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In Asia, Trump let flow a gushing stream of nonsense

Eugene Robinson on

Unbelievably, Trump described former U.S. officials who say Putin is lying -- fired FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper -- as "political hacks." Trump later said grudgingly that he has confidence in U.S. intelligence agencies "as currently constituted" -- now that they are led by Trump appointees.

Someday we will learn why Trump, usually so full of bluster, becomes as deferential as a puppy dog whenever he's around Putin. Maybe special counsel Robert Mueller will provide the answer.

It is reasonable to assume that all the governments whose leaders Trump encountered during the trip have consulted psychologists for advice on how to push Trump's buttons. The host nations all came up with the same answer: pomp and circumstance.

"It was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever seen," Trump said -- ridiculously -- of the overall welcome he received. And yes, there were red carpets everywhere. And glittering banquets. And opportunities to review the troops.

Chinese President Xi Jinping laid it on thickest, personally taking Trump and the first lady on a tour of the Forbidden City and hosting a state dinner -- Trump called it "state-plus-plus" -- in the cavernous Great Hall of the People. Xi clearly understands how much Trump loves flattery and ceremony, as opposed to substance.

Meanwhile, as Trump incomprehensibly pursues a policy of "America first" neo-isolationism -- refusing even to adequately staff the U.S. diplomatic corps -- China moves globally to fill the vacuum. Japan and South Korea wonder whether the U.S. nuclear umbrella still protects them. And the nations Trump abandoned when he nixed the Trans-Pacific Partnership have moved forward to form a trade pact of their own -- without us.

 

This is what happens when a very big nation is led by a very small man.

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Eugene Robinson's email address is eugenerobinson@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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