It's not a good sign when an op-ed piece in the Washington Post uses the terms incompetent, stupid, and a "cartoon version of a presidency" in connection with Donald Trump.
The President's supporters are already making their standard remarks about a left-wing press. Sure, the Washington Post along with the New York Times may be tilted to the left, but not thoroughly so, and are as good as any in taking seriously what can pass their editorial checks.
The President himself is more experienced in the creation of false facts.
Skeptics can check the item in question, and see if any of the numerous examples of presidential flubs seem composed out of thin air. Among its details is a survey showing that 58 percent of Americans feel embarrassed by their President.
Republicans in Congress are among those who are challenging Trump tweets and proposals as going beyond what they can accept. The issue of health care reform is in trouble. It's been called an "epic defeat" for the President and the Republican leadership in the House. That it went down to defeat by squabbles among Republicans is not a good sign for the Oval Office.
The cartoonist of Haaretz contributes his version of the failure. He shows a battered Trump, accompanied by one of his women, with Obama as pharmacist asking what he needs.
Key Republicans are also going after the President's linkages with Russians. Federal judges are using the President's own words in their rulings against his orders about refugees.
There's also research showing Muslim migrants to Europe and the US are less likely to be violent that non-Muslim Europeans or Americans.
If Donald is serious about dealing with American violence, he'll start with the kind of people who voted for him.
Beyond being entertained or embarrassed, we should all worry about what the most powerful individual in the world can do.
Somewhere on the man's agenda is North Korea. It's scary--and realistic--to imagine an offensive against that country's nuclear facilities.
Think back to George W. Bush, and his well intentioned but disastrous campaign to rid the world of Saddam Hussein. No doubt Saddam was evil and dangerous, but he was contained within Iraq and arguably suitable to keeping that country together.
So far the results of Bush's efforts are somewhere above a million Iraqis dead, many more refugees, and the creation of an Islamic State that has brought chaos to Iraq, Syria and Libya, as well as threatening Europe and the US..
Trump can justifiably blame Barack Obama's incompetence in foreign affairs for letting the North Korean nuclear program advance beyond the point where surgical strikes could have ended it.
Now the prospect of surgery would be hard pressed to end its danger before a nuclear tipped missile falls on South Korea or Japan.
Then what would happen if China responds to an American attack on its ally?
The results of a Trump attack against North Korea would dwarf the damage done by Bush by removing Saddam Hussein.
Must Trump act?
Substantial contacts over the years among South Korean academics, government officials, and journalists have shown lesser worry about their cousins to the north than can be heard from American officials and commentators.
North Korea is evil with respect to its own people, and often threatens others, but seemingly is contained.
It may take a subtlety of pressures and temptations, perhaps via China, to do good while living up to the physician's Hippocratic Oath to "Do no harm," or the political equivalent, "Don't makes things worse."
Does subtlety of international politics sound right alongside labels of incompetence, stupid, and "a cartoon version of a presidency?"
It's not difficult to extend the labels of incompetence and cartoon to previous Presidents.
First in line would be Barack Obama. He qualifies by being the most recent, and arguably also first in terms of the incompetence displayed in that Cairo speech calling for equality and democracy throughout the Middle East, and again in that speech condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but indicating that he'd do nothing about it.
Obama is widely ridiculed among the elites of the Middle East, who he thought could be brought into the culture he had acquired in the Middle West.
Next in line with respect to history is George W. Bush, and some would say even more incompetent than Barack Obama or--so far--Donald Trump. GWB certainly leads the list for the Iraqi casualties attributed to him, since he heroically deposed their ruler and replaced him with nothing.
From GWB we might skip back to John F. Kennedy, who gains status on the list of incompetence via the Bay of Pigs, and turning the Vietnam civil war into a war that cost 55,000 American lives, escalated Americans' use of drugs, and ended in defeat..
None of the Presidents mentioned here are free of credible accomplishments, although we're still waiting for something to praise in the case of Donald Trump. Obama deserves credit for advancing US health care, and JFK for finessing world war in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
On all of these points, it's possible to argue, and comments are welcome.
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)Department of Political ScienceHebrew University of Jerusalem