Weekly Letter to the President
Copyright © 2017
ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
June 9, 2017 (posted June 12, 2017)
Mr. President: When Donald Trump began his presidential campaign no one believed
he could possibly be elected. When David Cameron went to the country on EU
membership, he could not imagine 'Remain' losing. So it was with Theresa May.
Ahead in the polls by 21 points she sought an unassailable majority.
Whatever the reasons -- and there are many -- she received a drubbing, her party
down by 13 seats. Instead of increasing her majority, she actually lost it. Yet she has
cobbled together a working majority coalition and will remain prime minister. The real
question is how long?
Safer to be feared than loved, advised Machiavelli. She is neither. Her co-chiefs of
staff Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy have commanded a Fortress May, resistant to
advice, aggressive to the extent of upsetting colleagues even members, and where
reporting bad news is thought disloyal. The whole reminiscent of the Nixon
presidency rather than, say, Ronald Reagan whose humor often deflected serious
issues -- as when he observed he wasn't worried about the deficit ... it's big enough to
take care of itself.
Shut out as they were, colleagues left May to run the election campaign -- one of the
worst and notable only in her absence from public view. In contrast, and to
everyone's surprise, Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn ran a superb campaign. He
accepted the fact of Brexit including the immigration restrictions to follow EU departure
even though he had been opposed to it. He looked ahead and focused on ways to
help with jobs, housing, etc. As a result the Labor Party, written off by some
commentators as about to disappear as a viable opposition, actually gained 32 seats,
ousting several government ministers in supposedly safe seats with comfortable past
majorities. His clearly left agenda prompted his post-election claim, "We've changed
the face of British politics." The Labor Party's showing clearly strengthens the grip of
the left within it.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, Donald Trump was entertaining a leader
from Europe. If a reader's thoughts fly to Emmanuel Macron the new French
president, it is perfectly logical. But no. It was President Klaus Iohannis of Romania.
They talked about the 2 percent of GDP NATO Defense spending guideline, which
Mr. Trump insists on labeling a 'contribution?' And Mr. Iohannis desired visa-free
travel to the U.S. for Romanians.
They talked about NATO's Article 5 referring to common defense, which in Romania's
context can have only one meaning: The U.S. would come to the aid of Romania in
the event of a Russian attack. Not a soul in the U.S. would support war with Russia,
with a possibility of being blown up, on Romania's behalf. Sad, but true, as the
Hungarians learned in 1956.
If Theresa May has her troubles, so does Donald Trump. James Comey, the F.B.I.
Director he fired, has been testifying under oath before the Senate Select Committee
on Intelligence and called him a liar. Lucky for Trump, it is not so easy to remove an
elected U.S. president as it is to change a Conservative Party leader in Britain.