I Sure Hope Helsinki Was Just Another Reality-Show Episode on the Trump Show

Nikolsky Alexei/TASS via ZUMA

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Like everybody else in the country, David Frum is disturbed that Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin alone for two hours:

Typically—in fact, almost invariably—the national-security adviser joins the president’s meetings with foreign leaders, especially adversarial ones. You may remember the famous picture of President Nixon talking for the first time with Chairman Mao. In the wider-angle image, Henry Kissinger shows up just outside the close-up frame. Or think of President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in Iceland, chatting informally on a red couch—and surrounded by note takers, cabinet secretaries, and senior aides.

It’s highly disturbing that Trump would exclude his own national-security adviser from his conversations with Putin. The exclusion bespeaks a lack of presidential confidence in his closest foreign-policy aide. For Bolton to acquiesce is equally disturbing: It suggests overeagerness to hold on to a high office whose functions he is not trusted to perform.

Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t trust Bolton either, but I didn’t hire him as my National Security Adviser.

But what I’m really more disturbed about is this: has Trump told anyone what he talked to Putin about? Is Bolton still in the dark? Coats? Pompeo? Mattis? Haspel? Huntsman? Pence? Kelly? Nakasone? Anyone?

I don’t have anything sophisticated and nuanced to say about this except that it’s fucking nuts. I suppose the best possible option is that this is just Trump doing his reality-show suspense thing, and nothing really happened. But everything goes straight downhill from there.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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