The Attack Outside Kabul Airport Pushes The U.S. Exit Into Deeper Disarray

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August 26, 20217:11 PM ET



Smoke rises from a deadly explosion outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday. A suicide bomber targeted crowds massing near the airport in the waning days of a massive airlift that has drawn thousands of people seeking to flee the Taliban takeover.Wali Sabawoon/AP

If the intention of the attack at the Kabul airport was to throw into disarray an already chaotic U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan, the effects of Thursday’s violence are only beginning to take shape. Flights have been taking off from the airport since the explosions occurred, and President Biden said the American withdrawal will continue.

“America will not be intimidated,” Biden said.

It was a combative stance from a U.S. president who was already facing criticism for the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and who will now face the fallout from the attack, which saw the deaths of dozens of Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. service members.


President Biden Tells Kabul Attackers: ‘We Will Hunt You Down And Make You Pay’

Thursday’s deadly attack, which came just days before Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan, was claimed by ISIS-K, the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press and Reuters. The group posted the claim of responsibility on its Telegram channel, though NPR has not been able to independently verify the announcement.

A U.S. official confirmed to NPR that four U.S. Marines were among those killed, while Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the attack wounded “a number” more U.S. troops. The Associated Press reported that at least 60 Afghan civilians were killed and more than 140 others were wounded.Article continues after sponsor message

U.S. citizens were told before the attack to avoid the area

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said the blast took place at the “Abbey Gate” of the Hamid Karzai International Airport. The gate is one of the airport entrances that the embassy had specifically asked U.S. citizens to avoid on Wednesday due to heightened fears of an attack. The Baron Hotel, where a second explosion went off, was a staging ground for many of those trying to evacuate.

In addition to the explosions, there were reports of ongoing gunfire in the Afghan capital, according to an alert from the U.S. Embassy.


What We Know About ISIS-K, The Group Behind The Kabul Attack

The Taliban, whose rapid takeover of Afghanistan in recent weeks precipitated the U.S. withdrawal, have condemned the attack and said the area where it happened was controlled by U.S. forces.

“The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns the bombing of civilians at Kabul airport,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet.

The Pentagon warned of more violence ahead

At an afternoon press briefing, Pentagon officials said the suicide bomber who attacked the airport gate was not able to get onto the airfield at the Kabul airport. Rather, the explosion took place at a gate where people are screened for bombs and weapons before moving forward.

“This is close-up work, the breath of the person you are searching is upon you,” said Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of U.S. Central Command.

“Today is a hard day,” McKenzie said. “We have other active threats against the airfield,” he went on to warn.

Despite the threat, McKenzie said evacuation efforts will continue, referring to the withdrawal as the “No. 1 mission.”


What The Exit From Afghanistan Tells Us About How Biden Sees The World

“We are continuing to bring people onto the airfield [on buses], we continue to process, the plan is designed to operate while under stress, while under attack,” he said.

McKenzie also praised the heroism of the U.S. service members stationed in Kabul.

“We can all appreciate the courage and dedication of those who do this job and do it time after time,” the commander said.

The evacuation is continuing

Matthieu Aikins, an Afghanistan-based New York Times reporter, told NPR’s All Things Considered that flights have been taking off from the airport since the explosions occurred, “so it seems the evacuation is now continuing.”

But the moments outside the airport after the blasts were “very tense,” Aikins said.

“We were speaking with people who had been there and we were speaking with the Taliban guards who were quite agitated and trying to clear people from the area, bringing pipes and planks of cable,” he said.


The U.S. Embassy Urges Americans Outside The Kabul Airport To Leave Immediately

“Taliban were yelling and brandishing cables and trying to forcibly clear people out. And it was a very tense situation. We could hear sounds of firing from inside the airport as well as sirens,” he said.

Outside the hospital where victims were being carried in, Aikins said there was a large crowd with several ambulances arriving. The hospital in Kabul is equipped to handle mass trauma, but with this massive influx, another hospital might be needed, he said.

“They were wheeling bodies of people, you know, injured people into the hospital, some clearly very badly injured, unconscious. Some of them were children. The relatives are weeping nearby.”

Biden was in the Situation Room when it happened

At the time of the attack, President Biden was in the White House Situation Room with his top national security aides discussing the situation in Afghanistan.

The president postponed a planned meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and canceled his virtual meeting with governors about resettling Afghan refugees.

In remarks from the White House, Biden vowed to hunt down those responsible for the attack.


Biden Pledges To Strike Back After Attack Kills 13 U.S. Service Members In Kabul

“We will not forgive, we will not forget, we will hunt you down and make you pay. Our mission will go on, America will not be intimidated,” Biden said.

At the same time, the president said the attack demonstrated why it is necessary for the United States to leave Afghanistan after 20 years of war.

His remarks came just two days after Biden said that the U.S. was on track to withdraw from Afghanistan by his Aug. 31 deadline.

“The sooner we finish, the better,” Biden said at the White House on Tuesday, warning that staying longer would bring added risk to U.S. troops. He specifically mentioned a possible attack from ISIS-K on Kabul’s airport.

The international community is condemning the attack

The attack was loudly condemned by the international community, including by key U.S. allies in NATO.

“I strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack outside #Kabul airport. My thoughts are with all those affected and their loved ones. Our priority remains to evacuate as many people to safety as quickly as possible,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the attack in Kabul “vile” and said Germany will continue to help those who want to leave Afghanistan. The country’s defense minister also announced that the last German military aircraft has left Afghanistan, marking the end of the country’s mission there.

United Nations spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said, “This incident underscores the volatility of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan but also strengthens our resolve as we continue to deliver urgent assistance across the country in support of the Afghan people.”

Dujarric said that humanitarian efforts in the country are still ongoing.

Biden Made Big Compromises on Climate — and Movements That Backed Him Are Livid

Joe Biden calls on reporters raising their hands
Reporters raise their hands after U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about COVID vaccinations in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on August 3, 2021.

BYBasav SenTruthoutPUBLISHEDAugust 4, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden unveiled a plan to tackle climate change, which he termed “an existential threat — not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities, our national security, and our economic well-being.” He promised “a bold plan — a Clean Energy Revolution — to address this grave threat.”

Immediately after he was sworn into office in January 2021, President Biden issued two executive orders to tackle the climate crisis. The executive orders started undoing the damage done by the Trump administration — for example, reinstating the Obama administration’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, and rejoining the Paris climate accord.

But they went beyond restoring the Obama status quo by pausing oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters, and directing all federal agencies to identify and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

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The elevation of environmental justice as a government-wide concern, and the directive to the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department to enforce environmental justice laws, were very welcome developments. The credit for this goes entirely to years of organizing by environmental justice movements.

The response from environmental organizations was favorable. For example, the Sierra Club applauded the Biden administration for “utilizing the entire government to take bold and swift action that leaves no person and no community behind.”

Today, the prospect of serious action on the scale needed to address the climate emergency, and the image of the Biden administration as being committed to climate action, are both in shambles. What happened in just a few months to bring about this sea change in the politics of climate action in the U.S.?

Infrastructure Isn’t Climate-Neutral

A key reason for this shift is the ongoing infrastructure fight in Congress.

What kind of physical infrastructure we build for energy, transportation, housing, and other areas helps determine whether, and how fast, we start cutting our greenhouse gas emissions (referred to as climate mitigation), and how we adjust our society and economy to climate change impacts that are already happening (referred to as climate adaptation).

Some of this is obvious — gas-burning power plants are the wrong energy infrastructure choice for climate mitigation, and wind turbines are the right choice.The kind of infrastructure we fund helps determine our ability to fight climate change.

Other infrastructure choices are less obvious. Expanding highways (ostensibly to alleviate congestion) has the perverse effect of increasing traffic. Growing traffic (measured using a metric called Vehicle Miles Traveled, or VMT), in turn, drives growing greenhouse gas emissions. If policymakers expand public transportation instead, it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Consequently, the kind of infrastructure we fund helps determine our ability to fight climate change.

A Weak Beginning

In April 2021, Biden released his American Jobs Plan (AJP), an eight-year, $2 trillion infrastructure investment proposal.

It included $100 billion in funding for rebuilding our energy system, distributed between incentivizing the growth of renewable energy generation and storage, building a resilient electric transmission system, and more. It proposed $85 billion for public transit and $174 billion for vehicle electrification.

The plan fell far short of the level of funding that experts have estimated is needed to address the climate emergency. Energy consulting group Wood Mackenzie estimates the combined public and private investment needed to convert the U.S. power grid to 100 percent renewable energy to be $4.5 trillion, and a Rewiring America study estimates that eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. economy requires $3 trillion over 10 years in public investment alone. The public transit investment of $85 billion proposed was less than what the AJP admitted to be the repair backlog for transit systems ($105 billion).

The AJP also fell far short of the level of investments demanded by the Green New Deal Network, a network of grassroots movements: $1 trillion for renewable energy, and $600 billion each for mass transit and for retrofitting public buildings (including public housing and schools).

From the standpoint of environmental and climate justice organizations, there were additional concerns with the AJP. It proposed pilot projects for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology, and expanding the tax credit for CCS.

Environmental justice organizations have been clear in their opposition to CCS. The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, created by President Biden through an executive order, included CCS facilities in a list of the types of investments that would not benefit environmental justice communities.

But things went further downhill from this weak opening proposal from the administration.

Enter the Senate

Reviewing the composition and voting rules of the U.S. Senate helps explain what happened next.

The Senate is evenly divided between the two parties, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding a tie-breaking vote to give Democrats the slimmest of majorities.

But the Senate doesn’t pass most legislation through a normal majority vote. It subjects legislation to a process called filibuster, requiring 60 votes to pass. The only exception is legislation with budgetary (tax and spending) implications, which can bypass the filibuster through a process called reconciliation.

This means any infrastructure legislation needs at least 10 Republican votes to pass the Senate, unless it’s introduced as a budgetary measure.

A group of conservative Senate Democrats, prominent among them Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), insisted on passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill as a precondition to considering a bigger reconciliation bill. And even one dissenting Democrat could kill a bill if all Republicans opposed it. That was the administration and Senate Democratic leadership’s logic for addressing infrastructure with two bills — a bipartisan bill subject to filibuster, and a larger bill passed through reconciliation.

Compromising Climate Action Away

A bipartisan group of senators started negotiating a bill, producing a framework that eviscerated the climate elements of the AJP.

Renewable energy vanished from the energy priorities. Transit funding, already inadequate in the AJP, was cut from $85 billion down to $49 billion, and vehicle electrification spending was gutted by 91 percent, from $174 billion to $15 billion.Biden himself has a great deal of responsibility for this state of affairs, by negotiating with Republicans and appeasing conservative Democrats.

As negotiations continued, the bipartisan proposal got worse. Transit was cut further to $39 billion, less than half the amount in the original AJP. The energy spending proposed was entirely for transmission lines and for technologies controversial for their environmental justice impacts, such as nuclear energy and carbon capture.

One item that remained essentially unchanged from the original AJP was highway spending — which, as noted earlier, can hinder the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that attempting to negotiate an infrastructure bill with a political party that denies and minimizes the climate crisis would produce an outcome such as this.

The #ExxonPlan

A startling revelation at the end of June 2021 shed further light on why the bipartisan infrastructure proposal gutted attempts in the original AJP to address climate change.

Investigative journalists from Greenpeace posing as recruiters got two Exxon lobbyists to share secrets on video, including revealing the degree of influence the company had on the infrastructure bill, and their targeted lobbying of key senators, including four Democrats who negotiated the bipartisan deal: Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly (both D-Arizona), Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire).

Exxon’s business interests in doing so are obvious — stripping away funding for the competition (renewable energy, public transit and vehicle electrification), and building highway infrastructure that incentivizes oil and gas use.

Biden’s Stark Choice

It’s hypothetically possible, but not guaranteed, that a reconciliation package will include significant climate infrastructure funding.

There are indications conservative Democrats such as Manchin and Sinema could block the reconciliation bill if the bipartisan bill doesn’t pass, or whittle down spending levels in the reconciliation bill out of purported concern about deficits. If they do, it’s possible that funding for renewable energy, public transit or energy-efficient buildings won’t survive.

Disturbingly, Biden has said he opposes “double dipping” in infrastructure spending. This means if any item is funded (even minimally) in the bipartisan bill, he won’t support more funding for it in the reconciliation bill. This includes public transit and vehicle electrification.

A few months into Biden’s presidency, prospects of bold action to address the climate emergency look bleak. Biden himself has a great deal of responsibility for this state of affairs, by negotiating with Republicans and appeasing conservative Democrats.

The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), comprising more than 70 grassroots organizations from frontline communities most impacted by climate change and toxic pollution, made clear on the day of Biden’s inauguration that their support for him wasn’t unconditional, and that they intend to “hold President Biden accountable for delivering on his promises, starting today.”

These weren’t empty words. On June 30, as the Exxon lobbying scandal broke, a coalition including the CJA, the Indigenous Environmental NetworkArm in Arm and ShutDownDCblockaded entrances to the White House, demanding an end to fossil fuels along with robust infrastructure investment to address the climate crisis. Two days earlier, the youth-led Sunrise Movement had also blockaded the White House.

Clearly, Biden can’t take progressive support for granted. If he continues choosing bipartisanship over delivering on his campaign promises on climate, he faces an escalating showdown with an increasingly assertive, frontline-led climate justice movement.

The world faces a dire climate emergency, with more than 14,000 scientists warning in a letter that the planet’s “vital signs” are in bad shape. The urgency to enact serious policies to counteract climate change can’t be emphasized enough. The choice before Biden is stark: will he do what it takes to tackle the climate emergency, or squander the opportunity for the sake of “bipartisanship,” with disastrous consequences for humanity?

After Debate On Biden’s Abortion Views, Bishops Vote to Rethink Communion Rules

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June 18, 20211:38 PM ET


President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, shown here on Jan. 20, 2021, attend Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle during Inauguration Day ceremonies in Washington, D.C.Evan Vucci/AP

After a contentious debate, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has voted to move forward with a process that could call into question the eligibility of politicians like President Joe Biden to receive Communion.

The bishops voted 168-55 in favor of drafting “a formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church,” officials announced on Friday afternoon, the final day of their three-day virtual meeting. Six bishops abstained.

Biden’s election as only the nation’s second Roman Catholic president has prompted renewed debate over denying communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, a position at odds with church teachings.

During their online meeting, bishops held a spirited discussion Thursday before voting on the proposal to direct the bishops’ Committee on Doctrine to draft the statement. Such a document, once completed, could include guidelines for denying communion to public officials.

A Catholic president has become a lightning rod for debate

Biden was mentioned by name or alluded to several times, including by Bishop Liam Cary of the Diocese of Baker in Oregon, who described what he sees as an “unprecedented situation in the country.”Article continues after sponsor message

“We’ve never had a situation like this where the executive is a Catholic president opposed to the teaching of the church ” Cary said.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, who leads the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has been among the most vocal critics of Biden’s support abortion rights. He said he’s disturbed by Catholic officials who “flaunt their Catholicity” while publicly taking positions on abortion that conflict with those of the church.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann, of Kansas City, presents a report on stem-cell research during the general meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, June 12, 2008.Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

“This is a Catholic president that’s doing the most aggressive thing we’ve ever seen in terms of this attack on life when it’s most innocent,” Naumann said.

Other bishops urged caution, echoing a warning from the Vatican that moving forward with the document could politicize the sacrament of Holy Communion and risk deepening divisions among American Catholics, at a time when many are just beginning to return to in-person worship.

“Bishops now want to talk about excluding people at a time when the real challenge before them is welcoming people back to the regular practice of the faith, and rebuilding their communities,” Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago warned.

Bishop Robert Coerver of Lubbock, Texas, described what he saw as a rush to address the issue, and suggested that the debate was being clouded by concerns about upcoming elections.

“I can’t help but wonder if the years 2022 and 2024 might be part of the rush,” he said. “And I think we need to be real careful not to get embroiled in the political situation.”

Soon after, Bishop Thomas Daly of the Spokane Diocese expressed skepticism about calls by some bishops for more time to discuss the matter and engage in dialogue with officials who support abortion rights.

“There is an aggressiveness in a number of elected officials, and this call for dialogue,” he said “Sometimes I wonder if the dialogue is meant not truly to listen but to delay.”

The bishops’ vote concerns what is largely a procedural step – but one fraught with debate, given larger disagreements over how church leaders treat public officials who take positions at odds with those of the Catholic Church. Those decisions currently are left to local bishops.

About two-thirds of American Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to receive Communion, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center released in March. But many Catholics – like Americans in general – are starkly divided on the issue by party; more than half of Catholics who also identify as Republicans said Biden should not be allowed to receive the sacrament because of his views on abortion.

Discussion of who can receive the sacrament has a long history

The issue of who is eligible to receive the sacrament also has divided U.S. Catholic Bishops; several have called for denying communion to Biden and other prominent Roman Catholic officials who take positions on abortion at odds with those of the Catholic church, while others have argued the Eucharist should not be used to advance political goals.


Even If It’s ‘Bonkers,’ Poll Finds Many Believe QAnon And Other Conspiracy Theories

Church leaders have expressed concerns about declining Mass attendance, and how well parishioners understand the full meaning and significance of the sacrament. In 2019, only about one third of American Catholics surveyed by Pew said they believed the church’s teaching known as “transubstantiation” – or the idea that during communion, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Instead, most Catholics said they saw the sacrament as symbolic. According to church teaching, Catholics are expected to be free of any significant, unconfessed sin and in what’s known as a “state of grace” when receiving communion.

Similar discussions have arisen before, most notably when Democrat John Kerry, also a Roman Catholic, was running for President in 2004. The debate resurfaced surrounding Biden’s run for President in 2020.

Biden, only the nation’s second Catholic president, was endorsed by Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups during his presidential run in 2020. The year before, he pleased abortion rights advocates by ending his longtime support for the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions for low-income women, in most cases.

The three-day meeting, which is being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, ended on Friday afternoon.

Preparation of a new statement on the meaning of the Eucharist is only a first step; the bishops would have an opportunity to amend the proposed document at a future meeting before voting on whether or not to approve it. They’re scheduled to meet again in person in November.

In NBC interview, Putin says he can work with Biden

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In NBC interview, Putin says he can work with Biden

Corky SiemaszkoFri, June 11, 2021, 4:30 PM·3 min read

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an exclusive interview Friday with NBC News, called former President Donald Trump a “colorful individual” and said he can work with President Joe Biden.

Putin compared the two presidents at a time when relations between Russia and the United States are at a historic low and ahead of the Russian leader’s upcoming summit with Biden.

“Well even now, I believe that former U.S. president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual, otherwise he would not have become U.S. president,” Putin told NBC’s Keir Simmons during a wide-ranging and, at times, contentious interview. “He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And, but he didn’t come from the U.S. establishment. He had not been part of big-time politics before, and some like it, some don’t like it but that is a fact.”

Video: Putin responds to being called ‘killer’ by Biden

 3:44 8:57  Maddow to DOJ officials: Wake up! You have to fix this. LATER IN THE DAY, WE DID, IN 

As for Biden, Putin said the current White House occupant “is radically different from Trump because President Biden is a career man. He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics.”

“That’s a different kind of person, and it is my great hope that, yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any impulse-based movements on behalf of the sitting U.S. president,” he said.

Trump has been criticized for cozying up to Putin. After their sole summit in July 2018 in Helsinki, Trump set off shockwaves when he refused to side with U.S. intelligence agencies over Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, Biden has said on numerous occasions that he told Putin to his face that he doesn’t “have a soul” during a Kremlin visit in 2011 when he was vice president.

But both men have agreed that Putin, who has been accused of ordering the assassinations of political opponents, is a “killer.”

Asked point-blank by Simmons during the 90-minute Kremlin interview whether he was a “killer,” Putin gave an evasive answer.

“Over my tenure, I’ve gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles and from all kinds of areas under all kinds of pretext and reasons and of different caliber and fierceness, and none of it surprises me,” Putin said, calling the “killer” label “Hollywood macho.”

Pressed further by Simmons, who mentioned by name some of the Putin opponents who have been killed in recent years, the Russian leader bristled.

“Look, you know, I don’t want to come across as being rude, but this looks like some kind of indigestion except that it’s verbal indigestion. You’ve mentioned many individuals who indeed suffered and perished at different points in time for various reasons, at the hands of different individuals,” he said.

Putin also dismissed as “nonsense” a Washington Post report that Russia was preparing to offer Iran an advanced satellite system that would enable Tehran to track military targets, including the remaining U.S. troops in Iraq.

“It’s just fake news,” he said. “At the very least, I don’t know anything about this kind of thing. Those who are speaking about it probably will maybe know more about it. It’s just nonsense, garbage.”

Additional portions of the interview will be broadcast by NBC News on Monday on “TODAY” and “Nightly News with Lester Holt” and on MSNBC.

Joe Biden: The incredible vanishing president

Damon Linker, Senior correspondentFri, June 11, 2021, 2:52 AM·6 min read

President Biden.
President Biden. Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock

Images of Joe Biden giving speeches and shaking hands with foreign dignitaries during his ongoing trip to Europe will take up space in the news over the coming week. But once he returns to the United States, the pattern that’s prevailed over the past five months will likely resume.

Which means the president will once again disappear.

It was common for Democrats during the 2020 presidential campaign to talk encouragingly about how boring a Biden administration would be in comparison to the nonstop cycle of chaos, cruelty, and outrage that prevailed under President Trump. Where Trump tweeted partisan provocations day and night, keeping reporters and pundits furiously scribbling, analyzing, and denouncing 24/7, life under a Biden presidency would return to normal, with a slower pace and the president receding from public view, allowing other people and topics to proliferate, and our nation’s public life to settle down and heal, perhaps even with a modicum of unity returning.- ADVERTISEMENT -

That isn’t what’s happened. Biden has indeed stepped back — in comparison to Trump, absolutely, but even compared to Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Biden simply doesn’t say or do very much in public. He’s content, instead, to allow surrogates, staffers, and Democrats in Congress to take the lead in getting the administration’s message out. The result is that it often feels as if we have no president at all.

Yet the nation hasn’t quieted. On the contrary, the virtual wars that roiled the country over the previous four years have continued. The primary difference is that the president plays very little part in them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it’s not especially encouraging either. Indeed, it points to deeper cultural and political changes that set the context for the presidency.

Beyond the desire to do the opposite of Trump, there are several strong arguments in favor of the president playing a smaller role in our politics. Treating the president like a monarch isn’t healthy for a democracy, so anything that reduces his role is good. A less prominent head of the executive branch might allow power to flow back to Congress or the states and away from the imperial presidency. A largely invisible president is less likely to whip up war hysteria.

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