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Catching Up

Catching Up

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

There is something truly wrong when the President of the United States travels to the World Economic Summit in Davos and when–other than group shots–the only formally publicized meetings he holds are with Theresa May, Binyamin Netanyahu, and Paul Kagame. He clearly met with Kagame, the incoming President of the 55 State African Union, to try to apologize for his gross characterization of poor African countries. To Britain’s Prime Minister May, Trump needed to apologize for his fabrication of an alleged U.S. Embassy slight the cause for which he claimed to have cancelled his planned trip to Britain.  His meeting with Netanyahu, although it had the veneer of being about Iranian strategy, truly was a love-in for both sides. It represented probably one of the few bi-lateral meetings between heads of states that either could have been held without tension and recriminations from either side.

There are a lot of things wrong with this picture when the only one missing with whom Trump could have met as part of public sessions would have been Putin.


There is another bizarre side to the President’s junket to Davos. Trump goes to praise his America First doctrine to a group of world leaders and business executives whose very cause has long been predicated on a need to maximize multilateral trade and universal growth, and international understanding. The President once again enjoyed being feted on an international stage by so many people—many of whom were previously repulsed by him—but as matter of global diplomacy it his performance appears to have been underwhelming. This became especially true as various developments and announcements concerning the on-going Mueller Russia probe followed him to Europe and back.


There is a subtle plot playing out in the background of all the jockeying going on now between the Republicans and Democrats. There is a secondary, equally significant game being played by Trump and the various factions within the GOP and between Chuck Schumer and the numerous forces at play within the Democratic Party.  The plot or surprise will eventually erupt whenever Mueller and his team are ready to declare their findings. While this probably has at least several months to go, any of the savvy party pundits’ pre-election wisdom could go for naught depending on when Mueller’s results will be revealed in proximity to the 2018 congressional elections. It could come crashing down on Trump as many vulnerable Republicans run for the hills and desert the President’s agenda.

At the same time, there is much internal in-fighting growing within the Democratic Party.  As angry as they may be about some of Trump’s waffling and the lack of a consistent GOP approach to immigration in both chambers and with all wings of the Republican Party, they need to push the envelope as hard as they can and then move on. Congress has budget issues, the debt ceiling, plus a FY 2019 budget heading down the tracks. They also have a reduced campaign-year’s legislative calendar. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party may be totally correct on their principles but given the mixed public response to the three day shut-down, it may not be a wise road to take again. They do not understand Coach Vince Lombardi’s aphorism that “winning is not everything, winning is the only thing.” Next November, at least in the House, does appear to be theirs for the taking; but misguided internecine fighting could snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory

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