Quick Takes: Trump Noise Drowns Out the News

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

One of the things we should all know by now about Donald Trump is that he thrives on creating controversy and chaos. He’s been very successfully at doing that. This is one of those days when the chaos he created overwhelmed some important news stories. If all you heard about today is that Trump made some asinine comments about Obama not calling Gold Star families, here’s what you missed:

* From the BBC: “IS ‘capital’ falls to US-backed Syrian forces.”

A US-backed alliance of Syrian fighters says it has taken full control of Raqqa, ending three years of rule in the city by so-called Islamic State.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Talal Sello said the fighting was over after a four-month assault.

Clearing operations were now under way to uncover any jihadist sleeper cells and remove landmines, he added.

* Kevin Drum reports: “The War Against ISIS Is All But Over. Thanks, Obama.”

[Obama] did the right thing: he kept the US footprint light; he avoided rules of engagement that would inflame the very people we were trying to liberate; and he understood that the only route to victory lay in a slow but steady campaign. It wasn’t sexy, but it worked.

In a few weeks or months, Donald Trump will announce that we’ve won the war against ISIS. Will he give Obama any recognition for this? Of course not. So that means the rest of us will have to do it for him.

* What Trump tried to destroy last week, Senators Murray and Alexander have come up with a plan to fix.

On Tuesday, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) announced a deal that would fund the cost-sharing reduction payments for two years, make it easier for states to waive some health care regulations, and restore the budget for open enrollment outreach Trump gutted earlier this fall.

* The Trump administration’s attempt to re-negotiate NAFTA isn’t going well.

In the clearest public indication that talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement are going poorly, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland blasted the U.S. for the first time on Tuesday while U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer blasted Canada and Mexico…

Freeland denounced the U.S. for “an approach that seeks to undermine NAFTA rather than modernize it,” warning that the “unconventional” proposals from President Donald Trump’s administration would “turn back the clock” and put tens of thousands of jobs at risk.

Lighthizer, meanwhile, criticized both Canada and Mexico for what he called a “resistance to change,” saying he was “surprised and disappointed” they were obviously acting to defend the “unfair advantage” possessed by Canadian and Mexican companies.

The three parties announced that they would take the trade equivalent of a timeout, starting the fifth round of negotiations a month from now rather than their usual two weeks.

* Here is how a source described the problem to CBC:

The source says it appears some members of the U.S. delegation are uncomfortable with the demands they are presenting, which appear to have been dictated to them by the Trump administration.

“They don’t like what they are doing,” says the source, who was not authorized to speak about the talks on the record.

There also appears to be a sense of confusion about the overall U.S. vision for NAFTA and who is really running the show.

* Another Trump travel ban…another defeat in the courts.

A federal judge in Hawaii blocked the Trump administration Tuesday from enforcing its latest travel ban, just hours before it was set to take effect.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson granted Hawaii’s request to temporarily block the policy that was to be implemented starting early Wednesday. He found Trump’s executive order “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor.”

* Finally, on that story that is consuming so much oxygen today, I’m going to go with the old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words. God bless the Obamas for always being the comforters we needed.

 

 

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.