It was just six days ago that Donald Trump spoke briefly with reporters on the White House’s South Lawn, as he prepared to depart for his overseas trip. “We’ll see what happens,” the president said. “We have a long, beautiful week.”
Long? Maybe. Beautiful? Not so much.
* Tuesday, July 10: Trump lashed out at NATO allies via Twitter, misstated the size of the U.S. trade deficit with European Union, and incoherently called on NATO member nations to “reimburse” the United States.
* Wednesday, July 11: From Brussels, Trump threw a bit of a tantrum and blasted a key U.S. ally, falsely accusing Germany of being a “captive of Russia” and being “totally controlled by Russia.” At a breakfast with Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, Trump again claimed that “many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money,” which isn’t true, and which was based on Trump’s ongoing confusion about how NATO financing works.
* Thursday, July 12: Trump launched into a behind-closed doors tirade, forced NATO members into an emergency session, and further alienated U.S. allies. He then proceeded to hold a press conference, claiming to have secured financial commitments from NATO members that, according to multiple foreign governments, didn’t actually exist.
* Friday, July 13: The Sun, a British tabloid, published an interview with Trump in which he condemned Prime Minister Theresa May’s handling of Brexit, and in the process, he created another international incident with a key American ally. Later in the day, he somehow managed to screw up walking alongside Queen Elizabeth II.
* Saturday, July 14: Ignoring any sense of ethics or propriety, Trump visited – and heavily promoted – his golf course in Scotland, which he still owns and tries to profit from. The day after massive anti-Trump protests in England, the American president faced additional protests in Scotland. The same day, Trump said that “many, many” of the street demonstrations were in support of his presidency, a claim which was apparently hopelessly bonkers.
* Sunday, July 15: Asked by CBS News to identify the United States’ “biggest foe globally right now.” Trump pointed to our allies in the European Union, adding, “You wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.” Later in the day, the American president endorsed Russian propaganda criticizing the United States, to the delight of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
* Monday, July 16: Trump held a disastrous press conference alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he defended an American adversary, took cheap shots at Americans, and rejected the judgment of American intelligence professionals.
Plenty of presidents have had unsuccessful foreign trips, but there’s no precedent for a six-day fiasco like this one. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) this afternoon pointed to Trump’s trip as a series of “calamitous” events,” which seems more than fair under the circumstances.
There’s no getting around the fact that the United States is in a worse position now than it was a week ago.