Consultations between current presidents and their predecessors used to be routine. In 1962, at the height of our cold war with the Soviet Union, then-President John F. Kennedy got his predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, on the phone to discuss the situation. When Barack Obama faced a humanitarian crisis after an earthquake hit Haiti, he called on Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to step in.
But Donald Trump is another story. European diplomats who have dealt extensively with Trump say that his foreign policy is chiefly driven by an obsession with unravelling Barack Obama’s policies. Said one diplomat:
It’s his only real position. He will ask: “Did Obama approve this?” And if the answer is affirmative, he will say, “We don’t.” He won’t even want to listen to the arguments or have a debate. He is obsessed with Obama.
This also explains Trump’s singular focus on getting rid of Obamacare.
BuzzFeed News reports that according to these European officials, Trump is inappropriate in international meetings, openly mocking his aides and making off-color jokes, and always jockeying for position—Trump uses power dynamics to establish himself in any meeting. Our allies find his instability and unpredictability dangerous—and this was even before he started saber-rattling with North Korea.
European officials also mock him with great regularity. One group of diplomats plays a version of word bingo of Trump’s most-repeated adjectives anytime he gives a speech, taking advantage of his extraordinarily limited vocabulary. “Everything is ‘great’, ‘very, very great’, ‘amazing’,” the diplomat said.
But back to Obama. CNN reports that this week, as Pyongyang issued threats to launch missiles at Guam, Trump was busy retweeting a series of messages that criticized Obama, including an unscientific Twitter poll that had been inactive for days. He also retweeted two messages on Wednesday evening, one from a Fox News show and another from John Bolton, a former ambassador to the United Nations—both of which knocked Obama.
Who is a better President of the United States? #ObamaDay
— ProgressPolls (@ProgressPolls) August 4, 2017
— The Five (@TheFive) August 10, 2017
Our country & civilians are vulnerable today because @BarackObama did not believe in national missile defense. Let’s never forget that.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) August 9, 2017
Speaking from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Thursday, Trump maligned Obama’s stance on North Korea, suggesting Obama had ignored an issue that he is intent on confronting.
“You look what happened with Obama. Obama—he didn’t even want to talk about it. But I talk,” Trump said on the steps of his clubhouse. “It’s about time. Somebody has to do it. Somebody has to do it.”
Much of Trump’s initial governing agenda has focused on reversing Obama’s legacy, either on climate change or trade or diplomatic relations with Cuba. It seems Trump’s whole focus is WWOD—What Would Obama Do?—and then do the opposite.
What do you think?
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