February 18, 2019

ONLY NIKKI CRAWLS FROM THIS WRECKAGE:

An off-key Pence sings from the Trump hymnal to a stony European reception (Anne Applebaum, February 17, 2019, Washington Post)

Even inside a hotel so secure that it has body scanners at the entrance and snipers on the roof, Vice President Pence travels with a vast security detail. Its main function, it seems, is to elbow people out of the way so that the vice president and his unsmiling wife can walk through a lobby, crowded with European officials and military brass, and speak to no one. Which is perhaps unsurprising, for Pence was heading to the main forum of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday -- an annual event whose origins lie deep in the Cold War -- to make statements so tone-deaf and, frankly, peculiar that their intended audience could not have been the one in the room.

Part of his problem is the new context. Two years ago, when Pence spoke at the same forum, many in Europe were still hoping to work with the Trump administration. His speech was banal and uninspiring -- it was "an entirely conventional restatement of American commitment to Europe," I wrote at the time -- but Europeans were so relieved to hear it that they decided, on balance, to believe him. Now they don't. At a side event honoring the late senator John McCain, who had been the moving spirit of the Munich conference for decades, Pence announced that "I bring greetings from the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump." He then waited for applause. None came.

Posted by at February 18, 2019 12:00 AM

  

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