It is tempting to chortle over the string of inanities that President Donald Trump unfurled at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, this weekend. Asked about the status of “Western liberalism,” which Russian President Vladimir Putin had just pronounced dead in an interview with the Financial Times, Trump ranted about liberal Democrats in California, apparently thinking that’s what the term was referring to. Asked for his views about bussing, which had been a hot topic at the recent Democratic candidates’ debate (and was a hotter topic still in the 1970s, when Trump was a sentient adult), he noted that buses are commonly used to transport students to school.
Yes, our president isn’t very bright; he has little grasp of political concepts, even those that underlie his country’s democratic traditions; he knows almost nothing about history and, worse still, sees nothing wrong with that. But all this has long been clear.
The true significance of Trump’s summit performance—a word that too many journalists invoke, as if they were drama critics—is that it solidified a trend we’ve been seeing for a while: his unabashed emergence as a member of what Daniel Sneider, in Asia Times, calls “the axis of authoritarianism.” [Continue reading…]