A weird week in US politics

EDITORIAL

A television scriptwriter working two years ago could not have fashioned a more outlandish and unlikely screenplay than the week that has just played out in US politics, with unprecedented claims and actions seemingly running off an assembly line.

A new book by Bob Woodward of Watergate fame kicked things off with allegations that White House staff were working behind the scenes to try to mitigate or prevent some of President Donald Trump’s most extreme suggestions.

That was quickly topped by an anonymous opinion piece in the New York Times said to have been written by a member of his inner circle. Echoing Woodward’s claims, the article praised the unsung heroes who were actively subverting the will of the president.

Unsurprisingly it threw Trump into a rage. He launched a hunt for the offender, demanding that all his major aides confirm they are not responsible.

Woe betide the individual if they are ever found.

While the Times piece will delight Trump’s critics, you would have to wonder at the integrity of someone who would do this to their leader. The credibility of the Times, one of the country’s most respected papers, is also on the line.

Meanwhile Barack Obama broke a tradition that former presidents do not comment on their successor, naming Trump in a speech in which he said the United States was at a “pivotal moment”.

In the UK the intriguing story of the poisoning attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia took another major step, with Prime Minister Theresa May naming two Russians she said were responsible.

Britain has been strongly supported by key Western allies, who agree that the Russian government “almost certainly” gave the green light for the attack.

It all tended to overshadow New Zealand politics where the biggest development was the resignation of Cabinet Minister Clare Curran, who will probably now be best remembered for her inept performance at Question Time.

None of it, however, is going to take the smile off Tairawhiti faces after Friday’s announcement of a $152.7 million boost for this region.

A television scriptwriter working two years ago could not have fashioned a more outlandish and unlikely screenplay than the week that has just played out in US politics, with unprecedented claims and actions seemingly running off an assembly line.

A new book by Bob Woodward of Watergate fame kicked things off with allegations that White House staff were working behind the scenes to try to mitigate or prevent some of President Donald Trump’s most extreme suggestions.

That was quickly topped by an anonymous opinion piece in the New York Times said to have been written by a member of his inner circle. Echoing Woodward’s claims, the article praised the unsung heroes who were actively subverting the will of the president.

Unsurprisingly it threw Trump into a rage. He launched a hunt for the offender, demanding that all his major aides confirm they are not responsible.

Woe betide the individual if they are ever found.

While the Times piece will delight Trump’s critics, you would have to wonder at the integrity of someone who would do this to their leader. The credibility of the Times, one of the country’s most respected papers, is also on the line.

Meanwhile Barack Obama broke a tradition that former presidents do not comment on their successor, naming Trump in a speech in which he said the United States was at a “pivotal moment”.

In the UK the intriguing story of the poisoning attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia took another major step, with Prime Minister Theresa May naming two Russians she said were responsible.

Britain has been strongly supported by key Western allies, who agree that the Russian government “almost certainly” gave the green light for the attack.

It all tended to overshadow New Zealand politics where the biggest development was the resignation of Cabinet Minister Clare Curran, who will probably now be best remembered for her inept performance at Question Time.

None of it, however, is going to take the smile off Tairawhiti faces after Friday’s announcement of a $152.7 million boost for this region.

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