Missing the Point

In the wake of Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords, apologists have gone into overdrive. Even those who recognize that climate change is real have pooh poohed the significance of our withdrawal; after all, the goals were voluntary and weak, and anyway, America’s cities and states are stepping up to the plate, so we’ll probably make our goals even without participating in a formal agreement.

A recent article in Time is typical of the many arguments that what looks like a sow’s ear might really be a silk purse in disguise:

Trump knew his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the climate agreement would provoke global outrage, and it did. For Trump, the economy is the priority. But Trump’s promise to revive the coal industry isn’t going to happen; instead, the opposite will occur. And it’s safe to say that by 2020 — the earliest date that the U.S. can technically withdraw from the climate pact — Trump could point to his decision even as he points at all the shuttered coal plants, and say: “See, I told you we didn’t need the Paris deal. America’s emissions went down regardless, and our economy became stronger without it.”

Let’s parse that paragraph. If Trump knew the decision would provoke outrage, he should have recognized that such outrage would make it more difficult to achieve other goals, both domestic and international, so why do it? As even the apologists have conceded, the targets we had endorsed were entirely voluntary; the administration could simply have ignored any that they felt were bad for the American economy.

What we’ve seen of this deeply disturbed man suggests that he withdrew because it would provoke outrage. Trump likes to stir the pot, and he desperately needs to be the center of attention. Achieving his goals quietly (assuming he has goals unconnected to his ego), without fanfare, doesn’t feed his narcissism.

And what about that statement that the economy is his priority? Where’s the evidence that Trump has even the slightest understanding of economic policy? His insistence that he will bring back a coal industry that even coal company CEOs admit is no longer viable should have been a clue to his cluelessness.

And arguing that we will meet our emissions goals without being party to the Paris Accords misses the point. The point is: symbolism matters, and it matters a lot.

When President Obama led the negotiations that produced the Paris Accords, he was signaling that the United States remained the world’s leader. He was demonstrating this nation’s willingness to work with countries around the globe to address common challenges, and our willingness to do the hard work of analyzing relevant science and working through thorny political barriers in order to hammer out an agreement.

Obama’s commitment to the process sent a message to the rest of the world, and it was a message that enhanced American stature and our ability to exercise global “soft power.”

The message sent by Donald Trump’s exit from that hard-won agreement was exactly the opposite: America is no longer a steadfast global presence, no longer a source of reassuring leadership in a dangerous world.

Under a volatile, unpredictable, and profoundly ignorant President and his cabinet of intellectual and moral pygmies, America is withdrawing from global leadership. (As Angela Merkel put it, in her typically understated way, America is “no longer a reliable ally.”)

Whatever the practical effect of withdrawal on our ability to fight climate change, the symbolism was devastating. Far from making America “great,” it diminished us and significantly weakened our influence around the world.

It was yet another unforced error by a man who tweets them daily.


  1. His definition of great is certainly different from mine, but I think the real reason he pulled out of the Paris Accord was that it was Obama’s deal. He would obliterate the Obama name from History, if he could.

  2. Ego. There isn’t much strategy to break down when dealing with a self-centered individual. He pulled out for exactly why Peggy stated, “It was Obama’s deal.”

    That’s all you need to know.

    Don’t worry about why Trump does what he does…it’s the consequences. The European Union is a mecca for liberals, so his alternative right-wing Nazi’s want to hurt the EU and NATO. “Why should the USA protect a bunch of liberals?”

    Trump and his loyalists are Brexit folks. The young people just sent May and the UK a message by expanding the seats for Labour. Her Tory party is eating itself.

    Hopefully, all of Trump’s alternative right-wing nonsense will spur the same response in the USA.

    However, it will not come from the Democratic Party. Read David Sirota’s interview with Bernie Sanders from the People’s Summit. 😉

  3. “Trump KNEW his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the climate agreement would provoke global outrage, and it did.”

    How can Time possibly know what Trump KNEW??

    There is ample evidence that Trump KNOWS nothing unless it is the last “fact” he hears, whereupon that “fact” is trashed by Trump and replaced by a newer “fact”.

  4. The biggest “unforced error” was the vote for Trump in the first place.

    And an error by omission was made by Congress when they did not address the electoral college mess years ago when another election went to someone who had not won the majority of votes.

    Should a great country really be making so many big errors?

  5. (As Angela Merkel put it, in her typically understated way, America is “no longer a reliable ally.”)

    The damage that Trump is doing to our reputation for global leadership will be very difficult to recover from. It will take a lot of hard work by the next President to even begin to repair our relationships with other countries.

    It is so much easier to prove that you cannot be trusted than it is to prove that you can be trusted.

  6. First; I expect everyone to post comments telling me how wonderful I am and what an honor it is to await my daily verbiage. And, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes of this.” Now that I have that out of my system I will move on.

    Peggy and Cathy; Trump has only one point, on his head which he covers with that ridiculous hairpiece. Every move he made has been anti-Obama and to see “liberals” heads explode; contrary to his highly publicized wonderfulness by the cabinet yesterday, he has accomplished nothing of value to and for America or Americans. He has surpassed in less than five months, more damage than any president has accomplished in a four-year term. He has however accomplished his goal of finding a new way to fuck up our getting any news but what he has done, said, demanded, signed with his Sharpie or Tweeted during his sleepless nights. He totally controls our airwaves which feeds his ego. I would suggest we seek brief reports periodically regarding his actions, no matter how idiotic, and find local, national and international NEWS relating to the rest of the world but…he is far too dangerous to ignore.

    Maybe that is the point of Congress backing him as he destroys all forward motion accomplished under the Obama administration and is destroying diplomatic relations with our allies. He has alienated Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, France and threatened North Korea with nuclear attacks. OUR point needs to be to sift through the bullshit to know where the greatest danger is most imminent. Yes; I have said since his “pullout” from the Paris Accords that his action would not stop those in this country who will continue doing what we can to protect the environment and those who have always ignored EPA regulations will continue doing so with no worry about sanctions from this administration.

    Sorry for the language but I have run out of nice language to deal with my days under this lunatic. His greatest danger to all of us is believing he is a total fool and thereby harmless. That is my point for the day…it could change after Sessions “testifies”, probably that he can’t testify in public to answer any and all questions put to him. It starts at 2:30 p.m.; doubtful it will last until 3:00.

  7. Peggy Hannon – “He would obliterate the Obama name from History, if he could”.

    Now that the GOP has permanently etched TRUMP in the granite of history it will be impossible to obliterate it; rather TRUMP will be recorded in infamy. We need to wait for at least three years before we can quit laughing about TRUMP on Saturday Night Live and the hourly news.

    To enjoy health from laughter, go to YouTube and type “TRUMP” in the Search Bar; then scroll down for the idiocy of choice.

  8. The Donald Trump Mickey Mouse has been going on for months. The good people who respond to Sheila Kennedy’s blog on a daily basis have hit the nail on the head. There doesn’t seem to be a dumb thing Trump hasn’t done or an obvious lie he hasn’t told. And he does’t care who knows it.

    At this point in time, there should be but one question. How do we get rid of this buffoon? And how do we keep an unqualified Mike Pence from stepping in and making matters worse?

  9. “What we’ve seen of this deeply disturbed man suggests that he withdrew because it would provoke outrage. Trump likes to stir the pot, and he desperately needs to be the center of attention. Achieving his goals quietly (assuming he has goals unconnected to his ego), without fanfare, doesn’t feed his narcissism.”

    What in God’s name are we doing? This is not going to get better, only worse and with likely disastrous consequences. Nothing about this is normal nor will it ever be. It has to be stopped and while we can keep talking and talking and talking unless the American people that can still comprehend how wrong all this is galvanize themselves and stand up to this farce we could all lose our shirts in the process. The whole world is watching this play out every day. They see us imploding and are scared out of their wits by this, particularly our allies. Are we really only so many sheep where we just vent and do nothing else? The stakes this mess has created are extremely high and it’s only begun. It will get worse.

    Personally, I’d rather not be sitting here a couple years from now lamenting how we could have avoided a collapse but we collectively didn’t step up to confront the person that had created it.
    Very sorry for being so blunt but all of this man, his impact on everything, and what he’s doing is like strychnine to our democracy and this country.

  10. DJT, we are told, has an insatiable need to be at the center of the news cycle. He skillfully uses distraction to avoid criticism and lose his preeminence. Would that a large majority could shun DJT: refuse to respond to his tweets; take him off the front page, report on him in the last 15 seconds of a news cast. Make front page news the Senate’s AHCA shenanigans. Report on world news. Never again mention his name. Make his head explode, not ours.

  11. Tom; sadly, there is nothing in the Constitution or the Judicial system to force Pence and Congress to do their job…which IS in the Constitution as they are the ones with the only authority to remove an unfit president from office. Trump proved his unfitness within the first week after his inauguration, hell, he proved it the first day in office and it has been a downhill ride with no brakes ever since. Those he placed in his cabinet will never encourage Pence or Congress to do their patriotic job; they like where they are and want to stay.

    I just saw that Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea; maybe they will keep him this time. Too bad we can’t ban his return to the U.S. He is another homegrown fool with terrorist, far-right leanings who is a danger we cannot control.

  12. All the hand-wringing, media-coverage, and blog essays just serve to further enable him. No more comments from me about the TYWBP (Talking Yam Who Became President). Very excited that Dems will be announcing a strong candidate next week to run against hard-right winger and war-monger Jim Banks in the 3rd District. Even if they don’t prevail they will at least change the public narrative. Cheers.

  13. He’s not my President. And after all of the investigating about Russian interference, I want to say this: He’s not anybody’s president. He’s a fraud.

  14. The alt-right is a creation of media. Donald Trump’s addition to his father’s fortune is all due to his management of media. Donald Trump’s pseudo-Presidency is a media creation. We are stuck in a fantasy from sick minds executed by media puppets under the direction of those who turn words into money fueled by make more money no matter the impact on others.

    Apparently when neo-liberalism meets entertainment in a society that has both everything and nothing bad things result. Terrible things. Potentially existential threats. It is that easy to replace knowledge with emotion.

    Hitler knew that. Mao knew that. Kim Jong Un knows that. Trump knows that. Putin knows that. Saddam Hussein knew that. The Koch Bros know that.

  15. “Lordy, I HOPE there are tapes!” I want the t-shirt. And JoAnn, I do look forward to reading your daily verbiage!

  16. JoAnn,

    It is an honor and a privilege to come here daily to read your posts and I am grateful for the opportunity you have given me to know what is concerning you.

    *submitted per your request 🙂

  17. Oh wait – that wasn’t a request was it, JoAnn? Upon review it appears to have been an order. Either way, I chose to comply.

  18. Yesterday, the topic was California’s quest for a Single Payer Heath Care System. Today, I read where the Republicans in the Senate are going to keep their Ryan-Trump-McConnell plan a secret from the people. I guess it is like the preparations for D-Day, you know something is going to happen, but the details of exactly where the invasion will take place is a secret.

    The McMega-Media, CNN, FOX, MSNBC have not, to my knowledge, mentioned the California or New York Single Payer Plans. Just hours and hours of near eternal babble of Trump-Russia, Russia and Trump. Today, I suppose it will be hours and hours of speculation about what Jeff Sessions will say or not say.

    Once the Sessions hearing is over there will be hours and hours of more babble from FOX, CNN and MSNBC.

  19. Trump does not know how to represent anybody but himself. As a narcissist, the world revolves around him and everything that has happened, is happening or will happen was designed to either help or destroy his sense of self-love and super ego. He is sick, and since we elected him an argument can be made that we were lulled into his other world where he is the total center of attention and may be sick ourselves to some degree.
    He seems to enjoy roughing up any and all people and institutions and folkways and mores if in doing so he becomes the focus of attention. One of the commentators today recommends that we start ignoring him and news about him which, of course, would reduce the ink and electronic media’s Nielsens and the advertising revenues the Nielsens measure. I agree, but not to throw a wet blanket on such a proposal, it’s a tough call to arms since he is after all the president who makes Nixon look like Lincoln and we the people are an inquisitive lot.

  20. Sueper: a tee shirt, wonderful idea, love it! Would we need Mr. Comey’s permission to use his terminology; it is part of an ongoing Intelligence (if NOT intelligent) investigation, or is it now public domain due to being part of a public hearing?

    Nancy, thanks. Was it a request or an order; I don’t recall. I’m sure I knew when I posted it but I just don’t remember. (I just watched the Sessions Senate hearing if you didn’t guess)

  21. To Tom Lund and JoAnn Green—
    Off the wall, I know, but my head is exploding—
    Lots of outstanding stuff today particularly with the
    well-rehearsed sycophant named Jeff Sessions,
    Pete’s posts are always succinct but this time it’s JoAnn and Tom:
    Tom, any chance you could run for POTUS in this cycle?
    JoAnn, if you know Dennis Rodman do you think we could hire him as a HIT MAN? Just asking…..
    Let’s quit the comedy and get serious!

  22. “Watched the Session hearing?”

    “I believe I did…. I can’t really say.”

    “I might have. I just can’t remember.”

    “It would be inappropriate for me to answer.”

  23. The climate has been changing for the 4.5 billion years Planet Earth has been around. No serious person doubts that climate change is taking place. Certainly the Earth’s climate didn’t become static after 4.5 billion years.

    The question has always been the extent man is influencing the environment. In fact, the Earth has been warmer than it is today. In fact, the CO2 levels have been higher. If you look at CO2 levels versus temps, CO2 increases follow and do not proceed temperature increases.

    The fact is there isn’t scientific proof that man is causing substantial increases in the world’s temperatures. It’s nothing but speculation. Screaming that there is a “consensus” on anthropogenic global warming (the original alarmists’ claim) isn’t a substitute for real proof.

    We need to stop politicizing this issue and insist that our scientists stick to presenting facts, not making political arguments.

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