Desperation and shame: Theresa May and the Liar in Chief

So now we know, the details of Donald Trump’s much derided State Visit to the UK are being ‘finalised’ for later in 2018. This after Trump and May had a short meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, at which Trump declared the US and UK to be ‘joined at the hip’.

We also now know that Trump tried to fire the Special Counsel – Robert Mueller – investigating Russia’s alleged involvement with the Trump campaign, and possible obstruction of justice in trying to stop this investigation (for example, by firing the Director of the FBI, James Comey).

And we also know – thanks to the ongoing work of the Wall Street Journal – that Trump made patently false or misleading claims over 2000 – two thousand – times in his first year in office. That works out at an average of over 5 a day!!! That tally has been added to on a daily basis since (including lying on camera about the nature of the US Green Card scheme in an effort to support his wild, ill-informed and racist claims about ‘illegal’ immigrants to the US). In so doing, Trump confirms the widely noted observation of many US commentators that he’s a pathological liar as well as an egotistical, racist, sexist, arch hypocrite.

Finally, we’ve known for some time that Trump has admitted to sexually assaulting women (witness the Access Hollywood tape), that he allegedly had a sexual relationship with a porn star while married to his current wife, and that multiple women have come forward and alleged that Trump assaulted them.

And so we come to our Prime Minister and the sight of her pontificating on the Presidents Club affair and denouncing sexism shortly after meeting the most high profile example of such behaviour currently at large on the planet. This would be ironic if it weren’t so sick making and shameful.

We all remember how this ‘love in’ began, of course. A desperate dash to visit Trump by May not long after his inauguration. And while many of us found May’s behaviour toward Trump demeaning and not befitting of the leader of a supposedly proud nation, her behaviour could be excused to some extent. First, many of us remember the equally cringe-worthy meetings between the previous Republican President – George W. Bush – and Tony Blair, and so on some level at least May was simply following in Blair’s footsteps. Second, there was the obvious desperation on May’s part for any indication of a post Brexit trade deal.

But that was then and this is now. Then the true nature of Trump was seldom recognised outside the US – and even then, it was not taken seriously by many US commentators. Now we know that in addition to the character traits noted above he harbours deeply autocratic tendencies and has obvious totalitarian sympathies – witness his attacks on what he constantly refers to as the ‘fake’ media, while feeding off and supporting actual examples of such practices.

He has presided over the precipitous fall in the standing of the US on the international stage – an occurrence that will turn out to be calamitous for many in the event of an international crisis, such as another Syria or economic downturn – and a situtation that may not be retrievable, thereby placing the authoritarian/totalitarian states of China and Russia in the acendancy in a new world-order.

He has enabled or personally delivered a set of pro-big business, pro-rich, anti-environmental, socially inflammatory policies, is intent on destroying Obamacare (and much else that the previous holder of his office put in place) without much, if any, concern with what will replace it – despite repeated promises during the election campaign to ‘repeal and replace’ with something even better.

And, in the space of a year, he has trashed most of the accepted norms and conventions of the office of the President of the United States, thus diminishing that role and office significantly.

Trump’s work is not done yet, of course – not by a long chalk. I have little doubt that the Mueller investigation will find that he (and others) attempted to obstruct justice in the context of the Russia investigation. And that there was a relationship between Russia and the Trump campaign. Additionally, based on what we know of Trump and his family’s business dealing prior to the Presidency I also have little doubt that the Mueller investigation will throw up numerous examples of dubious, and very likely borderline illegal, activities. Given his vanity and overall character, at that point Trump will do what he has been preparing to do ever since he realised that he couldn’t make the Mueller investigation disappear – invoke a constitutional crisis in the US by counter charging that everything levelled at him is the work of the ‘deep state’, the ‘fake news’ and its owners, and a corrupted FBI. And then he’ll refuse to conform to or obey any pressure for him to step down.  Meanwhile, on the evidence so far, Republicans in the House and Senate will simply sit on their hands – or, as is the case for many of them now, become willing cheerleaders in his defence.

That this series of events are likely to occur before or near to Trump’s state visit will undoubtedly create a challenging situation for Theresa May and the UK government. But May has already shown that when it comes to Trump nothing he says, does, or doesn’t do is beyond anything except the mildest of criticism. The primary reason for this shameful, unstatesmanlike, cowardice I set out at the beginning of this blog – Brexit (a secondary reason, amongst several, is May’s own character). And as we awoke this morning to hear that a spokesperson for May had once again slapped down the Chancellor for his comments on a soft Brexit – confirming once again that the UK will be outside both the single market and customs union – many of us know why. The stench of desperation that will rise as 2018 progresses and the sheer scale and scope of the impending disaster of Brexit becomes ever clearer. And May and her Brexit obsessed government will have nowhere to go apart from into the lap of the Liar in Chief.

They are ideal bedfellows, of course: one is intent on trashing much that made America great, while the other is intent on trashing a once great UK. Whether the mass protests that accompany Trump’s UK visit, or those that arise in the US following his actions after the Mueller investigation concludes, are enough to change the course of this disasterous path into history is an open question. Nevertheless, I suspect many millions of us who believe in democracy, the rule of law, and that there are moral and ethical grounds beyond which nobody should go, will make our voices heard later this year.

Comments

  1. Sean Danaher -

    Ivan
    thanks.

    June 26 1963. Corner of Drumcondra Road and Griffith Avenue. I had spent the past few weeks perfecting “The Boys of Wexford” on my Melodica just in case the important visitor stopped. I was at the front of a large crowd. And there he was, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy standing up in an open top car waving to the crowd sweeping past in his motorcade. To this day he is the only US president I have seen in the flesh. It is probably true to say that the status of the US in Ireland was at a zenith on that day.

    This is also the 50’th anniversary of the Northern Ireland Civil rights movement. There was so much admiration for Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

    Wind forward to the Carter presidency when I was doing my PhD at the Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, the shine was a bit more tarnished but the USA was still in my eyes the greatest country on earth. We dreaded Regan being elected.

    I don’t believe in daemons but it almost seems that they are at work in the US. How has it come to this?

    1. Ivan Horrocks -

      You are lucky in that respect, Sean, that’s something I’d love to have experienced. Mind you, Kennedy wasn’t perfect, nor his father for that matter, but a beacon of light and hope compared to Trump and indeed politicians in general these days. You must have enjoyed Harvard too. A contrast to Nottingham Trent, which is where I started my PhD.

      1. Sean Danaher -

        Harvard was great, especially as I was based in Arizona. It was a bit intimidating at first as many of the scientists there were world class, but they were universally helpful, any criticism was always positive rather than negative. Towards the end of my time there of course the was threat of that clown Ronald Regan getting elected. Of course Trump is far worse than Regan, but many of the same neoliberal lies were from the same playbook. Regan walked all over you in slippers, Trump does so in hobnail boots.

        The overwhelming majority of American research scientists vote Democrat. It is jokingly said 93% vote democrat and nobody can figure out why the percentage is so small!

  2. Peter May -

    “How has it come to this?”
    In a word – corruption. The US has, in my view, been highly corrupt for years. The UK under the Tories is trying to emulate it.

    And now it seems it’s up to Piers Morgan, no less, to do something the PM has been unable to do IE extract an apology for tweeting with approval some racist UK video and telling the PM if I remember correctly, to sort out our Muslim terrorists …

  3. Ivan Horrocks -

    Yes, an interesting observation about Piers Morgan and the ‘apology’, Peter. My view would be that May simply didn’t push very hard: she is simply too cowed and too cowardly to demand such a thing. Note though, that Trump only apologised for the fact the videos came from ‘Britain First’, not that they were racist. Add to that that he lies about just about everything – as policy makers on both sides of the isle in Washington have now found out – and I’d say that pretty much anything this disgusting example of a human being says is worth less than a pinch of salt (and that’s probably insulting salt, to be honest).

  4. Andrew -

    Trump did not apologise for his retweets. He took no responsibility for them at all. (After all, it was only a retweet … but the Russians have said they see these as official statements of US policy).

    He said he knew nothing about the people. He didn’t even accept that the videos are fake. What he did say was “If you are telling me they’re horrible people, horrible racist people, I would certainly apologise if you’d like me to do that.” *If* … *would* … *if*.

    An actual apology would sound like “I was wrong” or “I am sorry” or “I apologise”.

    If the Mueller inquiry finds wrongdoing by anyone close to Trump, I doubt he would have many qualms about reaching for the Presidential pardon.

    Brian Klass gave a recent talk at the LSE about his book “The Despot’s Apprentice” and the dangers Trump poses for democracy in the US and elsewhere. There is a podcast. In short, Trump sows distrust but also utters patent lies without apology; he erodes the rule of law and supports authoritarian regimes overseas; he appoints members of his family to public office. Fortunately he has flaws: just imagine how bad it would be if he was more effective. See http://www.lse.ac.uk/Events/2018/01/20180124t1830vOT/the-despots-apprentice

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