What followed was what some Trump advisers and allies characterize as a lost summer defined by self-inflicted controversies and squandered opportunities. Trump leveled racist attacks against four congresswomen of color dubbed “the Squad.” He derided the majority-black city of Baltimore as “rat and rodent infested.” His anti-immigrant rhetoric was echoed in a missive that authorities believe a mass shooting suspect posted. His visits to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso following gun massacres in those cities served to divide rather than heal.
Trump’s economy also began to falter, with the markets ping-ponging based on the president’s erratic behavior. His trade war with China grew more acrimonious. His whipsaw diplomacy at the Group of Seven summit left allies uncertain about American leadership. The president returned from his visit to France in a sour mood, frustrated by what he felt was unfairly negative news coverage of his trip.
The two months between Independence Day and Labor Day offered a fresh and vivid portrait of the president as seen by Trump’s critics — incompetent, indecisive, intolerant and ineffective.