In Europe, Trump displays his runaway transactionalism

REUTERS/Carlos Barria
President Donald Trump speaking during a joint news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday.

Congratulations to President Trump for figuring out that ambiguity about the basic idea of the NATO alliance was not the way to preserve the NATO alliance.

NATO relies at the most fundamental level on the ability of all of the member states to know that all of the others will come to their aid if they are attacked and for all non-NATO members to understand that an attack on one will be treated as an attack on all.

(So far, the only nation to “collect” on that guarantee was the United States, when NATO closed ranks in response to the Sept. 11 attacks.) Until yesterday, Trump had refused to do what every post-World War II president had done, to affirm that the United States would stand behind its commitment to mutual defense among NATO members. Yesterday, on his European tour, he said the magic words.


In a day of small-medium-and-large moments in Poland and Germany, the Washington Post seemed to question the propriety of Trump calling, at a press conference in Poland yesterday, on a reporter, David Martosko of the Daily Mail, who had recently been under consideration to become Trump’s press secretary. One infers that that the WaPo viewed it as an obnoxious act of favoritism, more evidence of the transactional, reward-your-friends, screw-your-neighbors, attitude of the current incumbent.

I’m neither shocked nor horrified that he recognized Martosko for a question. And wouldn’t it be almost as wrong for Trump to not call on someone for that reason as to call on them?

But the answer our president gave to Martosko. Omigod. Maybe I’ve got to get past the point where I can be horrified by the way Trump views everything as a business deal and a corrupt business deal at that, but it’s not easy.

Here’s the exchange, as reported in the Washington Post:

I have to ask about this,” Martosko said, after starting on the subject of North Korean nuclear deterrence. “Since you started the whole wrestling thing, what are your thoughts about what has happened since then? I mean CNN went after you and has threatened to expose the identity of a person they said was responsible for it. I’d like your thoughts on that.

It’s a dumb, poorly constructed question. In case you don’t get the reference, it’s about the gif that Trump tweeted showing him as a wrestling bully attacking a figure with the CNN logo on its head. But it was Trump’s answer that sent me to the moon:

Yeah, I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them. … As you know, now they have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They’ve been covering me in a very, uh, very dishonest way.

“Do you have that also, by the way, Mr. President?” Trump said, in an aside to Polish President Andrzej Duda, who was standing next to him and who did not respond. Then Trump continued:

But CNN and others — and others; I mean NBC is equally as bad, despite the fact that I made them a fortune with ‘The Apprentice.’ But they forgot that.

But I will say that CNN has really taken it too seriously, and I think they’ve hurt themselves very badly, very, very badly. And what we want to see in the United States is honest, beautiful, free — but honest — press. We want to see fair press. I think it’s a very important thing. We don’t want fake news.

And by the way, not everybody is fake news. But we don’t want fake news. Bad thing. Very bad for our country.

OK, maybe this is just typical Trump. And it’s way, way obnoxioso. But the part that really got me was to suggest, just in passing as if this is the way everybody thinks, that the news division of NBC, the journalists, might be obligated to give him more sympathetic coverage than they have done, because he formerly starred in a (can I say pretty stupid) show, “The Apprentice,” because the show made NBC “a fortune.”

Skipping past the fact that the show made Trump a fortune also, how much deeper can you sink into runaway transactionalism, measured in dollars, than for the president of the United States to not only think, but publicly assert, that the news division of one of the three major broadcast networks owes him favorable coverage on that basis.

What are we gonna do with this guy?

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/07/2017 - 09:15 am.

    What are we going to do with this guy?

    Impeach him.
    Until then, isolate him (which is already happening by his own staff).

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 07/07/2017 - 05:35 pm.

      Screws get loose, doors falls off

      Pretty good Micheal Gerson opinion piece on that question yesterday.

      “How to handle an unhinged president

      “Most psychiatrists are (understandably) uncomfortable with diagnosing from a distance . . . And yet. There are judgments that must be made about the fitness of leaders. Citizens are under no ethical obligation to be silent when they see serious dysfunction . . .

      “The main problem is the possibility America has an unbalance president during a period of high-stakes global testing.”

      And then there are a few particular lyrics in Bob Dylan’s “Clothes line saga” I almost always think of when wondering about this part of the president’s getup:

      The next day everybody got up

      Seein’ if the clothes were dry

      The dogs were barking, a neighbor passed

      Mama, of course, she said, “Hi!”

      “Have you heard the news?” he said, with a grin

      “The Vice-President’s gone mad!”




      “Last night.”

      “Hmm, say, that’s too bad!”

      “Well, there’s nothin’ we can do about it,” said the neighbor

      “It’s just somethin’ we’re gonna have to forget”

      “Yes, I guess so,” said Ma

      Then she asked me if the clothes was still wet

      (And people wonder why he won the Nobel Prize for literature)

  2. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/07/2017 - 10:12 am.


    I am glad someone explained that unpredictability is not one of the qualities one looks for in an ally.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/07/2017 - 10:35 am.

    war by any means


    White House advisers have discussed a potential point of leverage over their adversary [CNN], a senior administration official said: a pending merger between CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T. Mr. Trump’s Justice Department will decide whether to approve the merger, and while analysts say there is little to stop the deal from moving forward, the president’s animus toward CNN remains a wild card.
    (end quote)

  4. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 07/07/2017 - 11:20 am.

    How many of Trump’s staff members, given another chance to volunteer for a job, would still say yes to their job. Tillerson seems to be the one closest to bailing out. I can’t feel sorry for him though. He knew Trump before taking the job. He is obviously smart, just not a good judge of character apparently. The Polish president’s wife is a good judge of character. Trump offered his hand to shake her hand yesterday and she walked around Trump to get to Melania. Trump got a stunned look on his face like doesn’t she know who I am? I’m tired of Trump making the US the laughing stock of the world. We can’t forget the Republicans own Trump and are not willing to do anything about him. We need to do more than just talk about impeaching Trump and get it done, times a wasting. Maybe even Republicans would be satisfied if Trump was REPEALED. Unfortunately the replacement is just as bad.

    • Submitted by Stephen Goodman on 07/10/2017 - 01:59 am.

      Disfunctioning Public Service in American

      Our founding fathers established in the Declaration of Independance that we Americans are governed by representatives “of the people, by the people and for the people”. It further stipulated that our government is built to insure and protect our ” inalienable rights to life, liberty and the persuit of happiness”. Donald Trump and the Republican Party forgot these basic principles and no longer find it necessary to properly represent their constituents.

  5. Submitted by Gene Nelson on 07/07/2017 - 03:33 pm.


    Difficult to understand why all Americans are not embarrassed by his regretful behavior towards women, our allies while loving the autocrat dictators, the handicapped, minorities, Mexicans, Muslims and just about everyone.The Evangelicals overwhelmingly like him.
    Also interesting that many on the right like to call us liberals commies, while their party is in bed with them. How does that make sense?

  6. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/10/2017 - 08:09 am.

    Puppet? No Puppet. You’re the Puppet.

    Trump is such a babe in the woods–talk about getting played.

    The true nature of his ignorance/naivete/bromance/puppetry is shown by his proclaiming an new proposal for a joint Putin/Trump anti-election hacking commision.

    Until he decides that it’s not playing well.

    How would an adult walk away from a meeting like that with a proposal like that ?

    Seriously ?

    And he thinks that there is something nefarious with the states reluctance to giving their election roll data to the White House ??

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/10/2017 - 10:17 am.

      Trump doesn’t care

      whether his pal Putin and the Russians get the better of the ‘deal’
      as long as he gets his cut.

Leave a Reply