From the public reports of his meetings with foreign leaders thus far, Trump has not made a good first impression, especially with our allies. He has been overly “nice” to Putin, constantly saying that if Putin “likes” him, what’s so bad with that?
This from a President who, if you don’t like him, you are an enemy. Putin, though, is truly a master manipulator and I’m guessing has rubbing his hands in joy at the prospect of this meeting.
Trump’s team has said that, in effect, the President has no agenda for his meeting with Putin. The meeting was moved from being a “side meeting,” which typically means it’s just the two principals, to a meeting where aides will attend. That clearly changes the dynamic and offers Trump’s staff what they see as more of a control on the President.
As we’ve learned, though, there is no control on this President. You never know what will come out of his mouth and he probably doesn’t either.
At a press conference today when asked about Russia’s interference in our election last year Trump agreed it was the Russians and then said of course it could be others too, but he can’t say who. Which is it? I go with the 17 intelligence agencies on this one, as does most everyone else.
Does anyone think Trump will all of a sudden become a master diplomat, berate Putin for messing with our election, and make nice-nice to our allies? I’m not looking for any surprises in that vein.
A key point here is Trump’s credibility, or lack thereof.
In a crisis many of us always wondered if we can believe what he says. We are nearing diplomatic crisis with North Korea, and I truly don’t know what to believe from the White House. Trump is antagonizing North Korea, implying we very well could take military action. Decades of experience teaches the rest of us that a fighting war with North Korea puts people in South Korea, Japan and, possibly, the United States in grave danger by a dictator such as leads North Korea today and whose primary goal isn't the safety of his people but the protection of his reign.
Trump, even among his supporters, has low credibility. From his continuous bogus charges of “fake news.” to his and his staffs lies in briefings, to Trump’s own brand of being able to position himself for what he thinks is “plausible deniability” on most anything – you know, that way the Eddie Haskells of the world can say one thing that could mean another to cover their backsides later.
And that’s why the next couple of days are important. How will Trump come out of these two days focused on diplomacy, something he has shown no skill at? How will he handle Putin, known as a master manipulator, who is going against Trump, someone who can be manipulated as we’ve seen?
Will Trump raise Russia’s meddling in our election, which is something all 17 of our intelligence agencies agree they did? Or will Trump let it slide to match his true view that “it could have been anyone” and, anyway, any meddling takes away from his 2016 win so he can’t accept such a fact. Kind of like his waste-of-time-and-money commission to investigate domestic fraud in our elections because that’s the only way he can accept that Hillary Clinton beat him in the popular vote. And the reality is, it doesn’t matter anyway. As he likes to say, he won and he is the President. Will he reestablish the United States as the leader of the free world?
I don’t have high hopes for the next two days. I don’t see Trump all of a sudden becoming a master diplomat or someone who stands up for the country’s needs rather than his own.
This would be a nice time for Trump to surprise us all.