Donald Trump is making his first foreign trip as president, but he’s not looking forward to it. Neither, it turns out, are his overseas hosts.
Donald Trump will embark on his first foreign trip as president, and by all appearances, no one is especially pleased with his travel plans. The New York Times reported this week, for example, that the president himself “has expressed dread about the trip, ” and asked White House aides to shrink the time abroad from nine days to five. The same report added that Trump’s aides aren’ t looking forward to this, either: the president’s intense schedule “could produce unscripted, diplomatically perilous moments.” And then, of course, there are Trump’s foreign hosts. The New York Times reports today that leaders abroad are “trying to figure out the best way to approach an American president unlike any they have known.” They’ ve come up with a few ideas.
After four months of interactions between Mr. Trump and his counterparts, foreign officials and their Washington consultants say certain rules have emerged: Keep it short – no 30-minute monologue for a 30-second attention span. Do not assume he knows the history of the country or its major points of contention. Compliment him on his Electoral College victory. Contrast him favorably with President Barack Obama. Do not get hung up on whatever was said during the campaign. Stay in regular touch. Do not go in with a shopping list but bring some sort of deal he can call a victory.
A related report from the Associated Press noted, “At NATO and the Group of 7 summits, foreign delegations have gotten word that the new U. S. president prefers short presentations and lots of visual aids.” The piece added that Trump’s aides have been careful to “build daily downtime” into his schedule. This comes on the heels of a report from Foreign Policy magazine on our NATO allies “scrambling” to tailor their upcoming meeting “to avoid taxing President Donald Trump’s notoriously short attention span.” A source briefed extensively on the meeting’s preparations explained, “It’s kind of ridiculous how they are preparing to deal with Trump. It’s like they’ re preparing to deal with a child – someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing…. They’ re freaking out.” In his interview with Time magazine last week, Trump said, “I think we have to be a strong nation. I think we were being laughed at by the world. They’ re not laughing anymore.” Oh how I wish that were true. Postscript: Regina Schrambling joked, “ [I] wonder how many copies of the Electoral College map he’s packing.” It’s a scary thought, isn’ t it?