Max Boot: Trump’s war on truth

“Ratcliffe has no qualifications in the intelligence field, but he does have a history of slavish loyalty to Trump — as he demonstrated by berating and maligning special counsel Robert S. Mueller III…”

Max Boot: Tucker Carlson 2024?

“[Carlson] is more intelligent and disciplined than Trump. He could well be the new leader of authoritarianism in America. If that were to happen, we may look back nostalgically on our present craziness as the calm before the storm.”

Max Boot: Trump is a bigot

“Trump is a bigot and doesn’t even bother to hide it. In fact — and this is the truly appalling part — he parades his bigotry in the expectation that it will win him votes.”

Post Opinions: Darroch was right about Trump

“We don’t know if Mr. Darroch tried to explain that aberrant behavior in one of his cables. But he did write that the Trump administration was unlikely “to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.” To which we can only say: Right you are, Mr. Ambassador.”

Sarah Longwell: ‘The Breakup’

“There aren’t enough tax cuts and judges in the world to justify a president who stands on the stage with Vladimir Putin and sides against America’s intelligence community; who ignores, if not invites, foreign interference in our elections and normalizes unprecedented levels of corruption and incompetence; who abdicates moral leadership both at home and abroad; who lies and obstructs justice and then lies about obstructing justice.”

Leah Litman: The latest chapter in the Gorsuch-Kavanaugh saga is the most revealing yet

“Of all the dynamics at play in the Supreme Court’s just-concluded term, none was more intriguing than this latest chapter in the story of Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. Graduates of the same high school, members of the same Supreme Court clerks’ class and now fellow Supreme Court justices, the differences between their conservative philosophies — especially in the realms of criminal justice and respect for precedent — began to emerge this term.”

Jennifer Rubin: Kamala Harris hits a home run

Harris, not unlike several middle-tier contenders last night, had the chance to mightily improve her standing. And boy did she. She was the clear standout on the stage, mixing righteous anger, biographical stories and prosecutorial toughness. She demonstrated just how her toughness and prosecutorial experience could be wielded — not just against Democrats but eventually against President Trump.

Jennifer Rubin: Ranking the Democrats’ debate performances

“The first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 cycle, in Miami on Wednesday, marked the informal end of the campaign ‘preseason’ and beginning of the real primary battle. In the lead-up, some critics anticipated that a format with 10 candidates and five moderators squeezed into just two hours (including commercials) would not give us much insight into any single contender. But as things played out, we learned a lot.”

Dana Milbank: Remember when conservatives believed no one was above the law?

“Such is the pull of partisan tribalism that, given the choice between defending the law and defending a Trump mouthpiece, Republican lawmakers chose the latter. Not that this is surprising. Jordan’s campaign spent more than $10,000 at Trump properties last year, and Politico reports that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are speaking at a Jordan fundraiser next month…In turn, these lawmakers defend the Trump administration when it breaks the law — not just in nuanced cases such as special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, but even in the case of Conway’s stark illegality.”

Dana Milbank: Trump demands subservience and gets incompetence

“The common thread to the mayhem and bungling is Trump’s insistence on staffing his government with officials serving in temporary, “acting” roles at the pleasure of the president and without the stature or protection of Senate confirmation. This allows Trump to demand absolute subservience from appointees. Because he can replace them at will, they don’t contradict him. But this tentative status also means they lack authority within their agencies and the stature to stand up to Trump when he’s wrong.”

Lee Hamilton: Voter suppression isn’t democracy

“Voting is a basic right of citizenship. It’s the foundation of a democracy—people’s ability to participate and engage with the issues facing their communities and their country. That ideal lies at the core of American values, and I’m always mindful of the fact that a lot of Americans gave their lives for that ideal. Moreover, excluding groups of voters encourages resentment, risking protests and potentially violence. … Winning power by keeping people away from the polls is a perversion of what democracy is about. Our political institutions need to reflect the will of the people, and if you disenfranchise people, it means our representative government doesn’t reflect accurately the will of the people.”

Alexander Gorlach: Dual victory for democracy

“In the past two weeks…it has become apparent that people are no longer willing to accept everything from the so-called ‘strongmen,’ as they like to call themselves. This is the lesson from the events in Istanbul and Hong Kong, that ‘everything will be fine.’ Contrary to what populists all over the world would have us believe, for the vast majority of people democracy remains the desired form of government. Democracy, in this context, also means a state order based on the recognition and enforcement of human rights.”

WaPo Ed Board: Trump unfazed by Khashoggi

“The premeditated murder of a contributing columnist who believed in democracy does not concern [Donald Trump], but the care and feeding of the dictatorial kingdom that sent the killers gets his lavish attention and slavish devotion. What does the United States get in return? Complicity in a criminal war in Yemen, and an indelible stain on its moral record.”

Ami Ayalon, Gilead Sher & Orni Petruschka: Trump’s peace plan is immoral, impractical—and could blow up the Middle East

“As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Yet it is not clear whether Trump’s intentions are good or merely seek to do Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a political favor. Presenting Abbas with an impossible choice will allow Netanyahu to win another round of the blame game and accuse the Palestinians of backing away from a good deal, playing into Netanyahu’s electoral base that rejects a two-state solution. But the result may be more death and an escalation that would delay constructive talks—and a Mideast anti-Iran coalition—for years.”

Jennifer Rubin: It’s time to stop taking the Trump admin’s word for it on Iran

“The fundamental problem remains: Without allies and without a credible use of force, ‘maximum pressure’ is a dead end. The regime in Tehran is not going to collapse and beg for negotiations, especially since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid down 12 preconditions for talks that amount to regime change. Some foreign policy watchers, while critical of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — better known as the Iran nuclear deal — opposed pulling out precisely because the alternatives were unattractive and created problems of their own (such as a rift with allies). Not surprisingly, Trump has been shown to be a paper tiger, our allies view his conduct as provocative and Iran actually is learning the wrong lesson, namely that it can escape real consequences for its actions.”

Eugene Robinson: This is the reality of Trump’s America

“President Trump’s immigration policy has crossed the line from gratuitous cruelty to flat-out sadism. Perhaps he enjoys seeing innocent children warehoused in filth and squalor. Perhaps he thinks that’s what America is all about. Is he right, Trump supporters? Is he right, Republicans in Congress? Is this what you want?”

Dana Milbank: Trump heroically saves us from himself

“Not surprisingly, Axios reports that Trump has withdrawn one nominee for every 11 confirmations and has withdrawn twice as many as President Barack Obama had by this point. Several more, such as defense secretary pick Patrick Shanahan, were withdrawn before they were formally nominated. Turnover on the job, similarly, has been historically high, as Trump now attempts to dissociate himself from appointees who probably wouldn’t have been there in the first place if Trump had paid attention to the vetting reports. It’s another case of saving the world from himself. Failure, you might say, was cocked and loaded.”

Rep Mike Quigley: Impeachment imperative

“Our democracy is at its best when the American people are in a position to fully trust in their government and institutions. Throughout my career, I have fought to ensure that our elected officials are transparent and held accountable so voters can draw their own conclusions. I have never been a reactionary. I am not someone who has called for the president’s removal from day one. I believe in a thoughtful, measured approach. Opening an impeachment inquiry is the most appropriate way to ensure that Congress and the American people have a full accounting of the facts.”

Alina Polyakova & Daniel Fried: Europe is tackling disinfo, but US is lagging

“State-sponsored disinformation campaigns are upping their game, and they won’t be limited to election cycles. Democracies are still playing catch-up — the United States barely so. It’s time for the United States to step up, work with Europe and together pull together like-minded governments, social media companies and civil society groups to learn from each other. With resources, time, attention and especially political will, we can develop a democratic defense against disinformation.”

Hans Binnendijk: Trump’s war?

“Trump’s negotiating style has dug a deep hole for him that he will have trouble climbing out of. Trump tears up agreements he does not like and seeks new ones. He threatens and bullies to strengthen his negotiating position. He then tries to reconcile and diffuse the crisis he has created by engaging in high-wire negotiations. Finally, he hypes whatever modest deal emerges as his own stellar victory. This may work on occasion in real estate deals, and it might even have succeeded with Mexico. It is not working well with China or North Korea. And it certainly is not working so far with Iran.”

Salt Lake Tribune Ed Board: Yes, they’re concentration camps

“The argument that our government’s failings don’t matter because the migrants have broken the law is legally and morally bankrupt. People have a moral right to seek a better life, and a legal right to seek asylum. If our border and immigration system isn’t up to the task, that’s not their fault, it is ours. Federal officials, from the White House on down, work for us, spend our money, act in our name. We hold them to account, not the huddled masses. Complaining that we shouldn’t have to deal with this crisis is like carping that forests shouldn’t burn and rivers shouldn’t rise. Our nation is operating concentration camps for refugee children. We need to stop denying that and decide if we are comfortable with that fact. And how we will explain it to our children.”

James Downie: Mike Pence is just helpless

“Of course, the administration is facing a massive spike in illegal border crossings and asylum claims as migrants flee a crisis in Central America. But Trump, Pence and the rest of the administration have made increased detention of migrants a centerpiece of their record both policy-wise and politically. Why? Well, it may not be polite to speculate that the current administration is affected by xenophobia and prejudice. Yet if these victims were white, I suspect the vice president and the entire Trump administration would find the problem a whole lot more urgent.”

Max Boot: With Iran, Trump needs to put up or shut up

“These lies may seem small, but they are actually quite telling, because they go to the issue of motivation. Trump would like the world to believe that he called off the airstrikes because he is a humanitarian and ‘not a warmonger.’ But the evidence suggests he was really motivated by conversations with the likes of Tucker Carlson, who told him, according to the Times, that the ‘hawks’ urging retaliation against Iran ‘did not have the president’s best interests at heart … [and] if Mr. Trump got into a war with Iran, he could kiss his chances of re-election goodbye.'”

Charles Blow: Trump’s ‘concentration camps’

“Folks, we can use any form of fuzzy language we want, but the United States under Donald Trump is currently engaged in an unconscionable act. He promised to crack down on immigrants and yet under him immigrants seeking asylum have surged. And he is meeting the surge with indescribable cruelty. Donald Trump is running concentration camps at the border. The question remains: what are we going to do about it?”

NY Times: We need cooler heads than Trump and the warhawk caucus

“It’s now President Trump who faces a crisis in credibility — over the wisdom of abandoning nuclear diplomacy in favor of confrontation; over the legality of using the 2001 terrorist attacks as a legal justification for another conflict in the Middle East; over the morality of enabling a conflict in Yemen, which the United Nations calls the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster. Most concerning, despite his stated aversion to entering another war, he shows little sign of having learned a central lesson of the past two decades of American military action: that it is easy to start conflicts and impossible to predict how they might end.”

A G Sulzberger: Trump’s ‘treason’ accusation crosses line

“[T]he president’s rhetorical attacks continue to foster a climate in which trust in journalists is eroding and violence against them is growing. More than a quarter of Americans—and a plurality of Republicans—now agree that ‘the news media is the enemy of the American people’ and ‘the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.’ A worldwide surge of attacks has made this the most dangerous year for journalists on record. This is particularly true in parts of the world where pursuing the truth already carries great risks, as news reporters and editors experience rising levels of censorship, harassment, imprisonment, and murder.”

A D Miller & R Sokolsky: War with Iran? Bad idea

“At best, should the U.S. go to war against Iran, it will be able to muster the diplomatic and perhaps military support of four countries: the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel. Otherwise, the rest of the world has been completely put off by the Trump administration’s unilateralism, belligerent nationalism, its decision to leave the nuclear agreement without a compelling cause, and actions that are clearly aimed at provoking a military confrontation with Iran. A war with Iran without significant international support, and perceived to be America’s fault, would leave the U.S. isolated and bearing full responsibility. More than likely, this kind of unilateralism would hand Russia and China—and Iran—an enormous propaganda advantage and weaken U.S. leverage in the days after.”

Nicholas Kristof: Trump and Iran may be on a collision course, and it could get scarier

“In 2002, six months before the Iraq war, I reported from Baghdad that President George W. Bush and his aides were deluding themselves to think that Iraqis would welcome an invasion; Iraqis hated Saddam but hated even more the idea of Yankee imperialists attacking their nation. Iran is similar but more formidable. Negotiations are frustrating, imperfect and uncertain, and they may seem less satisfying than dropping bombs.”

Robert Schertzer: Combating nationalism

“Some suggest that to defeat nationalism, we should partly embrace what nationalists are saying. Supporters of this approach call for protectionist economic policies, less immigration, and more programs aimed at boosting the national culture. They believe we need to take what nationalists are saying seriously in order to effectively address the grievances of many majority groups around the world, including Trump’s ‘true Americans.’ This would be a mistake. Giving in to the darker, exclusionary tendencies of nationalist dogma can too easily lead to violence and horrible injustices.”

Max Boot: Another yes-man bites the dust

“But while Trump appreciates Cabinet members who do not check his erratic impulses, America’s national security is not served by having yes-men or yes-women in senior positions of responsibility. Note that the crisis, which is drawing the United States and Iran to the brink of hostilities, did not start in earnest until after [Gen. James] Mattis had left the Pentagon. Mattis had been a brake on Trump; [Patrick] Shanahan was an enabler.”

Thomas Friedman: Trump’s only FP goal? One-up Obama

“This is what you get, folks, when you have a president who acts from the gut, not with well-thought-out plans, who is enamored with strongmen dictators more than our democratic allies, who is backed by a party and a TV network that simply parrot everything he says and never call him out, who thinks the enemy has no vote, and who doesn’t understand the first rule of Middle East politics.”