What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 30, 2018

The Post-Gazette Continues To Give Political Cover To Donald J. Trump

The confusing right-ward shift of the P-G editorial board continues - sometimes in subtle ways as seen with a recent editorial.

(By the way, the discussion of the P-G's shift has reached as high as the Columbia Journalism Review.)

Anyway, back to the P-G editorial.  It opens with this:
Days after Vladimir Putin’s massive, engineered victory March 18 in Russia’s elections, he has been hit, first, with a tragedy and, second, with an unusually steadfast reaction by the West to his latest rogue act — the alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter by Russian agents.
A few paragraphs later we read:
Russia continues to deny having carried out the attack, and Mr. Putin’s having authorized it. The British maintain stoutly that their investigation validates the charge.

And now, after some delay, the West has responded. The poisoning has resulted in the expulsion of some 100 Russian spies from 26 countries, including 60 from the United States.
Which is followed immediately by:
President Donald Trump deserves credit for joining the United Kingdom, 17 other European Union nations and NATO and other allies in the expulsions and in condemning the Salisbury attack.
Subtle. Trump deserves credit. But what, exactly, did he do? And how much credit should he "deserve"?

The Washington Post reported:
State Department officials said Trump signed off on the recommendation to expel the diplomats but was not heavily engaged in the discussion leading up to Monday’s announcement. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal processes.

The administration last week began considering expulsions of a minimum of 20 diplomats, and State Department and White House officials recommended the higher number, officials said.
Trump wanted fewer diplomats expelled. The State Department recommended more and he signed off on their recommendation. Otherwise he was "not heavily engaged in the discussion" regarding the expulsions.

As former CIA Director Michael Hayden explained on NPR:
Hayden said it wasn't actually Trump's decision, and the idea for a mass expulsion of Russia diplomats originated in the UK and the State Department.
Specifically:
Hayden said he didn't think "this was something that the president demanded be pulled out of the bureaucracy, that he asked for options and said "give me the tough one." I don't think so. I think that actually came from the bureaucracy, actually came from the national security establishment, and actually came from the allies who did want to act in concert."
How much credit should he get for that? For simply not getting in the way of the grown-ups?

For a post-Obama Post-Gazette editorial board that wants little more than to kiss some orange Trump-butt, this is enough.

MAGA!

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