Season of weakness: A president who prizes strength enters key stretch in a fragile state

Trump now finds himself mired in a season of weakness. Foreign leaders feel emboldened to reject his pleas or to contradict him. Officials inside his administration are openly defying his wishes by participating in the impeachment probe. Federal courts have ruled against him. Republican lawmakers are criticizing him. He has lost control over major conservative media organs. Polling shows that Americans increasingly disapprove of his job performance and support his impeachment…

“When he got on the phone call with Erdogan, he was weak as could be,” Schumer said Thursday on MSNBC. “He should have told Erdogan: ‘You can’t do this. America’s not going to let you do this.’ Instead, he green-lights Erdogan, and then a few hours later sends this ranting, rambling letter that shows ersatz toughness — and to show you the effect, Erdogan ignored the letter.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s claim of brokering a major trade “deal” with China after months of acrimonious negotiations has been undermined in Beijing, where Chinese officials for the past week have refused to confirm key elements of the supposed agreement — a clear sign of continuing disagreement between the two parties.

“It’s deflating when the curtain is pulled back and the Wizard of Oz is a little guy,” said David Axelrod, who served as senior adviser in the Obama White House. “If your whole predicate is strength and everywhere you turn there are signs of weakness, it is a danger.”