Author: Daniel W. Drezner

The state of the union is weird

THE WASHINGTON POST OPINIONS What if the American public, not President Trump, defined the State of the Union address? The Washington Post Opinions section asked you to finish this sentence: “The state of the union is _____.” Here’s what some of you said. (Adriana Usero,Danielle Kunitz/The Washington Post) Tonight, President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Preparations appear to be running about as smoothly as the rest of the Republican-run federal government: Republicans may have to recall all State of the Union tickets because they say “Uniom” not “Union,”...

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Donald Trump cannot stop endorsing losers

During a rally in Pensacola, Fla., on Dec. 8, President Trump told Alabamians to “get out and vote for Roy Moore,” the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Alabama. (The Washington Post) President Trump did not have a very good day Tuesday. First of all, Doug Jones defeated Trump’s preferred candidate, Roy Moore. It is worth remembering that Trump went from staying on the sidelines as Moore faced credible, multiple allegations of molesting children to full-throated support. We have the tweets to prove it: Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2017 LAST thing the Make America Great Again Agenda needs is a Liberal Democrat in Senate where we have so little margin for victory already. The Pelosi/Schumer Puppet Jones would vote against us 100% of the time. He’s bad on Crime, Life, Border, Vets, Guns & Military. VOTE ROY MOORE! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2017 A big contingent of very enthusiastic Roy Moore fans at the rally last night. We can’t have a Pelosi/Schumer Liberal Democrat, Jones, in that important Alabama Senate seat. Need your vote to...

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What makes people nostalgic for a past worse than the present?

THE WASHINGTON POST OPINIONS Elizabeth Omilami, daughter of Hosea Williams, speaks before President Obama delivers a speech before taking a symbolic walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, marking the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,’ a civil rights march. (AP) By any objective measure, in most parts of the globe life is far better now than it was 50 years ago. Whether one looks at poverty reduction, literacy rates, civil and political liberties, violent conflict, or overall health, the world looks much better now than in 1967. Seriously, it’s not close. Yes, one can point to local backsliding among some...

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Donald Trump will not be draining any swamps as president

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event at the airport in Kinston, N.C., on Oct. 26. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters) Since Donald Trump won the 44th greatest landslide in American presidential history, the hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts has been having a little bit of fun on Twitter: Thank goodness the Clintons, who solicited funds from foreign sources, won’t be running American foreign policy. https://t.co/x0rpQnsLCo — Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) November 18, 2016 Thank goodness Hillary Clinton, who was accused of saying one thing in public and another in private, won’t be president. https://t.co/0t1LpTbcbW — Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) November 25, 2016 Thank goodness Hillary Clinton, with allegations of corruption at her foundation, will not be in the Oval Office. https://t.co/cqQ4z3Ri9v — Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) November 22, 2016 Thank goodness Hillary Clinton, with all the possible conflict of interests involving her nonprofit foundation, will not be president. https://t.co/G7bSKqHBbI — Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) November 22, 2016 Now this has upset some Trump supporters on Twitter. At the risk of incurring the wrath of E.B. White, I thought it might be a good idea to explain its purposes. There were three macro reasons to vote for Trump for president. The first reason is that you self-identify as a Republican, he was on the ballot as the GOP candidate for president. Q.E.D. Fine, I get that, but there’s no...

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Will Donald Trump be the actual decider in his administration’s foreign policy? This one trick will tell you!

Cars pass by a billboard showing President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin placed by members of the pro-Serbian movement in the town of Danilovgrad on Nov. 16. (Savo Prelevic/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images) Over the Thanksgiving break, I wrote something about how foreign actors will try to navigate American foreign policy when President-elect Donald Trump is tweeting blatant falsities at all hours of the day. But there was a hidden assumption I made in that piece that is worth questioning going forward: will Trump actually be the decider on American foreign policy? There are some valid reasons to ask that question. There’s the issue of interest — maybe Trump doesn’t care that much about foreign affairs not involving beauty pageants. By his own choosing, Trump hasn’t received many intelligence briefings since becoming the president-elect, whereas Vice president-elect Mike Pence has been briefed on an almost daily basis. Trump also made it clear during his first week as president-elect that his policy priorities would be enriching his family’s bottom line domestic in nature. There’s the issue of knowledge. Trump might have a coherent foreign policy worldview, but he doesn’t actually know that much about world politics. His sitdown with the New York Times last week simply reinforced that image. There’s also the issue of management. On the one had, there are plenty of reports about how Trump is a micromanager. There are also...

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Trump likes to be ‘unpredictable.’ That won’t work so well in diplomacy.

President-elect Donald Trump greets a crowd in the lobby of the New York Times on Tuesday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Once when I was serving in the federal government, in the early 2000s, the Treasury Department was ready to issue an obscure communique. Just before it was set to be released, someone noticed a stray punctuation mark. The picayune typo could have led some to interpret the communique as a U.S. policy reversal on some territory where sovereignty was disputed. This mattered: Historically, foreign officials and the press parse every word that presidents and policy principals say to decipher any changes in policy. Even minute shifts in language can send important signals to the world. In this case, the moment the typo was detected, we fixed the problem before it went public. A minor kerfuffle was averted. Now imagine trying to clean up President-elect Donald Trump’s statements. From both the campaign and the first few weeks of the transition, we know that Trump will pop off at anyone he perceives as crossing him at any moment. Trump didn’t like a tough question from Megyn Kelly in an August 2015 debate, and for months on end he railed about her on Twitter. When Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruled against him in fraud litigation over Trump University, he spent the next week openly questioning the judge’s impartiality because of Curiel’s ethnicity....

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WATCH: The three times Donald Trump demonstrated he was unfit for the presidency in last night’s debate

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton waves to the audience as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump puts his notes away after the third presidential debate in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher) Last night’s third presidential debate was the most substantive of the three (an admittedly super-low bar). Chris Wallace did an excellent job of moderating and made the wise tactical decision to open with policy questions before turning to both candidates’ scandals for a brief spell, and then pivoting back to policy. Donald Trump seemed to have prepped more for this debate than either of the first two, and occasionally got in some sharp attack lines on Hillary Clinton’s record. And yet, nothing in the above paragraph matters, because on at least three separate occasions, Trump said something that made it pretty clear he is radically unfit to be the president of the United States. Let’s just list them here for posterity: 1) Refusing to say he would accept the election results if he lost. If you’re Donald Trump, or a Republican politician who has endorsed Donald Trump, this is not a good look for you: The front pages of America’s largest newspapers after the final debate pic.twitter.com/6bcmAUHoJ8 — Jon Passantino (@passantino) October 20, 2016 I’m not going to belabor this point as it is clearly the story of the day and analyzing it, like almost all analysis of Trump,...

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Why Hillary Clinton’s perceived corruption seems to echo louder than Donald Trump’s actual corruption.

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Over the Labor Day weekend, there was quite the chatter comparing and contrasting the news media coverage of Hillary Clinton’s alleged improprieties involving the Clinton Foundation and Donald Trump’s actual improprieties involving the Trump Foundation, his businesses, and his campaign. Trump supporters will complain about bias in the previous paragraph, to which I say, hey, go to town. None of the news stories about the Clinton Foundation (as opposed to her handling of emails at the State Department) demonstrate anything truly disturbing. Consider: -The Associated Press suggests Clinton’s meetings with non-state officials were biased in favor of Clinton Foundation donors. Vox’s deconstruction of the AP’s report, however, showed there was no there there. -The Los Angeles Times suggested ties between a Nigerian billionaire donor to the foundation and Clinton favors, but Kevin Drum eviscerated it in Mother Jones to the point where he asked, “Am I missing something? How did this end up as the lead story in today’s LA Times?“ -The New York Times ran a story with the headline, “Emails Raise New Questions About Clinton Foundation Ties to State Dept.” suggesting that Clinton aide Huma Abedin looked into getting a Clinton Foundation aide a diplomatic passport for a trip to North Korea. The problem, however, as Vox noted, is that, the passport was never issued. So the question was answered, and the answer was, “nothing untoward happened.” –ABC...

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