A comment in an Italian newspaper’s internet site caught my attention this morning because it showed the importance of individual moments in the lives of politicians. A photo taken in a wrong instant or a slight misunderstanding due to language can follow politicians for the rest of their lives, for better or for worse. This happened to President #Donald Trump once more.
On Friday the White House hosted German Chancellor #Angela Merkel. This was always going to be a delicate encounter as the two politicians have famously diverging opinions on a number of topic, beginning with immigration.
According to the now famous stream of leaks about his first telephone conversations with #World Leaders, the call between #Donald Trump and #Angela Merkel were marked by what was called a “lesson” by the German Chancellor to the newly installed American President of his responsibilities towards refugees.
During the presidential campaign then Candidate Trump had used the German “model” as an example of the problems caused by large numbers of Moslem refugees as a justification for his proposed ban of Moslem migrants. This proposal then became two executive orders that are now blocked by the courts and will be contested in the Supreme Court.
As with many of his announcements Donald Trump’s comments about Germany were incomplete. The accusations of problems in Germany were made by certain media sources and in recent weeks the German authorities have publicly stated that the reports of sexual assaults used by opponents of Moslem migration had in fact been greatly exaggerated.
With this background the many members of the world’s press were curious to see the rapport between the two world leaders. It was obvious that there was a degree of uncertainty in both of them that led to a moment that some interpreted as a rebuff by Donald Trump of a hand shake by Angela Merkel. This was the moment that inspired the Italian journalist on the news site.
In a play of words on the phrase “Commander in chief” that is often used to describe the Office of President of the United States Vittorio Zucconi, a veteran Washington correspondent for major Italian newspaper ‘La Repubblica’ described Donald Trump as the “Cafone in chief”, effectively the “Boor in chief”
This description encapsulates the problem facing the White House regarding its occupant. Ever since the release of the tape with his comments on women and then with the subsequent comments made by the new President on a number of issues, he is not seen as “presidential” by many inside and outside the United States.
This impression has only increased with the stream of tweets and in recent weeks particularly in regards to the accusation of wiretapping of Trump Tower during the election campaign by the Obama Administration. An accusation he referred to during yesterday’s meeting with the Press Corps together with the German Chancellor.
The Italians comment simply shows that Donald Trump does have an image problem and this is confirmed by the comments of prominent Republicans this week rebutting his wiretapping allegations.
The saying is that “an old dog does not learn new tricks” may often be used to people of a certain age but it is one that Donald Trump must belie and quickly.
While his behaviour may please many of his diehard supporters the image of the President of the United States is the international face of the country and we suspect that many Americans would not be happy with the nickname coined in Italy this morning. Yet reading the international social media the voices agreeing with the Italian journalist are on the rise and fewer users defend their President, beginning in the United States. This is a real problem for the White House.