Leo Varadkar, prime minister of Ireland, cuts a sharp contrast to President Trump. Three decades younger, openly gay and the biracial son of an Indian immigrant, he has pushed liberal policies at home and a “Global Ireland” multilateral approach abroad. Trump, on the other hand, claims “America First” as his slogan and has dubbed himself “Mr. Brexit.”
That bit, from The Washington Post, is pretty much all you need to know about Donald Trump’s press availability on Thursday with Leo Varadkar.
But Trump being Trump, the president turned the photo op into a spectacle and the media played its usual role as enabler.
We’ve mentioned this before, but we’ll go ahead and rehash it here. It’s no longer clear that Trump’s press availability is viewed by the media as an opportunity to get serious answers to questions about whatever is at the top of the news cycle on a given day.
Sure, the queries lobbed his way generally relate to current events, but sadly, the president is treated more like a circus attraction than he is a statesman. The media doesn’t expect real answers from him. They goad him and prod him in what amounts to a game of one-upmanship among reporters, who all compete to see who can extract the silliest soundbite from that “very large brain” that resides under the rusty Brillo Pad perched atop Trump’s otherwise bald skull.
Seen in that light, it probably won’t come as a surprise that Trump, donning a green tie in honor of his guest, was coaxed into saying a series of silly things on Thursday.
He was of course asked about Brexit and his answer was predictably absurd. Essentially, he said that had Theresa May just listened to him, she wouldn’t be in the situation she’s in now. Have a listen:
Obviously that’s a nebulous (read: meaningless) assessment that amounts to Trump claiming that what was needed was a better “dealmaker” (you know, someone like him), but on the surface, it actually doesn’t sound that ridiculous – at least compared to some of the president’s more egregious soundbites with regard to the UK.
Or at least it doesn’t sound that ridiculous until you recall what exactly it was that Trump told Theresa May in the course of “giving the prime minister [his] ideas on how to negotiate” Brexit.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
Here is May explaining, in a July interview with BBC’s Andrew Marr, what Trump’s advice was:
You’ve got to love how incredulous she is there – the look on her face is priceless. And the best part is, contrary to Trump’s contention that he gave “the prime minister [his] ideas on how to negotiate it”, he in fact told May she shouldn’t “negotiate it” at all. Because that’s what great dealmakers do – they sue first and talk later.
But that wasn’t the silliest thing Trump said Thursday. Rather, the “best” (where that means “the most dubious”) soundbite came when reporters asked him to weigh in on Beto’s announcement that he’ll seeking the Democratic nomination.
We’re just going to leave you with a visual juxtaposition that speaks for itself – we think you’ll agree that no further editorializing is necessary…