I’m inspired to write this post by the Fraser Nelson column in today’s Telegraph, in which he suggests (correctly in my view) that all this condemnation of President Trump is playing into his hands.
When Donald Trump first appeared on my radar, I thought him to be nothing more than a disagreeable loud mouth. The idea that he might be elected President of the US, and leader of the free world didn’t cross my mind. I’d met, and been seriously impressed by Jeb Bush, and thought him to be the ideal candidate. There were others as well. I continued to be astonished when Donald Trump was chosen by the Republican Party to be its candidate for President. “What possessed them” I thought. Must admit I assumed Hilary Clinton would be a shoe-in.
The first time I really thought the ‘impossible’ could happen was when I asked a few Americans working in the UK what they thought. They were all voting Trump. They were sensible business people. When I asked what could possible explain their totally irrational (to me) intentions they said something like “Trump will shake it up a bit. We have to kick out the self servers based in Washington.”. And when I tried to point out that a President Trump could cause mayhem across the world, they disagreed. “The US Constitution won’t let him’. He will not be able to deliver on his claims”. Must admit I wasn’t at all convinced at the time. I feel a bit more reassured now - except for the damage ‘protectionism’ may cause to the world economy.
But what to think about his tweets, often offensive and outrageous. Reality is that the President is using Twitter, and using all the ‘helpful’ journalists across the world doing just what he wants to set the agenda for debate. One man’s tweets are ensuring political debate is on the issues that help his cause. It was the same with UKIP before the 2015 General Election in the UK. Dominant coverage was of internal party strife, normally thought to be politically damaging. UKIP set the agenda through its outrageous behaviour. The BBC had Farage leading the news or as a Question Time guest every other week. The reality that most of it was ‘cobblers’ made no difference. Reasonable debate was relegated to the second division. Now what is definition of that much used term, ‘useful idiots’.
The reality is that the more outrage against the Trump tweets (understandable though it is), the more it suits President Trump’s agenda. If we could all manage to just ignore him, he would be gone in a year. If we carry on ensuring political discourse is driven by Trump tweets, he will be re-elected for a second term. The reason Donald Trump is “not so daft”is that he can see that. Welcome to the hell that is Twitter World.