For those following foreign policy, NPR interviewed Mary Beth Long this morning. She opined that Trump is doing the smart thing by inviting the Chinese for a visit before inviting the Russians.
The strategy is really just common sense: China needs to yank North Korea's chain viz nuclear missile tests, and the administration needs to appear not overly eager to entertain Russia as investigations of election diddling and business dealings continue.
Still, always a comfort to hear that the current administration is doing something rational.
But there's a problem when Trump invites foreign dignitaries to his resort instead of the White House. The kickbacks and advertising Trump Inc. gets from these visits aside--and it's no small aside--the White House is a symbol of the presidency. And that's where state visits should start and end; he can drag them to Florida to look at his gilded property mid-visit if he wants to.
I know it's a little thing and symbolic (but these little symbols often send big unspoken messages in the world of international relations; I know because I watch "Madam Secretary" like everybody else).
Holding official meetings at Mar-a-Lago sends a subtle message that representatives of other nations are dealing not with the U.S., but with Trump personally.
Trump is proud of his iconoclasm, which he often mistakes as a sign that he's smarter than everyone else. But there is a certain stability and gravitas conveyed in meeting state officials at our state buildings and not some toney golf club for rich people.
--Jean Hughes Raber