We begin today’s roundup with Joan Walsh at The Nation and her take on how Trump runs his business and the White House like a mob boss:
[T]his is the president we’re talking about here. His fluency in Mafia patois ought to rattle us, at least a little.
It doesn’t rattle his base, which shows no signs of abandoning him—yet. And I don’t know at what point they should be expected to. This has become a distracting journalistic exception that pushes us toward nihilism: Nothing Trump does seems to really matter to a segment of influential reporters and pundits, unless it rocks his strongest supporters. [...] Much more worrisome is the indifference of leading Republicans to the president’s mob-boss rantings.
Matthew Walther at The Week makes a similar point:
He is exactly what he has always appeared to be: a televisual parody of a loud-mouthed New York businessman, whose accomplishments in real estate and gambling were the result of marketing savvy more than genuine acumen and who later put these skills to better use as the host of a television program about fake businessmen running fake businesses. His personal obsession with the argot of outer-borough mafiosi circa 1960, filtered through past and present cronies such as Roy Cohn and Roger Stone, is a performance. The president has no interest in loyalty and even calls it is a meaningless principle, but he very much likes to imagine himself as the kind of TV character who might rant about it. "Rats" such as Cohen are necessary to the whole enterprise because without them there would be no occasion for theatrical denunciation of their conduct.
At The New York Times, Michelle Goldberg explains how accountability will be at the top of the agenda should Democrats win the House:
This culture of impunity is less a result of Trump’s political skill — he’s deeply unpopular — than of one-party rule. The majority of voters want a check on this administration, but the Republican Party doesn’t care; it’s beholden to a minority that delights in the helplessness of fellow citizens. If Democrats take the House in the November midterms — which the model of the statistics website FiveThirtyEight gives them about a 70 percent chance of doing — that helplessness ends. Contrary to Republican claims, there are no Democratic plans for imminent impeachment proceedings. But there will be subpoenas, hearings and investigations. Things that haven’t mattered for the past 19 months suddenly will.
On Sunday, Axios reported that Republicans are circulating a spreadsheet of investigations that House Democrats could undertake should they take control of the chamber. It was compiled by cataloging Democratic requests for documents and interviews that Republicans previously ignored, and it doesn’t necessarily tell Republicans much about Democratic priorities. Still, Republicans are right to be worried.
Catherine Rampell, meanwhile, factchecks the president on his claim that he’s ending NAFTA:
President Trump announced Monday that he’s “terminating” the North American Free Trade Agreement, and boasted that he and Mexico just struck “maybe the largest trade deal ever made.”
Actually: Trump can’t unilaterally kill NAFTA; this is only a possible step toward any new trade deal involving Mexico; it’s probably not a good step; and it may not actually lead to any new deal at all.
In other words, it’s precisely the puffery we’ve come to expect from a president who doesn’t understand what his own administration is doing, or doesn’t care.
John Cassidy at The New Yorker writes an expansive piece on the essence of Trump’s presidency:
Donald Trump is a small, petty man. He is a liar and a crook. And his legal problems are mounting. Each one of these statements has been true since January 20, 2017, when Trump became the President of the United States. But the remarkable events of the past week have highlighted and confirmed the essence of this President, and the terms on which he continues to hold office.
Meanwhile, on the topic of John McCain’s death, Eugene Robinson says all the talk from the GOP about McCain’s courage rings hollow:
We will hear much this week from Republicans in Congress about honoring McCain’s legacy. Anyone who takes those noble words seriously should do everything possible to elect Democratic majorities in the House and Senate in November. As Trump well knows, the GOP no longer has a spine.
The Washington Post pens an editorial on gun violence in America:
Former U.S. representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), herself grievously wounded in a mass shooting in 2011, rightly pointed out Sunday that “We do not have to accept these horrific acts of violence as routine.” There are common-sense steps that can and should be taken, such as muscular background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and keeping guns away from domestic abusers. Much to its discredit, Congress has failed to act. Voters need to remember that when they go to the polls in November.
And on a final note, don’t miss this editorial by USA Today on the Republican culture of corruption:
Like all criminal defendants, Collins and Hunter are entitled to a presumption of innocence. But perhaps it's not a coincidence that they were the first two House members to endorse Donald Trump, who lives by the "always attack, never apologize" credo of one of his mentors, the late lawyer Roy Cohn.
Trump's brazen approach hasn't had any significant impact on his standing with his base. Maybe that's why it has been embraced by other ethically challenged politicians.
And that's a shame.