Sunday, January 28, 2018

Same Trump, Different Venue

During the presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump claimed on Facebook "Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays."  In one of the general election debates, he argued Saudis are "people that push gays off buildings" and "kill women and treat women horribly."

Later but merely four months into his presidency, he presented a gift worth $109.7 billion when, as The Independent reported, he “signed the largest arms deal in history with Saudi Arabia despite warnings he could be accused of being complicit in war crimes and after blaming Saudi Arabia himself for producing the terrorists behind 9/11."

While Trump was campaigning, China was "ripping us off, folks" in "the greatest theft in the history of the world."   As President, he visits Chiese President Xi Jinping and suddenly it's "I don't blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able  to take advantage of another country to the benefit of its citizens?"

There is more going on here than always blaming America first.  When the President fired FBI Director James Comey in May, he didn't do the deed himself. Instead, he boldly gave his bodyguard a letter to deliver the bad news to Comey.

It's more comfortable doing things that way rather than in-person, man to man, man to woman, or by some direct means. That's why it was disconcerting to read that CNN's usually rational and even occasionally insightful Fareed Zakaria was surprised when

On Friday at the World Economic Forum, Trump gave a good speech that was forthright, intelligent and conciliatory, embracing the world rather than condemning it. The address was extremely well received here at the World Economic Forum by both American business leaders and even non-American attendees, who are overwhelmingly skeptical of Trump overall.

By most accounts, the speech was not quite the huge hit Zakaria believed it was. Still, his point is valid: the President of the United States of America (formerly the leader of the free world) was positively civilized. He did not drool at the mouth, suggest racist motives, or slur his words. He was at his best.

But that's not surprising. Zakaria argues "if the speech represents a new approach for the president, it will be a huge step forward." Yet, it is not a new approach. It is the same old Trump, dressed up and cooled off in front of an audience which did not want to see Twitter Trump.

Twitter is the perfect stage for Donald Trump. It allows him to spout off at all his enemies, real and imagined, while not directly facing them. At Davos, he merely had to be Salesman Trump, asking the world to join him in entering the age of utopia he is ushering in as alpha president.

Back in Washington, D.C. in the land he hates, Trump will not be a different Trump. He will be the same Trump, lobbing insults and invective every which way as the mood, and his interests, suit him. It's easy to do when you're communicating at long distance, your spine is jello, and your leadership is no leadership at all.

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