The stereotype of the ugly American got another unfortunate workout at home and abroad this week.
In Europe we witnessed yet more examples of Donald Trump’s bizarre bullying handshake, in which he attempts to pull world leaders toward him in a move that seems intended to assert his dominance.
But instead of making America look great, it lead to global laughter and a million shared Twitter posts lampooning Trump for his belligerence.
Trump’s strongman theatrics makes for a stark contrast with Ronald Reagan, the late president who was in office when Trump really started making a name for himself in New York.
Donald Trump pushes his way to front of world leaders at NATO summit pic.twitter.com/RknwGQeKTg— RTÉ News (@rtenews) May 25, 2017
Ronald Reagan was never a blinkered ideologue; he could work across the aisle; he strongly supported immigrants rather than targeted them; he expanded access to health care for women rather than working to cut it; and he held his head up proudly on the world stage instead of puffing out his chest like a bilious penguin. He’s the measure of how far the modern GOP has fallen.
Macron walks directly towards Trump, swerves at the last second to greet Angela Merkel first instead. Spectacular. https://t.co/mygGx8nUsQ— Jack Maidment (@jrmaidment) May 25, 2017
Reagan’s immortal speech at the Berlin Wall, his crusade to end the Cold War were monumental accomplishments. Donald Trump’s main achievement to date has been selling the Saudis more arms so they can get even crazier in the little proxy war they started in Yemen against Iran.
Then at home we listened astonished to Montana’s just elected Congressman Greg Gianforte lose it on tape, violently choking and body slamming Guardian newspaper reporter Ben Jacobs, who was simply doing his job and asking hard questions in the public interest.
Instead of voicing outrage over the assault however, Republican leaders responded instead with near total silence.
Vice President Pence’s press secretary had no comment. House Speaker Paul Ryan said that it was up to the people of Montana to decide who would best represent them without offering any further condemnation and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers said: “From what I know of Greg Gianforte, this was totally out of character, but we all make mistakes.”
Mistakes? Gianforte didn’t trip, he didn’t tell an off color joke, he choked and body slammed a journalist to the ground and was later charged with assault.
JUST IN: New audio released of Montana GOP candidate Greg Gianforte allegedly body-slamming a reporter https://t.co/YBHjA43iAo— MSNBC (@MSNBC) May 25, 2017
Even KECI, the local right-leaning television station in Montana was following the Republican omerta code. New York Magazine reported that KECI’s news director Julie Weindel had refused to cover the assault shortly after it happened saying she believed that reporter Jacobs was “a reporter for a politically biased publication.”
Are we to check the political beliefs of the just assaulted now to decide if they are worth acknowledging? Is that where we are? Are our politics that broken?
If you check the party affiliation of someone who commits assaults before deciding how you feel about it, you're what's wrong with America.— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) May 26, 2017
How blindly partisan do you have to be to excuse the completely inexcusable? The blind pursuit of power has gotten so bad in the GOP that we have to wonder what would actually stop a conservative from voting Republican now? Incest? Cannibalism? Murder?
In Washington, they used to talk of the steadying hand of the Elder Statesmen. It was a patrician term used to describe party elders who could be depended upon to right the ship of state when president or senior house and senate members had steered it off course.
They would fulfill this weighty role regardless of their party affiliation, because they understood that at the end of the day they were conducting the nation’s business, and they were willing to put the nation first.
Those days are gone. The seriousness of purpose of those elder statesmen has been lost. In their place now is a faithless, foundationless win by any means necessary party and it’s Republican’s First mantra.
This week former Speaker John Boehner candidly admitted that almost everything Trump has done to date has been a complete disaster. Boehner is off the reservation and is free to speak his mind as at no time in his prior career. But that he couldn’t say what he thought whilst he held the gavel says everything you need to know about the state of our politics. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Paul Ryan.