The Daily Dog: Père Macron et L’enfant Terrible

The French have always had a certain paternal curiosity with young America. As a nation, France has had a significant influence in the development of the United States and its democratic model and ideals. They have watched from afar, sometimes with disapproval, but more often with respect and admiration as l’enfant terrible has stretched and thrown tantrums through growing pains, internal conflict, the search for identity…and Donald J. Trump.

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The Apprentice meets the President in Paris. Photo: Tobias Schwarz via AFP/Getty Images.

From the United States’ flag (red, white, and blue) to our nation’s capital, French influence survives in more places and ways than most Americans imagine. Our very way of life is a direct result of America’s ancestors fighting for independence alongside French revolutionaries who helped tipped the balances against the British.

Two French citizens who fought next to colonists during the Revolutionary War left long-lasting contributions to the nation’s independence. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette — commonly known in elementary history books as General Lafayette — earned a revered position in our earliest struggles as a hero of the American Revolution.

Lafayette’s fellow compatriot, Pierre Charles L’Enfant served on George Washington’s staff at Valley Forge, and then remained in America to design the capital. As Washington’s city planner, L’Enfant’s hallmark architecture is still visible today in the lasting foundation of America’s seat of government.

Beyond individual contributions, France gifted the Statue of Liberty to the United States over 130 years ago. Since her first majestic appearance in New York Harbor, Lady Liberty has become one of the most enduring symbols of America’s freedom and equality — values almost instilled, fostered, and perpetuated with the support of French friendship for two centuries.

Just fifty years into our nation’s fledgling existence, the French diplomat and philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville embarked on a journey to study our new experiment in democracy. He memorialized his travels in his seminal work “Democracy in America.” It was with a keen eye and understanding that de Tocqueville examined the evolving socio-political reality of the United States. His work has remained a guiding light on America’s development for over one hundred years.

The French have enjoyed and endured America’s kindnesses and abuses both. They rejoiced for the liberation of their country from the hands of the Nazi’s after World War II and then suffered the invasion of Mickey Mouse in 1992. Over half of our nation’s forty-five presidents have had a proficient use of the French language and enjoyed a mutually affable relationship with the French people. Then the French tolerated George W. Bush and “freedom fries” and worse…Donald J. Trump who cannot even manage a commanding use of English, let alone a foreign language.

Despite a rocky start to continued Franco-American relations under the Trump regime, it is no surprise that President Emmanuel Macron extended an invitation to Trump to attend Bastille Day celebrations. Macron’s diplomacy and maturity demonstrate the enduring French commitment to the United States — as examples, mentors, and guardians of a truly democratic way of governance and life.

The French, the newly elected Macron, too, epitomize — even in the face of the obtuseness that arrives with an abrasive novice like Trump — the principal values and philosophies that our adolescent nation still strives daily to achieve. The French possess the temperament of a wise grand-père who can teach the most unctuous child a lesson without raising his voice. Macron will speak sagaciously and kindly to Trump’s deaf and senseless ears because it is what the French do for the benefit of all, and Macron will be all the more presidential for his efforts.

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First Lady Brigitte Macron practices defensive savate against Trump’s advances.

As Trump bumbles around Paris gawking at, objectifying, and offending Brigitte Macron as only Trump can, he embarrasses America. We cringe every time he opens his mouth, feel shame with each Tweet, and laugh nervously at his socially inept gaffes. While the French have given the United States influence and direction, they cannot — nor do they believe they can — force us to adopt all of their most endearing traits. They cannot make us like or accept Trump and they likely will not be able to make Trump understand that he must act for the nation and not himself.

The French embrace their national motto “Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité,” and exercise its principles in every aspect of life. They are an undying inspiration to America. If only we could get them to keep Trump on a permanent vacation at Disneyland Paris. Vive la revolution! Vive la France!

 

Paris Rising

With yet another grandstanding announcement like some reality TV cliffhanger promotion, Donald Trump axed the Paris Climate Accord yesterday. In withdrawing from the global treaty, the United States joins the esteemed company of Syria and Nicaragua as the three countries on the planet that refuse to give a damn about the future of all humanity.

With no consideration for America’s status as a world leader, Trump moved forward with his personal agenda while burying another hatchet in the back of his on-going vendetta against past presidents. Additionally, he hammered vehemently at another nail in the coffin of the United States’ international reputation and ensured a more dismal future for the children of every nation on the planet.

Whether it is attacking terrorism and ISIS, or working jointly to preserve the planet, global efforts command multinational cooperation. As Trump continues to remove or distance the United States from worldwide efforts — Paris, NATO, G7, Trans-Pacific — the piecemeal dismantling of diplomacy and partnership will increasingly isolate America. Beyond consequences for the United States, there will be long-term global effects as well.

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The New Trump Towers…

The decisive problem with Trump is his inability to comprehend the president’s role, the duties of the office, and the scope of government as opposed to his privately owned conglomerate. During the last four decades, Trump the businessman basked in the glory of placing his name on big buildings, big clubs, big casinos, and big failures. While amassing an empire of his own liking, Trump answered to no one. He did not have to justify his actions to voters, congress, or the leader of the free world and others.

Trump is a needy man bent on legacy and driven to create a permanent lasting impression before his mortal demise. While the presidency is an opportunity to build a legacy, it requires patience, contemplation, and cooperation among many other traits that Trump seems to lack. Instead of exercising the reason necessary to the office and building a memorable and positive record of his own, Trump continues to tear down and erode what he did not build. He is a petty jealous man whose big buildings do not represent his littleness.

Each of Trump’s unspoken goals in Washington, D.C. appears to be geared toward buying another great big building and slapping his name on it — the White House, the Supreme Court, the Capitol. It is Trump’s self-gratification of his ego to acquire, name, and then sit back and hope against bankruptcy. What Trump fails to understand, is that to leave a legacy, you must build it. Destroying what others accomplished does not earn posthumous accolades.

Furthermore, for a man like Donald Trump, every undertaking is a challenge; a competition to show up his peers and rivals alike. He has to win, even when he does not win. His is a stereotype that every person has experienced at some point — most likely with the spoiled bully on the elementary school playground. Trump’s selfish governance is not even a “my way or the highway” drill sergeant, because at least the drill sergeant has a common goal with his troops. Since January, Trump has shown no common goal with Americans. He pursues Trump’s goals only.

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…and the new Red White & Blue?

Trump competed with Manhattan real estate moguls through the 1980s. He chased the likes of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. He thought he was more popular than Hillary Clinton was. Now, he is in a semi-delirious race with Vladimir Putin. What Trump is trying to win with his presidency no one knows, but as Trump plays dangerously with the nation’s people, economy, and reputation, it certainly is not the betterment of America. Trump had an opportunity, but has already lost the title of leader of the free world. Emmanuel Macron now holds the title as the rational voice of France and the world, concerned with the people of his country and inhabitants of earth alike.

Trump is losing little by little, and with each loss, America slips deeper into the black hole of his egotistical game. When he is gone, the individual mothers, fathers, workers, and true leaders will remain to claw a way out of one man’s failed legacy and lift the country again. By then, Make America Great Again will be a job for everyone, instead of a slogan for one.