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Welcome to the ugliest American

July 13, 2018

Yesterday, as I was strolling through a leafy side street in north London, the air filled with the kind of low-frequency music you sometimes hear coming from a car with high spec sound system, throbbing with menace. Shortly afterwards, the source of noise came into view: two black helicopters, each the size of London buses.

Down below, a couple of builders working on a house refurbishment, stopped, looked up and pointed. “Oi, look”, one of them yelled, “it’s fucking Trump. Shoot the bastard down!”

Though Trump was not in either aircraft – I subsequently discovered that their job was to “support” Marine 1, Trump’s helicopter, presumably with a company of marines armed to the teeth with weaponry of all shapes and sizes – I fancy that he would have appreciated the plain speaking from Brits who he believes like him a lot.

But then again perhaps not. After all he appears to be a person who likes to give it out, but is not so keen on being on the receiving end.

Thus began the visit of a man who treats his country’s allies as vassals to a country held to ransom by politicians who believe that any kind of a deal with the European Union short of a hard exit will turn it into a vassal.

Just as Trump is stomping around Britain issuing unwanted opinions about Brexit, Boris Johnson’s suitability to become Prime Minister and other matters that are none of his business, the BBC is airing Reporting Trump’s First Year: The Fourth Estate, a four-part documentary on the coverage by the New York Times of his first year in office.

Last night I watched Episode 3, which included reaction to the Charlottesville alt-right rally, and included horrendous footage of the car running over anti-Nazi demonstrators, followed by his Phoenix rally in which he incited the hatred of his followers against members of the press directly behind them.

Small wonder that journalists who dare to disparage the man are seeing themselves as being in the front line against his fury. Even smaller wonder after the recent Capital Gazette shootings.

So much has been written about Trump’s followers reacting with glee to their man “telling it like it is” that I’m not proposing to add much to the existing canon. But I still find it amazing that people who, whatever their prejudices, in their private lives are most likely models of civility can applaud so wholeheartedly as their president behaves like a drunken uncle at a party who delights in upsetting his hosts with his provocative opinions.

Now we have this disinhibited would-be tyrant amongst us for a few days before he flies off to Finland to meet a real tyrant, a man who is as tight with his emotions as Trump is incontinent.

I’m not among those who believe that we should welcome the buffoon and shower him with insincere flattery. Now he’s here, we should treat him with courtesy, but let him know privately, in language he understands, that we don’t give a damn about his trade deal, that his opinions on Brexit are not welcome, and that we recognise that as long as he is president, the relationship with his country is no more special than his next chicken nugget.

What, after all, do we have to lose? This is a man who despises the normal conventions of diplomacy, and who appears to have lost any sense of good manners that he ever possessed.

If we cannot deal with this apology for a president, so be it. If NATO collapses at his promting and economies tank because of his trade deals, so be it. Ultimately his country will be among the losers, and American voters will eventually realise that the turkey they voted for won’t be available for Thanksgiving.

Whether it takes two or six years, Trump will eventually be gone. We have no choice but to bide our time and get ready to deal with who or what replaces him. But in the meantime, we don’t have to pretend we’re relishing having him around.

I hope the president enjoys his golf in Scotland, and then flies off to Finland, never to darken our door again.

From → Politics, UK, USA

  1. There’s more to it than that. Fintan O’Toole’s article in the Irish Times yesterday puts meat on the bones of what Trumpism is really all about.

    • thanks for the link Doug. I’m not sure that the end product is fascism – yet. But for sure there’s an attempted power grab going on. Whether it succeeds in the US depends on the level of resistance, translated into votes against his candidates in the midterm elections. Things will be much clearer after November.

      • It’s the 40% threshold that is worrying. If Trump manages to cling to power and that 40% espouse his agenda it could go the way that O’Toole predicts. Even if Trump is voted out, turning back the cultural tide of racist isolationism will be difficult to do.

      • Of course it’s worrying. Though I’m a bit sceptical about such percentages based on historical parallels. Each set of circumstances is different. But I agree the warning signs are there. Here’s a book that I enjoyed, that you might also find interesting:

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