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August 31 2019
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… 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.”)

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