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Opinion

Newsletter: What a week: Trump insults China, Jews and Denmark

Donald Trump
President Trump
(Andrew Rush / Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

This was just one of those weeks for Donald Trump (and for the rest of us). Almost nothing he said was lucid, and anything that came out of his mouth had value insofar as that mouth belongs to the president of the United States. Since Trump happens to be the most powerful human on the planet right now, we have to pay attention to what would be dismissed as confused ramblings if they were uttered by a relative at Thanksgiving dinner.

I haven’t exactly narrowed it down for you, right? I could be talking about what happened at the beginning of the week, when Trump floated the idea of buying Greeland from Denmark, only to be rejected by a rightly incredulous Danish prime minister. Or I could be talking about him “hereby ordering” American businesses to repatriate any operations they might have in China, triggering a massive sell-off in financial markets. Or there’s his shocking statement that Jewish Americans who don’t vote for Republicans are uninformed or disloyal.

I’ll start with his statements (yes, he actually made a few) about American Jews, words that echo anti-Semitic tropes from history used to persecute the Jewish people. As Lev Golinkin warned in an op-ed article, “By labeling Democrat-voting Jews as disloyal, the White House is spreading a hateful lie and attacking a powerful and quintessentially American ideal.” L.A. Times

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There was actually important news concerning Greenland this week, but Trump managed to cook up a massive helping of distraction that, amazingly, also kept the focus on Greenland. Entertaining as Trump’s spat with the Danish prime minister might be, it provides a disturbing look at how the president might personalize negotiations with more formidable world powers, warns Michael McGough: “Remember that the next whimsical foreign policy decision by this president might not be a laughing matter.” L.A. Times

This is the president who may have to get us through a recession, and Trump has done little to reassure worried Americans in light of troubling warning signs from the global economy. Instead of coming up with a contingency plan — and, credit him for talking about cutting the payroll tax — he’s accusing his political opponents of welcoming an economic downtown and denying that there are any warning signs at all. L.A. Times

The National Rifle Assn. is in crisis, and if it folds, then good riddance. The more we find out about the inner finances of the newly cost-conscious gun lobbying group, the more it appears to be set up at least partly to enrich its chief executive, Wayne LaPierre. Whatever happens internally, “any erosion of influence by the NRA, with its long track record supporting policies that endanger us all, would be good for the country,” says the editorial board. L.A. Times

Anti-vaxxers can’t traffic in violent language and then claim ignorance when someone gets hurt. State Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), the pediatrician-turned-lawmaker who wrote the California law closing a loophole exploited by unscrupulous doctors and parents who would rather not inoculate their children, has been compared to Adolf Hitler and Nazi doctor Josef Mengele at anti-vaxxer rallies. Now, those groups are disingenuously expressing shock that Pan was physically assaulted earlier this week. L.A. Times

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Reach me: paul.thornton@latimes.com


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