Trump keeps his promise

(CNN)“It was a July 4th in Washington DC unlike any other, just as President Donald Trump promised.”

Fashioning the military into “props in his nationalistic show raises ethical questions,” wrote Ben-Ghiat, noting that “militarization has always been central to Trump’s political playbook.”
Retired Rear Admiral John Kirby was struck that Trump made his pricey Fourth about the military, when the history of the holiday celebrates America’s founding ideals, not its military power. If Trump “really wanted to salute America,” contended Kirby, “he’d spend some of this money on the infrastructure, health care and educational needs of our citizens… not on some vainglorious display of military might.”
    Marc Thiessen offered a different perspective in the Washington Post, rejecting the “hyperventilation” of critics of Trump’s speech and its trappings who called them “virtually unprecedented.” On the contrary, noted Thiessen, who cited addresses from Presidents Wilson, Truman, Kennedy, Ford, Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush as each in their own way an insertion of the presidency into America’s Independence Day celebrations. Thiessen also gave Trump’s remarks high praise, calling them a “deeply unifying speech that celebrated America’s accomplishments,” one that made Trump’s critics look “increasingly petty and small.”
    If the week ended with a military show, it opened with a performance that Michael D’Antonio deemed “farcical” — the latest turn in the spotlight for Trump’s children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. Joining her father at both the G20, in Osaka, Japan, and also for a few steps into North Korea, Ivanka Trump “inserted herself into the middle of high-level conversations” and “stood out in colorful high fashion that seemed designed to steal the limelight” — and made her the diplomatic party-crasher who launched a thousand memes. Earlier, her brother, Donald Jr. “reprised his father’s racist birtherism, this time with a retweet aimed at Sen. Kamala Harris.” It was all textbook Trump, said D’Antonio: “Who better to mimic Donald Trump’s style, and give him the total loyalty he demands, than little Trumps?”

    “It is our census”

    The “battle of whether to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census has become bizarre,” marveled Raul Reyes. After the Supreme Court last week temporarily blocked the addition of the controversial question, President Trump implied he would delay the census. Monday was the print deadline to begin producing the census forms. On Tuesday, the government announced it would proceed to print the forms — without the question. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, and Justice Department officials later confirmed, that the government would instead move ahead with its legal case to add the citizenship question. By Thursday, Axios reported that administration sources said Trump is considering adding the question by executive order — a use of executive power it’s unclear whether the Supreme Court would affirm.
    Such reversals and posturing are unacceptable here, declared Reyes, because the “2020 census is not Trump’s census, it is our census. It is by and for the American people, and it must be carried out without further delay.”

    The past, present and future of Joe Biden

    It was a chaotic week for the former Vice President and current Democratic front-runner. After California Senator Kamala Harris went hard at Biden during the first Democratic debate over his previous opposition to busing in the 1970s, Biden slipped in the polls … and doubled down on his record — a move Peniel Joseph identified as a missed opportunity to get on the right side of history. Biden “has abdicated the responsibility any presidential front-runner has to account for the moral cost of his (and many other Americans’) previous beliefs and decisions about race. He could have said he was wrong or that his views have evolved. He did not.”
    Harris’s ownership of the debate stage sparked a familiar feeling for former prosecutor Elie Honig — who recognized in Harris’s performance her “secret weapon” — decades of experience as a prosecutor. “And we are already seeing how potent that weapon is, as public support for Harris surged in a CNN post-debate poll.”
    As for Biden, who spoke this week with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, his “tactics will change as the campaign moves forward, but his strategy won’t,” opined former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart. “Anyone expecting to see a major reboot in the Biden campaign or a Joe Biden 2.0 doesn’t know the former Vice President. He knows what he knows, which isn’t everything, and is not likely to refashion his image based on a poll or a debate performance,” said Lockhart — though Biden does need to “not look like the nomination is his to lose, but instead to win.”

    US women’s soccer team to world: We got this

    “Stop telling the US Women’s National Team what to do. Seriously. It’s exhausting,” asserted Amy Bass, who pointed out after the team’s 2-1 victory over England Tuesday in the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup that it seems no matter what these elite athletes do, someone finds a way to criticize them — from the controversy over their 13-0 blowout of Thailand to debates over whether Alex Morgan’s post-goal “drinking tea” celebration was distasteful. (As Nancy Armour wrote for USA Today, that gesture was “clever — on multiple levels,” and Morgan hit the nail on the head by calling demands for USA’s post-goal celebrations to be more ladylike and proper by another name — sexist.)
    Sideline drama, politics and sports analysis aside, said Bass, “The women’s game deserves support. Women’s sports deserve support.”
    They’re getting it from legions of fans, including Lindsay Gibbs, who wrote for Think Progress that the USWNT fosters her patriotism and belief in America at a time when political torments — from migrant children with no soap and toothpaste to Trump’s military showboating — have her questioning the moral rectitude of her government. Sue Bird, WNBA player and girlfriend of USWNT superstar Megan Rapinoe — who took heat last week from Trump and others for her antiracist activism — wrote of watching Rapinoe and the team play against France in the quarterfinals: “I was pretty damn American.”
    “The nerve of the US women’s soccer team is part of something that has been building,” wrote Jerry Brewer in the Washington Post. “Change isn’t coming. It is already here.”
    The US women take on the Netherlands in the finals of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday in Lyon.

    Summertime is reading time

    We’ve kept this newsletter somewhat brief, since we — like you too, I hope — had a few vacation days we wanted to take this week. But that doesn’t mean we’re leaving you without a reading list to go with your Sunday coffee.
    Don’t miss these smart takes:
    Nina Brooks, Eran Bendavid, and Grant Miller: “The unintended consequences of US abortion policy
    And one more…

    Like Taylor Swift, every woman has a Justin Bieber

      Taylor Swift made waves by describing the sale of her work to music manager Scooter Braun, whom she had accused of bullying her, as a “worst case scenario.” But even more noticeable than that was her exchange about it with Justin Bieber, which some cast as a beef — and not a professional woman defending her career.
      And therein, wrote Danielle Campoamor, lies a challenge all women can relate to, whether they are household names or not: “As women, we’re to blame. We’re too aggressive. We just want attention. We don’t love ourselves enough. We’re manipulative. We’re not his type. We’re too much. We’re dramatic. We’re feuding. And, like Swift, far too many of us are watching what we’ve worked so hard for fall into the hands of men who seek to control us, whether it be via our legacies, our reputations, our bodies or our success.”

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