President Trump apparently thought it was acceptable to disrespect his guest’s beliefs by calling them “insane” and “ridiculous” in front of the press in the Oval Office. That guest is French President Emmanuel Macron and the belief Trump was disrespecting was Macron’s support for continuing the Iran nuclear deal. That deal, begun during the Obama administration, has the support of France, Germany, the U.K., Russia, and many other countries, but Trump thinks it’s a bad deal and sees fit to steamroll over everyone else’s well-founded beliefs to the contrary. Of course, by making such hyperbolic statements as saying the deal is “insane” and “ridiculous”, the negotiating process is gravely harmed, but Trump doesn’t care, since he is too impulsive to rein in his stream of consciousness blather. According to CNN:
President Donald Trump railed against the Iran nuclear deal Tuesday, calling the Obama administration-negotiated deal as “insane” and “ridiculous” while seated next to French President Emmanuel Macron in the Oval Office. The outburst proved that a dinner of Dover sole and a glitzy military welcome could not paper over the two leaders’ differences as they begin intensive talks on Iran and Syria. Trump offered scant assurances to Macron that he was reconsidering his pledge to exit the agreement. “People know my views on the Iran deal,” Trump said. “It was a terrible teal. It should have never been made.” …Trump has threatened to pull out of the Iran deal and snap back US sanctions on Iran by May 12 unless major changes are made to the agreement brokered by the previous US administration, which capped Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. France, Germany and the United Kingdom — key signatories to the deal — are in the midst of negotiations with the US aimed at assuaging some of Trump’s concerns, but large gaps still remain.
Before this divisive hyperbole from Trump, the Macrons and the Trumps last evening had been to George Washington’s Mount Vernon for dinner, which included fish and asparagus. One wonders if perhaps Trump would have been in better spirits if he had been allowed one (or more) of his favorite cheeseburgers instead of fish and (the horror!) vegetables. Formal dinners also tend to have modest portions, so one imagines Trump polishing off his own dinner, then eating off of Melania’s plate without even asking.
What Trump said about the Iran deal, per CNN, is “It’s insane, it’s ridiculous, it should have never been made. But we’ll be talking about it.” Only Trump could think such a statement actually makes sense when said together. Clearly he will not really be talking about it in any way in which he might listen enough to opposing opinions to actually change his own beliefs – calling the deal “insane” and “ridiculous” precludes that possibility.
Poor President Macron, saddled with Trump for the first formal state visit of the Trump presidency. Macron does a reasonably good job of playing Trump by serving up the insincere flattery that is a prerequisite to be in Trump’s good graces. Another benefit for Macron is that he unlike German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was elected after President Obama was no longer in office and so had not developed a relationship with the Obamas. Trump disliked anyone who has a positive relationship with President Obama, so Macron is like a blank slate for him. Macron would like to convince Trump to stay in the Iran deal, stay in Syria, and rejoin the Paris climate accords, which is a very tall order, since Trump tends not to listen to others. Trump also tends to change his mind a lot, so he may actually give the impression that Macron has gotten him to shift his position, only to change his mind and revert to his previous obstinance.
Trump is unbelievably bad at diplomacy. Any normal person would know that you don’t start off negotiations by calling the other person’s position “insane” and “ridiculous” – that only serves to alienate the other person. Trump keeps alienating our allies left and right, through his bullying stance on diplomacy, through his outdated protectionist trade policies, through his willful ignorance regarding climate change, through his personality that is, frankly, abusive. 2020 just cannot get here soon enough.