|Unga bunga…build the wall…it’s all the same.|
A few days ago–before the US government shutdown became inevitable at least–Donald Trump was announced as an attendee at the annual Davos shindig of global movers and shakers. Obviously, the leader of the world’s wealthiest country hobnobbing with the elites of this world makes sense. However, once you factor in the attitudes and behaviors of Trump, things become rather more interesting. What exactly do Trump and Malala Yousafzai have in common…except that he’d want to ban the Muslim woman from America like all the rest?
In most ways, Trump espouses views opposite of the cosmopolitan (the proper Bannonite-Trumpist insult is “globalist”) Davos crowd: Trump is parochial instead of global in his outlook on politics and economics as well as bigoted instead of multiracial in terms of cultural disposition. His social attitudes are, of course, also decidedly prehistoric in championing white, male supremacy on a regular basis. If you grew up watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons, you will know exactly what I mean when I say Trump is Captain Caveman to the regular Davos attendees who are–or at least claim to be–more progressive like the futuristic Jetsons.
So this is the setup we have for Trump attending Davos–or at least until the government shutdown put some uncertainty as to his attendance:
Donald Trump was set to be the first U.S. president to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in nearly two decades, but the government shutdown might have scrambled those plans. White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney said Saturday that Trump’s plans to travel to Davos next week are up in the air while Congress scrambles to strike a deal to fund the federal government.”We’re taking Davos, from the president’s perspective and the Cabinet’s perspective, on a day-by-day basis,” Mulvaney told reporters during an impromptu briefing.
With a theme of “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” [this is too funny for an event Trump will attend], this year’s event would certainly generate considerably more interest from the attendance of the person doing more than his fair share of the fracturing by withdrawing from or threatening to withdraw from any number of trade arrangements; denying the shared menace of climate change; proposing to wall off the United States from foreigners; and generally withdrawing his country from institutions of global governance.
Old school European internationalists are also set to attend to counteract Trumpism. I believe that this part is the interesting one since Trump’s absence would given them sole voice, albeit at an event that US audiences usually ignore:
European leaders will be out in force at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week to defend multilateralism before U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to deliver his “America First” message…
The charge will be led by French President Emmanuel Macron, the new star of European politics, who in an audacious move, has invited many of the business leaders who will be in Davos to the Palace of Versailles on Monday to press them to invest in France.
When he speaks in Davos on Wednesday, the former investment banker will offer his own “diagnosis” of globalization and set out a vision for addressing widening inequalities, global warming and the rise of nationalism, his advisers say. “I don’t think Macron will be able to resist being the counter-Trump,” said Robin Niblett, director of the Chatham House think tank in London. Macron will be joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, returning to the world stage after months of political limbo at home
In years past, the French have often been those critical of global economic elites. Neoliberalism and all that jazz. With Trump and Macron–a former investment banker, mind you–the United States and France appear to have switched places with the former now led by a self-styled protectionist and the latter by an unabashed internationalist.
Times change. While Trump likes the opportunity presented here to poke a finger in the eye of the so-called globalists as he is wont, it may yet backfire: his prehistoric views may further alienate very influential people around the world just as the United States’ international reputation is in the dumpster thanks to him. Showcasing ignorance proudly is Trump in excelsis. Then again, being “America First” is a play to domestic audiences first and foremost, so even if he offends his hosts and their progressive sensibilities, it may not matter to Trump for as long as it plays well to his political supporters espousing similarly Trumpian views.
But will he be able to attend? The dynamics of the government shutdown–whether it approaches resolution, as well as its optics–should the president be seen as fleeing the arena when the action is at its peak–will help determine his presence or absence. As they used to say on TV, stay tuned for the continuing misadventures of Captain Caveman, I mean…Donald Trump.