Perhaps I’m beginning to lose my mind, but President Donald Trump is looking more and more like Ronald Reagan — without the Teflon.
After bombing Syria and Afghanistan, the Trump administration has turned its attention to North Korea and threatened to spank its leadership following a supposed show of force last week… in which the North Koreans couldn’t even muster a missile launch.
A missile system desperately in need of Viagra isn’t much of a threat to the U.S. Last week, Sean Spicer said as much when said that a country which makes a threat it can’t carry out doesn’t constitute much of a threat. Now, however, Spicer and his boss think differently. Watching your poll numbers rise for the first time — after bombing brown people’s airports and mountainside tunnel systems — can be very persuasive.
Now, according to Spicer, North Korea is “definitely a threat,” and anyone who doesn’t see it that way just doesn’t understand anything as simple as the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow…African or European.
The flip came after a small spike in the popularity polls for the president after he launched 59 cruise missiles on a Syrian airport and then dropped the MOAB on a mountain range in Afghanistan which is supposedly honeycombed with terrorist tunnels.
The manic actions played out over several days, but came to a head in the East Room this week when Trump welcomed the Prime Minister of Italy during a joint news conference.
It began with the president telling the world he was very good friends with Luciano Pavarotti — which confused those of us who knew the man died 10 years ago but we let that one pass. (Though an Italian reporter sitting next to me asked if our president was intentionally insulting us.)
“Intentionally?” I responded. “No.”
John Roberts of Fox News, getting the first question, gave Trump a hand by putting the Italian Prime Minster on the spot: “President Trump would like to see all NATO members contribute two percent of their GDP to NATO… will you commit?”
Trump responded with a Cheshire grin.
“I love the question you asked the Prime Minister,” the president said.
“I’ll bet he did,” my new Italian friend sitting next to me whispered. “Are all of your media questions so controlled?”
Toward the end of the public meeting the Prime Minister said, “We need a stable and unified Libya. A divided country and in conflict would make stability worse. The U.S. role in this is very critical.”
President Trump didn’t miss a beat.
“I do not see a role in Libya. I think the United States has right now enough roles. We’re in a role everywhere,” he said — apparently forgetting that part of our role has been destabilizing Libya when Khadafi was alive.
But he changed courses just a few sentences later, as he talked about how committed we must be in destroying ISIS.
“We have no choice,” he said, adding we’d do so whether it’s in…“Iraq or Libya or anywhere else.”
The Prime Minister looked as confused as I was.
“That was on purpose,” my new Italian friend said.
I looked at him. “I don’t know man. Life in the fast lane surely makes you lose your mind.”
The Italian grinned. “The Dude doesn’t like the Eagles,” was all he said.
I guess Big Lebowski fans can be found worldwide.
Confused reporters lined up later seeking a clarification from Spicer. He has promised to provide one.
For those who don’t remember the Ronald Reagan administration, the Trump administration looks a lot like the worst of those years. The management style is similar. Therefore, so are the misstatements. Reagan once called ketchup a vegetable and said that, once launched, a Trident nuclear missile could be recalled. He called the elderly on Medicaid “a faceless mass waiting for handouts,” and implied that the homeless were homeless by choice. He also said German SS officers were “victims” of World War II as “surely as victims of the concentration camps.”
International relations were also a minefield for that administration. Reagan, after a tense meeting with the Lebanese Foreign Minister who was trying to explain the intricacies of Lebanese politics, told the foreign minister, “You know, your nose looks just like Danny Thomas.”
Reagan, like Trump had an acting background. But Reagan was from Hollywood’s glamour years and starred in such theatrical treasures as Bedtime for Bonzo instead of a television show with the catchphrase “You’re fired.”
Working with Bonzo the chimpanzee taught Reagan well. He was much smoother than Trump. But the essence is the same.
At the risk of angering the Dudists everywhere, I still have a peaceful easy feeling and know Trump can’t let me down – I’m already standing on the ground.