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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Even in this era of parallel universes, where facts are no longer facts, history is no longer history, allies are no longer allies, and foreign thugs are no longer foreign thugs, President Trump’s worldwide tantrum-and-torpedo tour has been truly bizarre.

  • You can fairly argue Germany should pony up more for NATO defense or trim a few tariffs on U.S. goods. But it’s harder to argue Germany has been anything other than a trustworthy and resolute ally. (Trump is correct that Germany's leadership has allowed its military to become badly depleted. And the reality is that it can't provide much meaningful assistance to the U.S. And, yes, the Russian gas pipeline is a problem.) But Trump turned Angela Merkel, the staunchest of U.S. partners, into a confused, aggrieved skeptic playing footsie with China on trade. 
  • You can fairly argue Britain has its internal issues and its people have been unusually hostile to the Trump presidency. But it’s hard to argue Britain has been anything other than America’s strongest ally, even when it hurts or is unpopular. Then Trump kneecapped Theresa May on her own soil. Trump's trip did horrors for the British public's view of him. But May knows she needs the U.S., so she stiff-upper-lipped it.
  • You can fairly argue that engaging Russia is better than escalation. But it’s hard to argue that Mueller's methodical investigation is a witch hunt.

Be smart: Trump legitimizes patently illegitimate behavior by publicly coddling Putin.

The irony is that if Trump just kept his mouth shut, his actions would put him in a much better spot with America's allies:

  • He's definitely harmed European relationships through his steel and aluminum relationships, withdrawal from Paris, and withdrawal from the Iran deal.
  • But he's also done stuff the Continent likes — including substantially increasing American military investment in Europe from the Obama years.
  • Oh, and on this trip he signed the NATO joint statement reaffirming all of the allies' commitments.

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Economy & Business

Americans are super-sizing their holiday travel

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are rushing back into holiday travel, and many are taking even longer trips now than they did before the pandemic began.

The big picture: After skipping Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings last year, many people are eager to maximize this year's celebrations with friends and family. And flexible remote working arrangements make that easier than ever.

Updated 12 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Pity the "green" car buyer

Expand chart
Data: IHS Markit Data; Note: Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Americans are more open than ever to trading in their gas cars for electrified vehicles — but they're flummoxed by the confusing array of green options arriving in showrooms.

Why it matters: Getting up to speed on the differences among hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles will be a challenge for car buyers — and salespeople, too — as we transition away from gas-powered vehicles over the next decade.

Updated 12 mins ago - Technology

America's attention recession

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New data shows that there's been a pullback from the historically high levels of media audience growth — and in some cases consumption — during 2020, pointing to signs of a slight "attention recession" in the past few months.

The big picture: The COVID-19 pandemic drove a once-in-a-lifetime surge in the attention economy online, but the gradual return of normal life in many places — along with media overload and exhaustion — has down-shifted consumption patterns.