Vile and vicious worked last week. What’s to be said of De Niro?

How about that Trump and his vile and vicious attack on Justin Trudeau?

Or his new BLF (best lackey forever) John Bolton’s vile and vicious echoing of Trump’s attack on Justin Trudeau?

Or economic advisor Larry Kudlow’s vile and vicious assertion that Justin Trudeau had stabbed us in the back?

Vile and vicious.

Which, by the way, was Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s assessment of Samantha Bee’s little tirade a few weeks ago when Bee had seen enough of ICE’s stormtrooper tactics at the border, tactics undertaken with Trump’s imprimatur.

But today, in light of the president’s recent excursion off the rails in Quebec, and Putin’s subsequent praise of his fellow autocrat’s position, I might ask Ms. Sanders to put her judgment in context. And for those who disagreed with my defense of Ms. Bee’s comments a while back, I urge you to read the op-ed piece by Virginia Heffernan in today’s L.A. Times.

Samantha Bee subsequently issued a half-hearted but pointed apology. She shouldn’t have. Trump would have doubled down, repeated the charge, and dared us to do something about it. We, the so-called opposition, keep bringing knives to a gunfight, and though I admire Bee’s candor and incisiveness, she should not have given an inch. (And if you’re offended by my use of guns in an analogy, well then….)

And this gunfight we’re losing? It’s not a question of simple affronts to our sensibilities. Instead, we’re talking about the future of our country, our alliances, and our world. The more emboldened Trump feels, the more he can renounce our friends and coddle our enemies. Vladimir Putin praised Trump’s behavior at the G-7, and why wouldn’t he? The destruction of European alliances will give Russia inroads they could not possibly gain otherwise. Russia is weak militarily and economically: sure they were able to overwhelm and annex Crimea, but they still aren’t able to compete in Western Europe…unless some sympathetic comrade greases the skids.

(And incidentally—but not insignificantly—who in Trump’s universe is to blame for the Crimean annexation? Obama, not Putin.)

This is the vile and vicious world Trump inhabits—the world where one shakes hands with his ally to the north, and then eviscerates him with a tweet within the hour. At least people are catching on and giving like for like. As Roland Paris, a former foreign affairs adviser to Mr. Trudeau, tweeted about Trump after his departure from the G-7: “Big tough guy once he’s back on his airplane…Can’t do it in person, and knows it, which makes him feel weak. So he projects these feelings onto Trudeau and then lashes out at him. You don’t need to be Freud. [Trump is] a pathetic little man-child.”

Which is basically what Robert De Niro said at the Tony’s last night.

Now De Niro could have been more subtle—that may also be true of Bee, Kathy Griffin, and others. But subtlety and decorum in a country that elected Trump president may be qualities we’ll have to lose first in order to win back later.

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