For those who may have been too distracted by impeachment proceedings to follow campaign politics, let us catch you up: Former Vice President Joe Biden released a video this week deriding the president as a global laughingstock. To this we must rise to Mr. Trump’s defense and say, “alternative facts.”
Mr. Biden’s campaign would have the American people believe that because a video recently surfaced showing top NATO leaders openly mocking President Trump at the London summit, he has somehow recently — perhaps this week, this month or even this year — lost the respect of the world. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If there’s one thing that Americans can have absolute faith in, it’s this: World leaders never had a high opinion of President Trump. The behind-the-back snickering is nothing new, aside from its capture on tape. Since the moment he took the oath of office (and likely before), he’s been regarded as a 21st century version of Margaret Dumont from the Marx Brothers movies who gets played right and left by the sharpies around her. Sometimes, it’s funny, as when he once claimed Korea used to be part of China or suggested Israel was outside the Middle East. Often, it’s scary as when he scorns allies, embraces tin-pot dictators and seems completely oblivious to, and uninterested in, the role U.S. diplomacy plays in the world.
Granted, that video clip is some pretty high school-level stuff as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to be leading a gossip circle with his buds, French President Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and, the one that must really hurt, Britain’s Trump-like prime minister, Boris Johnson (Et tu, Boris?). They appear to be laughing uproariously at the jaw-dropping reaction of the Trump “team” at their boss’ wide-ranging remarks to the press. No wonder the president later called Mr. Trudeau “two-faced” and decided not to do a planned news conference at at the summit’s close.
But is it really any worse than September of last year when President Trump was openly scorned at the United Nations after he bragged about all this administration’s record “accomplishments” and the delegates just laughed? “I didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK,” was the president’s response. Perhaps he thought it was a translation problem.
Mr. Biden’s ad never makes the claim that the worldview of Mr. Trump is only recently diminished, of course. But then that’s the oddity of going after the president based on snickering instead of listing his long, sad string of foreign policy failures such as his tariff wars and inability to make much headway on trade agreements, his abandonment of the Kurds in Syria, his made-for-TV flirtations with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un who continues to test missiles and develop nuclear weapons and his rejection of the Iran nuclear deal or Paris Agreement on climate change.
And that’s not even throwing in his recent aside about how it’s a “very interesting question” about whether the U.S. should still recognize NATO’s Article 5 and rush to the aid of any member country that comes under attack. Seriously? It’s moments like that when one assumes Vladimir Putin hands out some more Hero of the Russian Federation medals to his operatives involved in 2016 U.S. election interference (and likely sets aside more for 2020).
A president who goes through national security advisers (he’s on his fourth) like the rest of us replace our furnace air filters is unlikely to inspire a lot of confidence in the world stage. Trump supporters seems to love the president’s disrespect of allies, his disdain for diplomatic convention, his hot-and-cold approach to trade negotiations but this is largely because, we assume, they are simply unaware of the good that calm, reasoned, cautious and rational diplomacy has done to maintain the peace and promote this nation’s prosperity.
Thus, the Trudeau video tape and Mr. Biden’s campaign ad aren’t likely to change a lot of minds. U.S. voters don’t often make foreign policy a top issue when they go to the polls anyway. Even so, let the record show that ridicule of the buffoonery on the world stage by the nation’s 45th president is positively not a new thing, nor is the buffoonery itself. At this particular behavior, the president might truly be the greatest ever.