A wise man who wants to see things get much better rapidly

Amy Davidson at the New Yorker tells us how Trump lectured the democratic heads of state at NATO on how awesome the Saudi king is.

He had just come from Saudi Arabia, Trump told the nato leaders, in a brief speech. “There, I spent much time with King Salman, a wise man who wants to see things get much better rapidly.” That meeting had been “historic,” Trump said. The “leaders of the Middle East” had promised him that they would “stop funding the radical ideology that leads to this horrible terrorism all over the globe.” So that should take care of the problem. He did not define “radical ideology,” or acknowledge that he was praising a monarch in what seemed to be an attempt to put the assembled elected leaders of democracies to shame. Trump’s world view seems to combine a distaste for Islam with a predilection for monarchs of any background—for anyone with a decent palace, really.

Even an Islamist monarch, even an Islamist monarch of the family and regime and sect that has been assiduously funding “radical ideology” all over the planet, including the US.

European leaders were reportedly hoping for an affirmation of Article 5 in Trump’s remarks; they didn’t get it. In general, the approach of his hosts on this trip seems to have been to hope very much that he doesn’t actually break anything. Remarks have been kept short, flattery long—a reminder, as with the international and unmerited fêting of Ivanka, of how Trumpism lowers the level of dialogue all around. Trump does like it when people give gifts (though he may not have appreciated it when Pope Francis, at the Vatican, handed him a copy of his encyclical on climate change), and so he thanked the 9/11 Museum, in New York, which had donated the girders, and Merkel, as a representative of Germany, for donating the slabs. He spoke a few sentences about the memorials’ symbolic power. But, as he looked around at the new headquarters, he seemed, again, to be dwelling on a different definition of a value.

“And I never asked once what the new NATO headquarters cost,” he said, as if he should be thanked for that act of restraint. “I refuse to do that. But it is beautiful.”

Even though it doesn’t have the name TRUMP plastered all over it.

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