We all know he bends rules and the truth, he tweets faster than he thinks and lacks that smooth veneer that we have all come to expect from the political class (the lies always seem nicer when delivered in the correct polished manner).
What is being missed is that many of Trumps negative impacts are likely to be short lived, or to endure within his administrative term (whatever that may be), but that many of his positive contributions will endure beyond it, particularly in the areas of deregulation and taxation.
The echo chamber of Ireland is absolute, I would challenge a person to find a single article with a positive take on Donald Trump’s presidency in any national news outlet on a weekly basis. The coverage is so one sided that it brings into question the level of general journalistic integrity in Ireland.
Fidel Castro, a murderous and totalitarian dictator, by comparison, received more accolades for his contribution to the world in the Irish media than Trump has thus far.
No president can do only bad, the structure of the office is designed to make that difficult to achieve. He earns his criticisms fairly, but such a one-sided stance comes at the expense of becoming blinded to what his overall presidency may be achieving.
For instance, his foreign policy is broadly acceptable thus far, small olive branches have gone out to nations that the USA typically had tetchy relationships with.
The pre-election anti-sino rants (where ‘China’ is pronounced like the second syllable of ‘vagina’) have ended with nothing more than ongoing status quo, and apparently there was decent rapport with Trump and Xi Jinping when they met.
US footing with Russia is a little better than it was with Obama, Putin is more likely to honour a commitment made to Trump rather that to treat him with the disdain he had for Obama, that may be right for the wrong reasons, but surely large nations are better off getting along than not so?
Despite this thaw, the US hasn’t abandoned sanctions or changed stance on the Ukraine, US bases in Romania and elsewhere are expanding. Headlines say ‘Democrats want to stop Trump from being able to lift sanctions‘ but that’s a cart before the horse story, it hasn’t happened or been set in motion yet and at some point they’ll have to go, that’s what diplomatic resolution and concession will (in time) require.
Are we to believe the Russians are all bad? It’s like a 1980’s spy movie play-back, progressives bemoan travel bans from nations with worse human rights records but treat Russia like a leper who should never be able to leave the leper colony.
The conspiracy supporters will say ‘of course because Russia helped him win’, in fact, it was probably the same Comey who is now a thorn in Trump’s side who did the heavy lifting by going public on Hillary Clinton the same way he is now with Trump, either way, the Clinton campaign lost and that’s just how it goes.
Comey loves the attention, but he is also not afraid to tell it like it is, in testimony just last week Comey admitted that Trump was not ‘under investigation’ on anything to do with Russia during his tenure, while also disclosing how former Obama administration Attorney General Loretta Lynch petitioned him to call his actual investigation into Clinton’s emails a ‘matter’ and not an ‘investigation’ at the behest of Bill Clinton.
Lacking more than 50% of votes and winning is nothing new, people mention the Bush-Gore election of 2000, but let us not forget that Democratic forefather Woodrow Wilson took the 1912 election with less than 42% of the popular vote before going on to imprison and silence anybody who stood in his way (through various means, ranging from jail to forbidding any dissenters from access to the US Postal Service to disseminate literature).
Don’t forget that the US was at war every single year of the Nobel Peace Prize winning former presidents eight-year tenure. For a man who’s election promise was to get out, he not only didn’t do it, but he had the US embroiled in more conflicts in more countries than when he started.
Do people in Ireland know that he was the first ever two-term president to have done that? Eight years of constant war? Of course not, he can only be talked about with the awe of good Catholic genuflecting before the Pope, never forget that he visited here and as a Democrat President and therefore must always be loved.
We apply ‘JFK syndrome’ (which is the Irish version of Stockholm syndrome when it comes to US Democrats) and say he was great irrespective of his record. You’ll note that the many families of the 26,000 bombs a year he dropped around the world may feel differently.
The last time Syria gassed their own people Obama was outraged and did nothing, Trump on the other hand dropped bombs, the message may have been somewhat garbled, but it was clear enough to understand ‘use gas, you get bombed’. Trumps actions in Syria were the right choice, even if done in the wrong way.
The nuanced elements of the ‘how’ and ‘what was achieved’ are of importance to political anoraks, but in the broader sense, it showed that with him red line issues are red lines not to be crossed. American interests in this instance are narrow at best, but the message was unequivocal.
The same goes with North Korea which is not currently considered a genuine threat to the US but they may be to Japan and South Korea. Much of the Trump rhetoric in the past was to tell countries they’d have to step up themselves, he wanted to disengage from costly commitments to other nations.
That said, when it looked like they might have nuclear potential he petitioned for military presence, sent a fleet of warships and got straight into a diplomatic furor with Pyonyang.
In truth, when it comes to foreign policy the partisan argument is that only Obama knew what he was doing and that Trump is a buffoon, or that Trump is finally getting right and that Obama was just an empty-suit. Neither is true, the US is largely on a status-quo journey so far and the dominant position reached over the last fifty years will not unwind or change rapidly.
To come down on either side of the debate with any conviction will mean having to wait a little longer. For now, at least on the front of foreign policy Trump can almost be admired given the situation he inherited, he hasn’t undone the world order as predicted nor has he allowed US power to become subordinate to other powers the way they began to under Obama.
It’s hard to find reasons to admire Donald Trump if you only listen to mainstream media in Ireland, due to the ubiquitous negative coverage it can only mean that our journalists are doing a disservice because there are other aspects to the presidency that are not causing the sky to fall – but try to find them written about in this country? That’s something even harder than admiring Trump.