The French Have a Right to Condescend, For Once


Don’t Hold Back, Maureen. Tell Us What You Really Think

WASHINGTON — We’ve been conditioned by Hollywood to see the president of the United States step up to the lectern to confidently tell us how he will combat the existential threat to the planet … So it was quite stunning to see the president of the United States step up to the lectern to declare himself the existential threat to the planet.

America is living through a fractured fairy tale, in the grip of a lonely and uninformed mad king, an arrogant and naïve princeling, a comely but complicit blond princess and a dyspeptic, dystopian troll under the bridge. …

The more he is labeled a boor and a brute by his critics at home and abroad, the more Trump digs in, trying to drag America back to a time when black smoke belched, women scrambled for birth control, sick people were out of luck, reefer madness reigned and Cuba was shunned. …

Trump was goaded in the direction of dropping out of the Paris accord by a couple things that irritated him.

As Mark Landler and Michael Shear reported in The Times, Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser, had told reporters in Sicily that Mr. Trump might be coming around. “His views are evolving” on climate change, Cohn said. “He came here to learn. He came here to get smarter.”

That smarted and made Trump want to blast classic rock.

Then the president read an interview with Emmanuel Macron in a French newspaper, bragging about how he had prepared to give Trump an Iron Man grip because it was “a moment of truth” showing that he “won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones.” …

Trump [by contrast to Macron] has rattled the world with his crude manner, cruel policies, chaotic management style, authoritarian love-ins and antediluvian attitudes, cementing his image as the highchair king.

For once, the French have a right to be condescending toward the United States.