Don't worry, you're supposed to find Trump offensive
It was one of those impromptu coffee break discussions. Someone had brought in birthday cake and the subject turned to Donald Trump’s latest outrage. The connection escapes me for the moment.
Anyway, looking back, I probably got a bit loud (and the expletive didn't help either) as I explained that it's OK to get incensed at the guy. In fact it's is an essential part of the deal.
Trump has traded for years on being in-your-face and uncompromisingly direct. It won him the presidency and it’s still working for him in the Oval Office.
For as much as clever sections of US media describe his term of office as a ‘temporary lapse of American leadership’ or portray him as one step away from an attention-seeking buffoon, what is indisputable is that has by-passed these lofty opinion-formers through a global social media audience of 44 million followers.
He elucidates on most subjects using emphatic bar-room vernacular that conveys a mildly offensive assumption on his part that we share his inability to grasp all the subtle complexities.
Yet it would be an error to think that Trump is stupid. Stupid is as stupid does and while the past may be remorselessly catching up on him in several ways, he knows how to pick his fights and how to exploit the fluid nature of fake news.
My cake-scoffing associates reckoned he’d crossed a line by retweeting edited islamophobic video footage put up by neo-fascists. I personally thought he’d already shown his true colours (so to speak) by refusing to condemn white supremacist thugs in Charlottesville.
Being a cynical old bar-steward, I also felt his absurd posturing at home and abroad was political smoke aimed at masking how a president who promised sweeping social and economic domestic reforms hadn’t passed a major piece of legislation for the eight months since inauguration.
He finally got lucky with his new tax bill, passed in the Senate last week by 51 to 49 votes, but at the expense of a vastly increased budget deficit and with no guarantee big business will pass on a fraction of the largesse in added investment.
I suppose one thing you can say about Trump – although I’m sure it was never his intention - is that he’s highlighted how occupying the White House nowadays means being office as opposed to being in charge.
Replacing insight with invective has served him thus far but it can't last - or can it?
The other issue under debate was whether Trump should be afforded a UK state visit. Opinion was divided with some wanting him banned and others darkly muttering, “Bring it on”.
The first action of any newly-established Prime Minister is to prove your foreign statecraft credentials and a White House visit is de rigueur. So, it must have seemed like perfect timing for Theresa May to go and do a spot of handholding to lighten the post-Brexit gloom.
Of course, her premature offer of an all-in state visit to Trump is simply an early example of the appalling poor judgement for which the lady is now well known.
I mean, how you can think it would buy you a decent trade deal with someone who clearly regards the presidency along the lines of a cheap weekend van-hire is beyond me.
Officially, “no date has been set” for a visit but I’ll just flag up that US magazine ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ is citing 26-27 February next year.
Could be interesting.