President Donald J. Trump had an excellent week as captain of the USS Ship of State, at the G-20 Summit, just concluded of the world’s largest economies in Hamburg, Germany. Well, he really didn’t have such a great showing — he was shunned, isolated, and marginalized — but anytime, any place where The Donald does not utterly humiliate himself and the United States counts as a “good” week for him.
Never mind that more than 100,000 protesters flooded the streets of Hamburg, many, specifically targeting Trump. Marchers carried banners reading, “Welcome to Hell” and “The World is Not for Sale.” Heavily armed riot police, who used water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the protests, met them.
For those hoping that another monumental unforced error might bring the government to the tipping point where the presidency literally undoes itself, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but “45” has learned enough and mastered his “inside Washington game” to the point where he’ll probably manage to last four years in office and likely win re-election in 2020.
Even the stigma of not having a customary luxury hotel for his headquarters because the U.S. waited too late to confirm Trump’s attendance, and reports that first lady Melania Trump was delayed once in traffic, did not tarnish the “Trump Brand.”
His punching bag for all the problems this country is facing, is to accelerate the “bully-colonizer-ugly-American” stereotype and to encourage white, xenophobic, tribal behavior, such as he received from right-wing nationalists, bused in by the government to cheer his doomsday-clash-of-civilizations scenario. In other words: “Blame Obama.”
The grass-roots response? A rise in open Ku Klux Klan members around this country, and right-wing white nationalistic groupings in Europe.
“So if the United States shows some signs of deviation from what we’ve been talking about before [regarding diversity and political correctness], we have people ready to say, ‘Yes. Yes. Let’s get ’em,’” Edward Peck, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told me in an interview. “But we have been stoking the fire with things that our leaders have said and things that they have implied, and things that they have threatened to change.”
The Trump message “is more of a downbeat, than an upbeat stance that he has taken,” he said.
“A lot of people recognize the problems to which he is referring,” Peck said. “They do not necessarily consider them to be an ‘end of the world’-type thing. But there are deep and growing concerns about all of the strange, unusual, and unexpected and undesirable things that have happened, and there are people ready to blame it on us.”
“I mean, why not?” Peck said. “We’ve been the leader of the free world, the West, for the last several decades, and a lot of people resented that, as we behaved in what some people called an imperialistic fashion, doing whatever we wanted, wherever we wanted, because no one felt it necessary to stop us, and now that is a switch from what we’re doing now, in which we’re telling everybody, the end is near and if you don’t do this the way I say, then civilization will collapse. I think, I hope, that that is grossly overstated, overestimated, and highly unlikely.”
So, no matter the result, the furor, the hubbub around this, that or the other, 45’s team has got this thing covered. Respect for the United States will prevent cheap theatrics like literally shoving another president aside to get to the front row, during a G-7 European summit earlier this year.
Team Trump has now been tested on the world stage: a one-on-one with former KGB colonel Vladimir Putin; the cheering throngs in Warsaw. What’s not to admire?
By the “Trump Standard,” Donald J. Trump has now demonstrated himself to be a capable world leader. Albeit leading a committee of one, and leading from behind.