Week In Politics: Trump's U.K. Visit, 75th Anniversary Of D-Day NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with E.J. Dionne of Brookings Institution, and Margaret Hoover of PBS Firing Line, about President Trump's visit to the United Kingdom and the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
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Week In Politics: Trump's U.K. Visit, 75th Anniversary Of D-Day

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Week In Politics: Trump's U.K. Visit, 75th Anniversary Of D-Day

Week In Politics: Trump's U.K. Visit, 75th Anniversary Of D-Day

Week In Politics: Trump's U.K. Visit, 75th Anniversary Of D-Day

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/730758868/730758869" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with E.J. Dionne of Brookings Institution, and Margaret Hoover of PBS Firing Line, about President Trump's visit to the United Kingdom and the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

All right. It is time to talk week in politics. And we are joined this week by Margaret Hoover of PBS's "Firing Line" and E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and the Brookings Institution. Welcome, you two.

E J DIONNE, BYLINE: Great to be with you.

KELLY: Hi. Margaret, you with us?

MARGARET HOOVER: Thank you for having me.

KELLY: Hi. Good to have you with us. All right. We're going to loop back to Scott's report on the economy in a second. But we're going to start the week back where it began, with President Trump's European tour landing in London, winding his way through Dublin and then onto the beaches of Normandy yesterday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We are gathered here on freedom's altar. On these shores, on these bluffs, on this day 75 years ago, 10,000 men shed their blood...

KELLY: Even before he left, the president made a series of statements that, like so much of what he has said and done during his presidency, seemed to upend norms set by his predecessors.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

TRUMP: I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he'd be excellent.

She's nasty. I wasn't referring to she's nasty. I said she was nasty about me.

Nancy Pelosi's a disaster, OK? She's a disaster.

Well, I think he's been a not-very-good mayor from what I understand. He's done a poor job.

KELLY: A sampling there of the president's remarks from the lead-up to and then during his trip this week. Margaret, I'm going to give you first crack here. And start with that last comment. That was the president talking about London Mayor Sadiq Khan. That was - what he said as he was leaving the White House. Then as he was flying into the U.K., he tweeted that Sadiq Khan was, quote, "a stone cold loser." Just another on-brand day for the president, you think, or do you see a problem here?

HOOVER: Look. You know, we talk about the context in which our political norms and our diplomatic norms are eroding. And oftentimes you can look at, you know, hyper-polarization in the United States and how our norms really are changing and that Trump may actually be a symptom of those changes rather than the cause of them.

And then you look at moments where the president of the United States lands and a country and tweets a direct insult at the mayor of the capital of that country. And you think, nope, this is actually directly related to the actions of the president of the United States. That is typical Trump.

And what was, I think, consistent with the president on this trip is that he had moments that were actually exceptional. And he had moments that typified his brazenness and his crudeness diplomatically to the people of the United Kingdom.

KELLY: I mean, just to tease that out, E.J., one of the other pieces of tape we heard there was the president expressing support for Boris Johnson, who would like to become the next prime minister of the U.K. - in other words, weighing into another country's democratic process. Should the president express views on things like this?

DIONNE: I don't think he should. I think, in a way, what's heartbreaking here is this was an enormous event. We are celebrating the anniversary of one of the most extraordinary landings, military operations, a selfless set of actions by our soldiers on behalf of an idea. This was a fight for democracy back then.

And to have the president come along and, first of all, tape - you had some of the other things he said there - you know, tape in front of the graves some insults to people like Nancy Pelosi back home. There's just something so disturbing about that. His speech was fine. I don't think it was up to Ronald Reagan's speech of all those years ago, but that was a very high standard.

KELLY: The actual speech at Normandy at the commemorations.

DIONNE: The actual speech he gave was appropriate to the event. And I think one of the things we're discovering is that Trump was elected in part, I think, because he did break norms. And Americans who voted for him said, good. Things are a mess. We don't want a typical politician anymore. I think what's becoming clear, and the polls suggest this, is lots of Americans are saying, wait, we actually may need norms after all. This isn't working so well.

KELLY: Margaret, stay with D-Day for a second, which, as I know, you noted was marking the 75th anniversary of a moment when the world came together to defeat fascism. I mean, as you watched the world leaders gathered there this time around, did it to cross your mind to think, I wonder how that would play out today?

HOOVER: Look. This was Donald Trump's - one of the best moments of his presidency. He did carry the moment. He did give the appropriate amount of respect and dignity to not just the people of the United States, the more than 9,000 lives who died on the beaches of Normandy, but to the Poles and to the Norwegians and to the Aussies, as he said, and the gallant French commandos. And what was really noteworthy, I think, about the president's speech - which does differ from other American speeches - is his focus on individual nationalities in that speech, which is actually consistently Trumpian in the focus on nationalism. There was a uniting of nations that came together to fight an ideology of fascism. And I think in this moment, it's worthy of us reflecting. There are times, of course, where American presidents are more popular and less popular. Certainly President Obama was a very popular president in Europe. President Bush was a less popular president for many reasons. But - that we are united in these common values. And Trump's emphasis on nationalism brings a particularly Trumpian stamp to that moment.

KELLY: Well, let me turn you both in the couple of minutes we have left to the economy. And we were just hearing the president will fly back in to news of a weak jobs report. He has also set Monday as the deadline to impose tariffs on Mexico. Margaret, what dangers, do you see it, as potentially posing to the president politically if the economic news is less than stellar?

HOOVER: Dire, frankly. I mean, there's really no way of minimizing how this president who has, you know, in a low 40% approval rating because his base is behind him and the economy is booming. What could happen when America's largest trading partner, which is Mexico, is slapped with 25% tariffs? This would absolutely cripple president - could - has the potential to cripple President Trump's political strength and his presidency. So this is a - it is not an overstatement. This is a very big deal. And the question is, you know, is he crafty like a fox, crazy like a fox? Or is he being impulsive and his own worst enemy? They are at the table negotiating, having talks that hadn't happened previously.

KELLY: Right. E.J., is the president crafty like a fox? Or should he be worried, as he eyes 2020, if voters are suddenly worried about the economy?

DIONNE: I think Margaret's right. I think he should be very, very worried. And, you know, a jobs report - it can be an outlier, as Scott Horsley talked about. But he also said, rightly, this may not be. We were producing an average of 223,000 jobs in 2018. We're down to 146,000. We seem to be in some trouble here, and that will be big trouble for Trump.

KELLY: All right. That is E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and the Brookings Institution, and Margaret Hoover of PBS's "Firing Line." Happy Friday. Thanks to you both.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

HOOVER: Thanks so much.

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