With his young presidency bogged down in a series of mostly self-inflicted crises, the bar for Trump’s whirlwind global tour was set so low that if he gets through it with only a handful of minor international incidents, it’ll be considered a success by many observers.
After Trump delivered a somnolent reading of a tepid speech to Muslim leaders in Riyadh on Sunday—an address that literally put Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to sleep—veteran CBS broadcaster Bob Schieffer said that Trump “helped himself today because he didn’t sound like the guy at the end of the bar popping off.” Instead, said Schieffer, the president of the United States “actually sounded presidential.”
And it’s true that Trump didn’t go to Saudi Arabia and say, “I think Islam hates us,” or “they’re a sick people,” or recount his phony story about Gen. John Pershing killing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood. As Schieffer put it, “no tweets today, but a dignified speech.”
But let’s not grade a guy holding the nuclear codes on a curve. Three days into the trip, and Trump’s already shown the world that the United States is being governed by a brittle man-child. And if he manages to get through it without causing a major international incident, it will only be because foreign leaders have done a competent job dumbing down any complex diplomatic issues that may arise and feeding the insatiable ego of our embarrassment in chief.
Prior to the trip, foreign diplomats advised their governments to speak slowly to Trump and make sure to use only small words. That’s a slight exaggeration, but Peter Baker reported for The New York Times that “foreign officials and their Washington consultants say certain rules [for dealing with Trump] have emerged: Keep it short—no 30-minute monologue for a 30-second attention span. Do not assume he knows the history of the country or its major points of contention. Compliment him on his Electoral College victory. Contrast him favorably with President Barack Obama. Do not get hung up on whatever was said during the campaign. Stay in regular touch.” The rest of the world appears to have concluded that our president is an idiot.