Forget waterboarding, enduring 41 minutes of Donald Trump’s vision of the world, punctuated by incessant hand gestures, smug self-congratulatory approval of the fact that he can read off a teleprompter, and sophomoric depictions of foreign leaders, is pure unadulterated torture. It is also an embarrassing exercise that tests forbearance and begs forgiveness from our allies.
To our allies, sorry, but this is our president, for now.
If brevity is indeed the soul of wit, this speech was the hallmark of a nitwit. Mixed in among a healthy dose of bellicosity and bravado was the trademark Trump campaign fodder, i.e. a recitation of how well things are in America since he was elected. Wrong message, wrong audience, Don. But he simply cannot help himself.
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is often referred to as a masterful speech, all 273 words, which given the standard metric of 3 words per second means it was probably delivered in less than 2 minutes. But timing aside, the lack of inspiration, vision, or anything resembling diplomatic appreciation leaves one with two impressions of the Trump speech: first, it contained a lot of words; second, it represents a dark and disturbing view of us versus them. There is no starker evidence of the isolationist character of Trump’s vision than the fact that in the body in which he spoke 192 nations are committed to addressing the global specter of climate change while one nation stands alone in its refusal, us the U.S.
Trump will never be compared to Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy or Barack Obama in terms of oratory skills, but one might just hope that he would strive for a level higher than Donald Duck. While Trump is seemingly quite satisfied and proud of his depiction of Kim Jong Un as “rocket man”, I am sure to the great consternation of Sir Elton John, he evokes comparison with another of John’s creations: namely, “madman across the waters.” In keeping with entertainment metaphors, although there was nothing entertaining about what can only be described as a fanciful rant, Trump once again showed how ill-prepared and simplistic he is as he reprised the role of Biff Tannen from Back to the Future. Trump is quite simply a bully.
Today’s speech is emblematic of the dangerously unstable state of affairs that threatens both this nation and the world as Trump bullies his way through life. His quest for a legislative victory, any victory, regardless of content or consequence, is once again propelling a Republican Congress to entertain disastrous changes to a health care system that neither cares for nor provides health to millions of Americans. Once again, without any empirical data or cost assessments as to the effects such legislation would levy, Congress is seriously on the brink of enacting legislation that will be a death sentence to many Americans.
Welcome to TrumpWorld. We are provoking North Korea with talk of “total destruction,” threatening to renege on our commitment to the Iran nuclear deal, deconstructing environmental regulations in an effort to promote obsolete industries like coal, promoting widespread discrimination against the transgender community, attempting to codify voter suppression of minority communities, toying with mass deportation of Dreamers, and giving solace to white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK by spewing false equivalency mantras with respect to the alt-right. And to compound matters Trump is committed to doing this on his own as his administration refuses to fill important government positions, prominently so in the diplomatic corps, to deal with critical issues of governance.
This is the world that Trump envisions. Can the Special Prosecutor please speed up the timetable for criminal prosecution of Trump and his political allies. I fear we are running out of time before serious damage is done. We have forsaken our moral leadership in both the foreign and domestic arenas and the drumbeat for war is getting louder.