Lovely column by Jack Shafer. Sample:
If the mark of a great diplomat is the ability to speak craziness with a straight face, Tillerson earned admittance to the Dips Hall of Fame. A “framework” for cybersecurity cooperation would be set up between the two countries, he promised. This would be like going into the fencing business with the guy who burgled your house. Sounding more like a therapist than the secretary of state, Tillerson said, “We’re unhappy. They’re unhappy,” and explained that salvaging this “really important relationship” meant blotting out the recent unpleasantness. (Take a shot of amnesia and call me in the morning.) Then Tillerson produced a laugh line that topped his previous ones. “The Russians have asked for proof and evidence” of the meddling, he said. Perhaps he should buy Putin a subscription to the Washington Post.
And remember, Tillerson was the smart one representing the United States in the room.
The meeting was a giant exercise in “Don’t Think About Russian Meddling,” restoking speculation on what Putin might have on Trump. Back in the U.S.A., heavy sobbing sounded in the corridors of the deep state, where hankies and terry cloths were filled with tears. The gnashing commenced Thursday when Trump gave one of his rambling, having-it-both-ways speeches in which he concluded that the Russians meddled in our election but also that “nobody really knows” whether they did and besides it could have been “others.” This conflicts with the findings by every tier in the U.S. intelligence establishment, which insists the Russians—and the Russians alone—did it.
The biggest puzzle, of course, is why Trump fawned on Putin at the G-20. In the old days, when he was just a property developer, it might have made sense for him to suck up to Vlad when he was staging a beauty ‘pageant’ in Moscow and looking for Russian cooperation in his business ventures. And, Shafer writes,
As many have noted, he has a natural affinity for strong men bound by nothing more than their own appetites. But the display in Hamburg defies reason. Instead of acting like the leader of the first world, Trump is acting like a job applicant, beveling his words so as not to offend Putin. The same goes for his secretary of state. As the G-20 talks slip into the rear-view mirror, Trump has positioned himself in Putin’s garden as a piece of statuary, perhaps a toad, locked into a perpetual smile in the direction of his master.