity.

  • RBear
    July 10, 2018 at 10:14 a.m.

    Moz wages are still stagnant which will factor into the mid-term. Also, when was that infrastructure investment supposed to start happening? Still waiting on that. Regardless, you live in some altered reality that doesn’t square with most things.

  • mozarky2
    July 10, 2018 at 10:15 a.m.

    If you don't have offspring, and I know you don't, you are disqualified from opining on offspring.
    One other thing: you can't point out one thing in any of my posts that even remotely resembles hatred. Biting humor, yes, but never hatred. You're getting to be as big a liar as Brummett, RBear, and TimberTopper, ARMNAR. Stick to predicting the future. You're better at that than lying.