President Donald Trump on Monday became the first sitting U.S. President to visit the Western Wall, only 48 hours after he was met by King Salman of Saudi Arabia on the red carpet as he stepped off of Air Force One, and he didn’t bow to anybody.
Contrast that with his predecessor’s so-called “apology tour” that came early in 2009, which many of Barack Obama’s critics have suggested set the tone for eight years of America being played the patsy by foreign leaders.
Rather than draw a red line in the sand in Syria that was not enforced, the new president sat down to dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mar-a-Lago while a barrage of missiles rained down on a Syrian airfield. The Russians called this an act of aggression, but notice they really didn’t do anything else. But that airstrike got the entire world’s immediate attention.
As recalled by Cal Thomas earlier this year in the pages of the Washington Times about Obama’s first European visit, “At a town hall meeting before a mix of French and German citizens in Strasbourg, France, on April 3, 2009, the president said the United States was partially to blame for increased tensions with Europe following the Iraq war: ‘There have been times where America [has] shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive’ toward Europe.”
Trump rode to the presidency declaring he wanted to “Make America great again.”
There is a marvelous scene in the 1975 film, The Wind and The Lion, in which the late Brian Keith, portraying President Theodore Roosevelt on a hunting trip along the Yellowstone, held forth about the United States in a way that struck a chord for many in the audience. Said Keith’s Teddy:
“The American grizzly is a symbol of the American character: strength, intelligence, ferocity. Maybe a little blind and reckless at times… but courageous beyond all doubt. And one other trait that goes with all previous… Loneliness. The American grizzly lives out his life alone. Indomitable, unconquered – but always alone. He has no real allies, only enemies, but none of them as great as he.
“Certainly. The world will never love us. They respect us – they might even grow to fear us. But they will never love us, for we have too much audacity! And, we’re a bit blind and reckless at times too.”
Whether that analysis was accurate is up to the historians, but America has been a friend and ally to many in the world when it mattered.
Trump has done this while the mainstream media is still determined to wrap itself around the axle of negative spin. This problem was addressed by Howard Kurtz, host of Fox News’ Media Buzz, who has taken the media to the wood shed. Referring to Harvard’s Shorenstein Center study about media negativity toward Trump, Kurtz noted that during the president’s first 100 days in office, “Some 80 percent of these stories and segments had a negative tone, 20 percent positive (beyond those that were neutral). That is bad. In fact, it’s twice as negative as the coverage of Barack Obama’s first 100 days, and much more negative than that for George W. Bush and Bill Clinton as well.”
The media, and perhaps other world leaders, can’t play this president like they did the last one. For all of his faults – his repetitive speaking style, his penchant for reacting to every provocation big or small, and particularly his Twitter habits – Trump has set a new tone in a short time.
Back on Nov. 7, the world had this guy pegged as the loser in a race with Hillary Clinton. So far this weekend, he’s been behaving like a leader.