On Tuesday, President Trump made his first trip to Turtle Bay to address the United Nations General Assembly, a traditional invitation extended to heads of state and government for the body’s 186 member nations.
Diplomatic it was not, to put it mildly. Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, and cartoonishly referred to dictator Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man.” He proclaimed that entire parts of the world were “going to hell.” His hitlist of bellicose shout-outs also included the dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, and the government of Iran over its nuclear program.
Throughout the speech, it appears Trump went off-script, if the reaction of Chief of Staff John Kelly was any indication. Kelly-watching during Trump speeches has become a political spectator sport, as his visible frustration and dismay is increasingly hard to miss.
Trump remains entirely predictable
For all the hysteria, however, there is no real reason to have ever expected anything else from Trump. Like his previous trip to the NATO Summit, there is nothing inscrutable or erratic about his behavior. He is, instead, one of the most transparently predictable people on the planet.
Bravado, grandiose threats, and little grasp of the details is the same Trump we’ve already come to know and expect. Acting “presidential,” for better and for worse, is not something he seems capable of. Restraint, nuance, and the careful phrasing and word choices inherent in international diplomacy, are all far outside of his skill-set.
The question is no longer whether or not Trump will make a fool of himself and the United States on the world stage.
Of course he will, and of course will continue to do so as long as he sits in the Oval Office. The question is rather how long the United States will tolerate it. With support for impeachment at a historical all-time high, for any president, it’s always possible that Trump won’t complete his term.
But until that happens, there is little to do but look on with dismay.
(Photo of President Donald Trump addressing the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, September 19, 2017 in New York City by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)