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We've sent in the clown

Donald Trump takes his comedy act on the road to Europe this week. It probably won't be pretty.

A senior German official puts it this way:  "People are less worried than they were six weeks ago, less afraid. Now they see the clownish nature." As another German put it, "People here think Trump is a laughingstock."

Things are in a sorry state when relief among our closest allies is occasioned less by a new president whose rhetoric frightened them turning out not to be as bad as they had thought, but rather by his turning out to be a harmless clown too inept to do much damage, except perhaps by accident. Yet that is how the world sees our blundering buffoon of a president.  I said on Election Night that America had made itself a laughingstock in the eyes of the world by electing as obviously unprepared, uninformed, egotistical, loud-mouthed braggart to lead it when it was so obvious even then that that was what we were doing. Wishing our new president well was good and proper, but being who he was there was simply no way this was going to end well, for him, for us, or for the world.

Worse, I wrote, Trump is a stain not only on escutcheon of the Republican party (how can it ever be taken seriously again as a party of principle when it rolled over so passively for an enemy of free trade, an admirer of tyrants, and an advocate of socialist-style healthcare? ) but on the honor of the nation, and that stain will not soon fade.

By the way, when our president recently said that single-payer is the way to go, that was nothing new. It's been his position for years. He repeated it during the primary campaign; it seems that many Republicans weren't listening. But then, since they voted for Trump when they had better and genuinely conservative options, that's sort of a given.

How can he be in favor of single-payer healthcare and the Republican replacement plan for Obamacare some are calling "Trumpcare" at the same time? Simple. He's as erratic in his philosophy as he is in his behavior.  What has been true in the past remains true now: he has no real policy on health care, or on anything else. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment, or whatever will benefit him now. He has no philosophy. He has no principles. He is not a serious man, and no serious man or woman can take him seriously.

So they don't. Trump is a laughingstock all over the world. They're openly laughing about him even in Russia and the damage that is being done to American interests all over the world is enormous.

That it would be so should have been obvious more than a year ago to anyone who was paying attention to who Trump was and what he had done and said in the past. But comparatively few people- including not only his core of alt-right supporters but Republicans generally- were aware of it, and when some of us tried to point out the obvious, we were ignored and dismissed. That is changing only slowly now that our fears are being vindicated before the eyes of an amused and scornful world.

They're not just laughing at Trump, people. They're laughing at all of us. They're laughing at America. And America deserves it. America did this to itself.

America is paying a very large price for letting ignorance and undisciplined anger and hatred of an admittedly wrong-headed and nasty but far more competent opponent dictate its choice of a president, and a large percentage of the American people are still, even now, too clueless to notice.


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