The challenge for commentators and political cartoonists in the Age of
Just this week, I had to trash a completed cartoon because news events made it irrelevant in a matter of hours. On Wednesday alone, stories about Donald Trump’s unannounced, unmediated hour-long huddle with Russian President
That's at least four topics screaming for comment, but there is not time enough in 24 hours to do them all. So, for now, I want to focus on the Putin meeting before we all get distracted by the next tweet or fabrication from the Trump camp because, while there are some checks on the president's shenanigans in domestic politics, he has far more latitude to freelance in foreign affairs. And this second, formerly undisclosed session with Putin at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month was, indeed, a renegade act on Trump's part.
It happened at a banquet hosted by German Chancellor
Instead, he wanted more face time with Putin who was further down the table sitting next to First Lady
What's so wrong with that? Well, if this had been just a cocktail hour in Manhattan and Trump were just a real estate mogul swapping boy talk with a Russian-emigre money launderer from Queens, no one except the gossip columnist at the New York Post would care. But, much to the world's disbelief, Trump is president of the United States, and it is highly irregular for the nominal leader of the Free World to spend an hour engaged with a prime adversary of democratic nations while the leaders of those nations are in the room watching.
No one knows what these unusual pals had to say, what deals may have been struck, what intelligence shared, what misperceptions created. Putin must have been delighted to be accorded such stature by Trump. Merkel, Abe, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all the other allied leaders certainly had to wonder if being snubbed in favor of Putin was an indicator of where Trump's sympathies will lie in any future confrontation between NATO and Russia.
Trump is now whining that the media have made a big deal about his ignorant breach of diplomatic etiquette. Of course he is whining. He is a man-child who knows nothing about the intricacies of international relations. In total thrall to the self-manufactured image of himself as a great dealmaker, he seems eager to be a willing dupe for the Machiavelli of Moscow.
There is a reason this country employs ranks of seasoned diplomats and intelligence experts. Almost every president comes into office with limited experience on the world stage and must rely on those who know more than he does. Trump is especially untutored and needs more help than most, but he is so ignorant of what he does not know that he thinks he can just wing it.
The world is a dangerous place. Unfortunately, America's president thinks it's a dinner party.