In yet another indication that world relations with the United States are chilling, newly elected Taoiseach Leo Varadkar gave Donald Trump the cold shoulder on Tuesday. Varadkar, the youngest Prime Minister of Ireland — and gay son of an Indian immigrant — ascended to Ireland’s highest post two weeks ago after the retirement of Enda Kenney.
When Trump phoned Varadkar on Tuesday afternoon to congratulate the new Prime Minister, the Irish government left Trump on hold for more than 90 seconds. Irish press gathered in the Oval Office for the scheduled event began clicking away while Trump fidgeted with papers and huffed, waiting until his young colleague finally answered the call.
Taoiseach Varadkar is not a fan of The Apprentice President and prior to his election said that he would not invite Trump to Ireland for a state visit. “I’m not sure what purpose it would serve,” Varadkar said during a February interview. Given Trump’s dismal record on LGBTQ rights, and President Barack Obama’s highly successful 2011 visit, Varadkar speculated that Trump would not be as welcomed by the Irish people.
The Howard Beale Award
In the most stunningly appropriate display of “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” in the modern era, we offer our kudos to reporter Brian Karem for standing up to the Trump White House today. During a mid-day press briefing in which Deputy Propaganda Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the press “dishonest,” Karem dished it right back.
In a heated exchange, Karem had the final word, telling Sanders, “You have been elected to serve for four years at least. There is no option other than that. We’re here to ask you questions. You’re here to provide the answers. And what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say, ‘See, once again, the president is right and everybody else out here is fake media.’ And everybody out here is only trying to do their job.”
Sanders was dismissive, but Karem’s moment in the spotlight comes following the White House’s particularly abusive treatment of the press and First Amendment. Many members of the press corps have been frustrated by the administration’s efforts to hold no-camera/no-video pressers and the lack of answers coming from press conferences.
After Karem’s mildly explosive outburst, Twitter came alive Tuesday afternoon in support of the correspondent from Playboy. For his extraordinarily heroic resistance in the face of the new totalitarian regime in the White House, Karem has earned our appreciation and admiration. Now, if only the rest of the press could muster the same passion for the constitution.
Trump’s painful wait came on a day when the Pew Research Center released a study comparing Trump’s world approval ratings to President Obama’s. The 37 country public study indicated that in the first six months of the Trump administration, world confidence in American leadership has plummeted. Less than one-quarter of respondents believe that Trump will do the right thing for international politics.
At the end of President Obama’s term in office, that number was nearly three times as high at 64 percent. The United States’ favorable nation rating fell during the same period from 64 percent to 49. Trump’s steepest declines came in northern European countries like Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands. Additionally, for the first time in 35 years, Canadians have a negative view of the United States.
Fittingly, two nations currently have a higher opinion of Trump than they did of Obama — Russia and Israel. Despite his approval ratings in Russia, among major world leaders, the Pew study data still ranked Trump last, below Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping. Moreover, the three words most used by over 40,000 foreigners to describe Trump are “arrogant,” “ignorant,” and “dangerous.”
During the call with Taoiseach Varadkar, Trump demonstrated how arrogant and ignorant he is by bragging that he knew all of the Irish people in America. He then invited Varadkar to attend a traditional White House St. Patrick’s Day celebration in 2018. In telling fashion, neither the Taoiseach nor Trump tweeted about the call.
Trump will continue to face an image crisis until he learns the essential presidential skills of diplomacy, respect, and humility. His gauche mannerisms and stereotypical “Red Hat” American treatment of anyone foreign continue to add to the general mistrust — at home and abroad.
When he is persistently insulting Muslim mayors and mocking Latin leaders, it is easy to see why the world sees Trump as a dangerous person…the Dalai Lama once suggested that lack of respect is more of a threat than guns or bombs.