ICYMI, President Trump just completed his first bigly trip overseas. The nine-day, five-country, three-holy-site, two-summit epic victory lap through the Middle East and Europe was an exercise in logistics, PR and escapism. Highlights included awkward sword dancing, spousal hand slapping and one creepy glowing orb. The trip was relatively scripted, surprisingly gaffe-free and all about promoting "America First" policies, building up the Saudi Arabian alliance and happily ignoring the American press. In short, Trump has offered a glimpse of what a more diplomatic version of himself would look like, and while Democrats remain skeptical, Republicans are cautiously hopeful about the future of the administration.
So what was different about this trip compared to other presidencies? Significantly, this trip served as a timely reminder of the White House as a Trumpian family business (note the sizeable overlap between blood relatives and policy advisers). Also, traditionally a first overseas trip is an opportunity to cement America’s closest and strongest relationships (think: Canada or Britain) instead of engaging with a more controversial ally who is behind the eight ball on human rights and religious tolerance. Finally, the president’s refusal to hold zero press conferences during this trip was unprecedented, though considering how antagonistic and unscripted his press conferences have been in the past, this might not be such a bad thing.
So was it a yuuuge success, as President Trump has touted? Well, he held substantive meetings on issues ranging from counterterrorism, trade and climate change. His swift and well-worded denunciation of the terror attack in Manchester received wide praise. He built up relationships with many countries and leaders who were concerned about US support. And he managed to throw in some campaign rhetoric about jobs, trade and terrorism for his domestic audience. All of which is cause for the White House to celebrate. However, considering the fresh scandals that have been brewing in the president’s absence (think: the Russia thing, the Trumpcare thing, and the travel ban thing) their celebration will probably be short lived.
Feel like you just want to escape it all? Movie for your mood: The Motorcycle Diaries