Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ The biggest political question hanging over the holiday is health-care legislation. What are lawmakers hearing over the break? And what will Senate Republicans do when they return in a week?
◆ The media maelstrom over the weekend was a more symbolic issue: Pres. Trump’s tweets, then his posting of the odd pro-wrestling video of Trump taking down CNN.
Comment: There is nothing inherently wrong with using social media to communicate directly to the public.
What is wrong are the mean-spirited, personal attacks and the broad-brush attacks on all media as “fake.”
The President is both a political leader (head of government) and a representative of all Americans (head of state). In many countries the ceremonial office of “head of state” is held separately–in England by the Queen, for instance. We expect the head of state to represent all citizens and act with the gravity associated with that office. But we also expect some reasonably high standards from our political officials. They can have fun–wear silly hats–but we don’t expect them to be stumbling drunk in public either. And we don’t expect the President to act like a schoolyard bully.
Trump sunk beneath reasonable standards, even though he is correct in saying the media loathes him and his policies.
How big a story is it?
Big, I think, because it speaks to the President’s personality and because it is such an unusual breach of standards for the office.
But it is not worthy of the 24/7 headline news some networks have given it. That turns them into tabloids.
Nor are they alone. The Washington Post has made it the lead story for today, as well, followed by a story on how hard it is to be a cabinet secretary for Trump. They add another story likening Trump to Turkey’s dictator, Erdogan.
It shows, as Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) says very perceptively, that Trump is trying to “weaponize” the public’s mistrust of the media. The media’s unabashed partisanship and overt hatred of Trump makes the task much easier, even as it fouls our public discourse.
Bad as this is, it is not evidence that, as some Democrats are saying, the President is mentally ill and should be removed from office as a result.
What these nasty tweets show is Trump’s darkest streak: his thin skin, narcissism, penchant for taking all criticism personally, and willingness to strike back in intemperate ways. That is beneath the office he holds.
◆ US Navy continues exercises to show South China Sea is an international waterway. China protests vigorously (Washington Post)
The latest dispute came after the US sailed a destroyer within 12 nautical miles of a small island claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Comment: These are international waters, which China moved to dominate under the Obama administration. These US exercises are important, both for freedom of navigation and for reassurance of US allies in the region.
◆ US economic growth in first quarter was anemic, despite slight upward revision. It’s still only 1.4% (Reuters)
◆ Tesla Model 3, their first mass-market car, goes on sale at end of week, with production ramping up this year (The Verge)
It’s ahead of the schedule announced last year. Should cost around $35k, far less than the Model X and Model S.
Comment: What does the stock market expect? Well, the company now has a higher valuation than BMW. Strange. The only rationale for that is investors thinking that Tesla is the future of automobiles.
◆ In Texas, two tons of marijuana disguised as lettuce was seized (AOL)
Comment: Vice versa in Colorado.
◆ Lyft gaining market share in Chicago as Uber fights PR battles about company’s culture (Chicago Tribune)
Had about 10% share of ride-shares in January 2016; now over 25% share. Some drivers have moved over and some passengers, as well, according to the Tribune.
Comment: It’s encouraging to see consumers and employees rewarding what they like and shying away from what they don’t. Sends a signal to other companies, too.