We had no reason to expect a show of statesmanship when Donald Trump addressed the United Nations, and we got none. Once again the wantwit who occupies the highest office in the land put on an astounding display of bluster, demagogic bravado, and disregard for fact or knowledge. It is impressive in its way.
Typically long on rhetoric, short on strategy, the president fulminated against the usual suspects in a torrent of bombast and taunts that prior to January 20, 2017, would have been considered beneath the dignity of the office but is now standard operating procedure. I kept waiting for footage of Trump removing his shoe and pounding on the podium à la Nikita Khruschev back in 1960.
Julian Borger at The Guardian summed it up nicely when he wrote of "a sense of incoherence and a capricious menace." (A blunt, fearful rant: Trump's UN speech left presidential norms in the dust)
Then there was that lunch with a gathering of African leaders. The Nambia/Namibia gaffe got the headlines. It was another remark that jumped out at me:
Africa has tremendous business potential, I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich. I congratulate you, they're spending a lot of money. It has tremendous business potential, representing huge amounts of different markets. ... It's really become a place they have to go, that they want to go. (Chris Cillizza, Donald Trump's comments on Africa at the UN were, um, odd, CNN)
"Odd" hardly captures it.
Commentary from Some of My Usual Sources
Michael Crowley, Did Trump Just Do 'Rocket Man' a Favor? Politico Magazine
When President George H. W. Bush was staring down Saddam Hussein after the Iraq dictator’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the former diplomat spoke in grand terms about international order and rule of law.
But Bush also made the conflict personal. In public speeches, he referred to the Iraqi tyrant only by his first name, as “Saddam”—a pointed discourtesy that drew global attention. For good measure, he mispronounced it—“Sad-um” instead of “Sa-dam”—in a way that sounded like the Arabic word for a barefoot beggar. )
Trump clearly believes that using this kind of belligerent rhetoric to threaten North Korea is the best way to get Kim to back down. But is it? Or does this kind of saber rattling only serve to increase the tension and make war more likely?
To find out, I reached out to eight North Korea experts and asked them for their reactions to the president’s remarks.
Trump's Feel Good Moment is Wrong by Publius Tacitus, Sic Semper Tyrannis
A boss and mentor that played an important part in my life (he retired from the Marine Corps as a Colonel and had two tours in Vietnam) had a saying that is applies to Donald Trump's speech at the UN yesterday (Tuesday)--"If it feels really good it is probably wrong." Trump stood up at the UN and teed off on North Korea, Venezuela and Iran....
I fully understand the emotional satisfaction that comes with telling a despicable soul what you really think. You peel off their skin; a verbal flaying. While that may feel good in the moment, it rarely accomplishes anything other than to make matters worse.