… the Chosen One, who, having announced that he would raise tariffs on Chinese goods and referred to President Xi Jinping as the “enemy,” in short order declared that Xi was in fact “a great leader” and that, anyway, he was having “second thoughts” about those tariffs. Or was he? White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the president’s remarks had been “greatly misinterpreted.” This seems plausible: “second thoughts” implies there were first thoughts to begin with, and there’s never been much evidence of that.
But the misunderstanding did get the G7 meetings off to a rollicking start, and over several days in Biarritz, host and new leader of the Free World Emmanuel Macron played the Chosen One like a stringed instrument. (Specifically? O.K., we’ll go with the double bass.) A very busy Stephanie Grisham attributed the president’s absence from a climate gathering to “scheduled meetings” with Germany and India, although, curiously, Trump’s German and Indian counterparts—Angela Merkel and Narendra Modi—were at the climate confab. Trump was probably just grabbing some “executive time.” In any event, the G7 leaders offered Brazil $20 million to fight the devastating Amazon wildfires, but the money was refused by President Jair Bolsonaro because he felt insulted. (Let’s see: thin-skinned, anti-environment, autocratic, with tanking approval ratings … this rings a bell. Cue the American president, who, predictably, tweeted that Bolsonaro is “working very hard on the Amazon fires” and “doing a great job for the people of Brazil.”)
The president wrapped up his G7 adventure by inviting everyone to Florida for next year’s gathering (his Doral resort was desirable “in terms of parking, in terms of all of the things that you need”), and revealing that “the First Lady has gotten to know Kim Jong Un” (whom she has never met)—necessitating a very, very busy Stephanie Grisham to clarify that, “while the First Lady hasn’t met him, the president feels like she’s gotten to know him, too.”
Evidently rejuvenated from having accomplished so much in Biarritz, Trump returned to Washington and settled into the presidential Barcalounger for some quality time with his thumbs, including a series of indignant denials of a report that he’d proposed stopping hurricanes by nuking them. (The Chosen One doth protest too much, wethinks.) “LameStream Media coverage bore NO relationship to what actually happened in France,” he also tweeted. “FAKE NEWS”—speaking of which, “They do stories so big on Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren’s crowd sizes, adding many more people than are actually there, and yet my crowds, which are far bigger, get no coverage at all.” And this oddity: “A made up Radical Left Story about Doral bedbugs, but Bret Stephens is loaded up with them! Been calling me wrong for years, along with the few remaining Never Trumpers - All Losers!”
For the record: Stephens, a New York Times columnist, does not have bedbugs. Rather, he is a bedbug, according to a casual, jokey tweet by a George Washington University associate professor that would have passed unnoticed had not Stephens responded with an e-mail, sounding unhappy (“Call me a ‘bedbug’ to my face”) and, in what might well have been a tactical error, cc’ing the academic’s provost. Virtually all the ensuing backlash was directed not at the professor, or even at bedbugs, but at Stephens.
Well, if it’s any consolation to the columnist, it wasn’t a very good week for Johnson & Johnson ($572 million in damages) or the Sacklers ($3 billion proposed settlement), either. —George Kalogerakis