Donald Trump plays at being president. He doesn’t even pretend to be a world leader

At this stage in his performance — this act in The Trump Show which masquerades as a presidency — it should be clear to the audience that the motives of the man-child acting out in front of the world are much more emotive than ideological.

Trump has far more interest in antagonizing his critics than pleasing his base.

No doubt Trump came back from Europe believing that after suffering insults, he would get the last laugh. A senior White House official (sounding like Steve Bannon) described European disappointment about Trump’s decision on Paris as “a secondary benefit,” implying perhaps that the primary benefit would be the demolition of one of the key successes of his nemesis, Barack Obama.

Thus far, The Trump Show has largely been ritual designed to symbolically purge America of Obama’s influence.

To that end, Trump’s announcement on the Paris climate accord was turned into a Rose Garden event with live jazz. Had the “guests” been served with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres as they awaited the showman’s arrival, this would have been perfectly in keeping with the light, celebratory tone the White House wanted to set.

This wasn’t the articulation of a policy shift; it was a victory dance.

Before the star of the show came to the podium, his sycophantic, spineless sidekick, Mike Pence, gave Trump a predictably syrupy and fanciful introduction to applause and cheers from the goons (White House staffers?) whose role, whenever required, is to conjure the appearance of Trump’s popularity.

At the heart of this show is a man poisoned by the sense that he has always been deprived of the admiration he deserves. He postures as the golden glowing embodiment of success in his relentless effort to avoid being confronted with the reality of his pitiful worthlessness.

Right now, there is no one else on this planet who is despised as much as Donald Trump and there is no show, no executive order, and no tweet, that can undo this fact.

There is, however, a silver-lining to the disaster named Trump.

In the growing recognition that the United States currently effectively has no president, there are others capable and willing to step into the power vacuum. This is happening both outside and inside the U.S..

The Trumpsters might believe they are steering a course towards splendid American isolation, but much more likely they are deftly and unintentionally engineering their own marginalization.

Their grasp on power is tenuous; every loyalist is just a back-stabber in waiting.

Daniel Baer, Daniel Benjamin, Hal Brands, Reuben Brigety, Sharon E. Burke, Derek Chollet, Sheba Crocker, Dan Feldman, Jon Finer, Nina Hachigian, Colin H. Kahl, Kelly Magsamen, Jeffrey Prescott, Ely Ratner, Vikram Singh, Julie Smith, Jake Sullivan, and Jim Townsend write at Foreign Policy: Ever the showman, President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday about his soon-to-be-announced decision on whether or not to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement with the air of a 1950s Las Vegas emcee building up his audience’s anticipation for an upcoming act. But the decision to remove the United States from the long-negotiated, hard-fought, international agreement is no sideshow. This is about what’s in the best interests of American prosperity and security.

As promised, Trump stepped to the podium in the Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon, announcing that the United States would leave the Paris accord. The decision will have serious, irreversible repercussions for the United States and the world.

The president’s justifications for leaving the agreement are also just plain wrong.

First, contrary to the president’s assertions, America’s hands are not tied and its sovereignty is not compromised by the Paris climate pact. The Paris agreement is an accord, not a treaty, which means it’s voluntary. The genius (and reality) of the Paris agreement is that it requires no particular policies at all — nor are the emissions targets that countries committed to legally binding. Trump admitted as much in the Rose Garden, referring to the accord’s “nonbinding” nature. If the president genuinely thinks America’s targets are too onerous, he can simply adjust them (although we believe it would be shortsighted for the administration to do so). There is no need to exit the Paris accord in search of a “better deal.” Given the voluntary nature of the agreement, pulling out of the Paris deal in a fit of pique is an empty gesture, unless that gesture is meant to be a slap in the face to every single U.S. ally and partner in the world.

The second big lie is that the Paris agreement will be a job killer. In fact, it will help the United States capture more 21st-century jobs. That is why dozens of U.S. corporate leaders, including many on the president’s own advisory council, urged him not to quit the agreement. As a letter sent to the White House by ExxonMobil put it, the agreement represents an “effective framework for addressing the risk of climate change,” and the United States is “well positioned to compete” under the terms of the deal.

Action on climate and economic growth go hand in hand, and are mutually reinforcing. That is why twice as much money was invested worldwide in renewables last year as in fossil fuels, and why China is pouring in billions to try to win this market of the future. A bipartisan group of retired admirals and generals on the CNA Military Advisory Board is about to release a report that will also spell out the importance of competitiveness in advanced energy technologies — not just to the economy, but also to the country’s standing in the world. Pulling out of climate will result in a loss of U.S. jobs and knock the United States off its perch as a global leader in innovation in a quickly changing global economic climate.

The rationale for ditching America’s commitment to the Paris accord just doesn’t hold up. Moreover, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement comes with several serious and lasting consequences for the United States and the world:

The Trump administration is hastening catastrophic effects of climate change. Scientists and economists now state with confidence that the failure to act to arrest and mitigate global climate change will have devastating global consequences, including for young Americans alive today and for their children and grandchildren. Donald Trump himself may well live to see more climate-related catastrophes hit the homeland. His children and grandchildren certainly will.

Americans all over this country are already seeing the changes — storms are more severe, big floods come more often, and in the most extreme case, Arctic waters are melting and opening up sea lanes for the first time in recorded history. Trump saw the damage from Hurricane Sandy firsthand, a preview of what climate change has in store for his children and grandchildren. Scientists and economists now state with confidence that the failure to act now to arrest and mitigate global climate change will have devastating global consequences,

Heading off the worst effects of climate change requires global action: Action by one country alone, no matter how powerful, cannot address the threat. But our country, one of the world’s two largest carbon emitters, does have significant power to improve not just our own climate, but the world’s — and Trump’s decision takes us in the wrong direction. That’s especially tragic in light of the signature achievement of the Paris Agreement, which was to get every country on board; now China and India have made the same commitments the United States and other highly developed countries have. It binds us all together through a political agreement — but the strength of that agreement depends on all of us meeting our nationally determined responsibilities.

Put simply, the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement will have impacts on the global climate that a future U.S. administration will not be able to undo. It will undermine the most significant and comprehensive coordinating mechanism for global action to combat climate change that we have. It will weaken an existing asset to defend present and future generations of Americans against a significant threat; it will undermine our security. Indeed, leading military experts, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis, have warned that the impact of climate change will lead to more refugee flows, more famine, more conflict, and more terrorism. As Mattis said, “Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.” By withdrawing from this agreement, Trump would be ignoring an issue his own secretary of defense has said is a national security threat. [Continue reading…]

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Comments

  1. Not to be omitted from the list of motivations is his need for a flash-bang-of-the-week to keep the investigation at bay. With Kushner now in focus — Trump’s agent and junior partner — and with Kislyak popping up again and yet again, the reasonable default assumption is shifting from ‘conspiracy theory’ to ‘conspiracy’. Or maybe, has shifted.

  2. “Trump has far more interest in antagonizing his critics than pleasing his base.”

    I must disagree here. His base is well & easily pleased by his antagonizing his (& their) critics.

  3. Paul Woodward says:

    There’s no question that Trump’s antagonist stance pleases his base — the question is whether he performs for their pleasure.

    I have a hard time believing that he ever does anything to please anyone. This would put him in a subordinate position and Trump’s worldview only accommodates two positions: domination or subservience. We know which of those positions he always chooses.

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