Friday, July 7, 2017

Trump's Polish Speech Summarized

As presidential speeches go, Trump’s address in Warsaw was fair. Ish. If you forget who is speaking and what that person has been saying and doing since Inauguration Day—since the opening of his campaign in 2015—and really through his career.

But if you remember those things, the speech jolted you to attention again and again.


[T]he most troubling thing about the speech was the falsehood at its core; the problem is not with the speech, but with the speaker.


A president who has made lewd remarks about assaulting women said, “We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success.” A president who won’t read his briefing books declared, "We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves.” A president who once seemed unsure whether the abolitionist Frederick Douglass is alive or dead congratulated himself: “We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs.” A president whose brand is notorious worldwide for gaudy hideousness preened: “We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art.”


In Poland, President Trump at last delivered the pledge he omitted from his speech at Brussels’s NATO headquarters. “To those who would criticize our tough stance, I would point out that the United States has demonstrated not merely with words but with its actions that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defense commitment.” But who now will be reassured by these glib words? The whole world has seen how long and how fiercely President Trump squirmed to avoid pronouncing them—and the world, friendly and hostile, will draw conclusions accordingly. As President Trump rightly noted, “Words are easy, but actions are what matters.”

  The Atlantic
Indeed. However, I must quibble: words are easy for Trump because he only uses easy words.
A less obtuse president might notice something amiss in [his] comparing the challenges of the wealthy and powerful nations of the West today to the desperate and doomed struggle of the Polish Home Army. The phrase “the blood of patriots” does not belong in the mouth of a president who “likes people who don’t get captured” and demeans the sacrifice of a family that lost its son in the service of the United States.

Bad taste aside though, it’s even stranger to hear Donald Trump speak of “our own fight for the West.” If his foreign policy has had one theme since January 2017, it has precisely been to smash the unity of the Western alliance. The spinal column of the Western alliance is the U.S.-Germany relationship, and Trump has undermined it since Day One.


If “the West” exists as more than a figure of speech, it exists because Western countries share intelligence against threats—sharing that Trump sabotaged by his reckless false accusations that Britain wiretapped him. It exists because we trade freely with each other—trade that Trump has denounced over and over as “unfair” and “very bad.” It exists because of the military alliances that Trump has condemned as obsolete and because of shared ideals of democracy and freedom as opposed to the thugs and dictators Trump admires.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

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