Trump Therapy 8.1 -- Acknowledging British Sovereignty
Well, the Trump - May press conference is over, and the talking heads have, as usual, missed the point. That point being that Donald Trump is not ready for prime time.
Not that Trump absolutely embarrassed himself -- he did manage to pass over that very low bar. But watching Theresa May and Trump side-by-side was a study in contrasting competence.
May made her extended opening remarks using nothing more than some notes, and exhibited both clarity of thought and mastery of subject matter, all within the norms of diplomatic style. Trump had to read his short, context-free statement "verbatim" more or less, moving his (tiny) index finger to keep his place. Trump's statement could have, and probably was,written before the meeting. I mean, seriously, the United States respects the sovereignty of the British people, and their right of self-determination" as if this was ever in doubt?,
Indeed, Trump's statement had more to do with repeating buzzwords that appeal to his based than about bilateral relations with Britain. The "sovereignty" statement was preceded by the clause "Together, America and the United Kingdom are a beacon for prosperity, and the rule of law" And he spoke about how "governments have to be responsive to ordinary working people",
During the question period, Trump was extremely careful. (or as Trump would put it "extremely careful. Really extremely.") He answered just four questions, calling only the sycophantic Reuters reporter, Steve Holland (the kind of reporter who retweets Sean Spicer's tweet of the bust of MLK in the Oval Office), and John Roberts from FoxNews, before shutting down the press conference, which (according to the media) is practically unheard of. (May picked out two reporters--both Brits-- as well.)
Reporters on both CNN and MSNBC pretty much ignored the larger picture, and engaged in trying to analyze the subtext of the whole thing. They ignored the fact that Trump was clearly well out of his depth, and instead treated his blathering as if it was significant to the talks themselves. They weren't -- all Trump was trying to do was avoid offending May, and while he didn't precisely adhere to diplomatic norms, he didn't create an international incident.. at least not with Britain.
*"Less" in fact. Trump provided his usual content-free aside, e.g. "By the way, my mother was born in Scotland"