The Last Straw
A day or so ago a well-known London tabloid published a picture of U.S. President Donald Trump sitting in a favourite chair of Sir Winston Churchill, when he was visiting Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, her country home while she remains in office. Pasted across the picture was a headline that blasted, “HOW DARE YOU!” I heartedly agree with that sentiment.
The inherent difference between Donald Trump and Winston Churchill is that Churchill waged war, both figuratively and literally, against his enemies and Trump relishes in undermining and demeaning his friends and allies and placating his enemies. Furthermore, Churchill would never act in an insulting manner to the Queen of England. Trump did not hesitate to do so, either out of ignorance or intent, both of which are inexcusable. He does not hold a candle to Churchill or to the Queen for that matter, although there is little doubt he believes himself to be superior to both. After all, it is all about him.
Donald Trump’s whirlwind visit to Europe, which ends tomorrow following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been nothing short of a train wreck. Nicholas Burns, a Republican and a U.S Ambassador to NATO under President George W. Bush, called Trump’s visit to Europe, “the most chaotic and destructive of any American President”. In just a few short days, Trump managed to blast NATO, misrepresent the outcome, dump all over Germany, call the European Union his “foe”, trounce on London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a Muslim who he declared, without a shred of proof, was soft on terrorism, undermine British Prime Minister Theresa May and suggest that Boris Johnson, who recently bolted from May’s Cabinet over Brexit, would “make a great Prime Minister”. Oh, and did I mention that on top of all of that he insulted the Queen? And then for an encore, Trump denies that much of this actually happened!
Denial is a key ingredient of Trump’s makeup. If he doesn’t want to believe it, it didn’t happen. If he says one thing one day and contradicts it the next, what he said in the first instance never took place. It is an incredible dance and even more incredible that he gets away with it.
In spite of overwhelming evidence that Russian hackers interfered in the 2016 U.S. election and aided his campaign, Trump barely gives it lip service and when he does, he places the blame on former President Obama or the Democratic Party and not on his acknowledged friend, Vladimir Putin. What is fascinating about this is that an indictment released by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday, states that Russian Intelligence operatives allegedly hacked into Clinton’s personal office on the very same day, July 27th, 2016, that Donald Trump invited them to do so by saying, “Russia, if you are listening, I hope you’ll be able to find the 30,000 (Clinton) e-mails that are missing.” Yet Trump is in denial and has declined to offer even mild criticism of Russia.
A recent newspaper article suggests that President Trump lies about five times each and every day, a staggering figure if true. Trump himself has said, in one of his books, that if you tell a lie three times, people will believe it. My own view is that Trump often does not know the difference between truth and fiction. Through my personal experience with him, I believe he has a very short attention span. Some might call it Attention Deficit Disorder. In some ways, he has an incredible mind, but it moves at a mile a minute. He believes, in my view, whatever comes out of his mouth at the time and does not relate it to something he may have said before. He also believes strongly in his own brand. It really is all about him and he fundamentally believes that is what will make America great again. He is incapable of admitting fault and thrives on praise. And so. if you criticize Donald Trump, you are attacking his brand and if you do that, you are an enemy of the people as he recently labelled a large portion of the media. All pretty unsettling when you think about it.
Yet, what cannot be denied, is that at least with the American people, Donald Trump’s favourability rate is as high as it has been since his election, hovering around 50 per cent. One cannot help to wonder why. Perhaps it is because he has enabled people to react and to talk about things that were previously taboo, such as race and immigration. Perhaps it is because for all his bluster, for all his boorishness, he is making people feel good about themselves. And perhaps it is because, whatever anyone may say about his tactics, the American economy, at least for now, is strong.
Many Americans, in my view, support Donald Trump because of the good they perceive he is doing for the United States and they are prepared to overlook or hold their nose when it comes to his serious imperfections. I get that. There are others however, the extreme right or alt right of American politics, who are latching on to his erratic and populist movement to promote white supremacy and autocratic rule. Some even believe that people who dare to question Trump’s morality, motives or competence, should be denied their basic right to vote, a real challenge to democratic freedom.
These are the really scary people. I hope we do not have too many like that in Canada. That would be the last straw.
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