Laughing at Trump provides a welcome break from worrying about his policies. But the global amusement at this latest drama is terrible for Americaby Steve Bloomfield / August 1, 2017 / Leave a comment
There have been few political events in recent years that have been truly funny, so thank you Anthony Scaramucci—or ‘the Mooch’, as you insist on referring to yourself—for providing so many in such a short space of time. Your sacking last night brought to a close the most entertaining 10 days of the normally terrifying Donald Trump presidency.
To recap on The Mooch’s short time in the role: within hours of his appointment he had forced the resignation of his press secretary, Sean Spicer. By day three, he was threatening to fire all leakers—while simultaneously leaking information himself. On day four his son was born, a moment he missed because he chose to spend the day with Trump. He sent his wife a text message saying “Congratulations. I’ll pray for our child”. He marked day seven by flaunting his communications professionalism with a long, profanity-filled rant down the line to a New Yorker journalist where he called the White House Chief of Staff a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac”, while reassuring the astonished hack that he was “not trying to suck my own cock”—unlike, he said, the president’s most important advisor, Steve Bannon. On day eight, it was reported that his wife was filing for divorce.
On day 10, he was sacked. (Technically, it wasn’t day 10—he wasn’t officially supposed to start his job until 15th August, which leaves open the possibility that the poor guy won’t even be paid.)
This, arguably, is the first moment in the Trump presidency where we’ve been able to laugh at the US president without simultaneously worrying that we’re all going to die. The TV interview where Trump described the moment he bombed Syria, while focusing mainly on the “beautiful” chocolate cake he was sharing with China’s President Xi, was ludicrous, yes—but scary. Likewise, his early morning tweetstorms about North Korea or wiretapping, healthcare or vote-rigging, are, while often amusing, also deeply disturbing. The ten days of Anthony Scaramucci, on the other hand, has been pure, unadulterated fun.
Scaramucci’s defenestration has been headline news around the world. It led the bulletin on Radio 4 this morning, while in Europe it’s on the front pages of El Pais in Spain, Italy’s La Stampa and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany. None of the coverage, it goes without saying, was complimentary: in fact much of it was written, one imagines, with barely suppressed smirks. America, your friends and allies are watching—and we’re laughing at you.
As the world laughs at the White House it, naturally, begins to respect it less. Since Donald Trump became a serious political figure, American soft power has crumbled—a process that accelerated when he actually took office and carried on behaving in exactly the same manner as before. Of the 37 nations Pew Research Center polled last month, just two—Israel and Russia—now had more confidence in the US president to “do the right thing” compared to the end of the Obama presidency. Everywhere else, support has dropped dramatically. In the UK, 79 per cent trusted Obama, while just 22 per cent feel the same way about Trump; in Spain it’s fallen from 75 per cent to 7 per cent; in Germany 86 per cent to 11 per cent; in Sweden, 93 per cent to 10 per cent. In Australia, where support has fallen from 84 per cent to 29 per cent, the country’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has even performed a Trump impression, complete with gags about Russia.
These are—or were—America’s allies. As the Trump circus rolls on to its next act, those allies are already beginning to wonder if this is a show they want to be part of. America still likes to see itself as the leader of the free world. But are you really the world’s most powerful nation if those you seek to lead are laughing at you?