The Optics of Trump Overseas

Trump loved his gilded welcome to Saudi Arabia, and he was relaxed and affable with his hosts. He also did well being the center of fawning attention in Israel. The optics when he met other world leaders in Europe were not so great. He doesn’t do well at sharing the stage — I’m sure you’ve seen clips of him pushing the Prime Minister of Montenegro aside. Trump was grumpy and irritable, his facial expressions glowering, and he bombastically chastised our NATO allies — who looked equally grumpy with him. Apparently after the photo the others gathered in informal groups to socialize, leaving Trump alone on the dais.

This is what all the advance planning in the world can’t help. All the PR spin, all the smoothing over of Trump’s ignorant belligerence by people like Mattis and Tillerson and McMaster, goes down the tube when Trump is on his own, interacting with world leaders. He’s an empty suit, and the reality TV president schtick that works so well with his voters at home falls very flat when he’s with world leaders who actually know what they are doing.

My embarrassment that this is who we put in the Oval Office is heightened by the fact that friend and regular reader Bev prompted me to watch Hillary’s full commencement speech at Wellesley. I am yet again filled with sadness at the opportunity lost.

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