President Trump — one year in

Whether by accident or by design the anniversary of Donald Trump’s accession to the presidency of the US coincides with the first government shutdown in America since 2013. Such is the gravity of the situation the president has cancelled his celebratory trip to Mar-a-Lago and the anniversary party he had arranged there, and is instead holed up in the White House attempting to salvage what he and the Republican Party can — and all sides are agreed that the shutdown should never have happened.

President Donald J Trump is unlike, in every way, any president America has had before. Mercurial, dishonest, un-political rather than apolitical, unafraid to cross diplomatic red lines and iconoclastic so long as his own iconic status is not threatened. He uses Twitter to narrow-cast his thoughts daily, sometimes several times a day and is happy to insult other world leaders and entire nations as and when it suits him and is completely unapologetic when he does. His physician says he is in fine fettle for his age but could do with losing a few pounds and the electorate faced with a daily storm — those that voted for him — have largely held their loyalty and trust. And that is many millions of Americans. Those that did not vote for him hold their heads in misery and bemoan the cheapening of Brand America. And yet and yet… the US economy is on the uptick, the Dow Jones Index is at a record high and many opine that he will win a second term.

As to what the rest of the world thinks it is perhaps early days to say, but the countries and ethnicities he recently abused using an (alleged) vulgar slur regard him with disdain and contempt. Those that he did not directly insult are increasingly holding him at arm’s length and he is unlikely to get an invitation to an upcoming royal wedding in the UK and has bailed from the opening of the new US embassy in London. Whatever one may think of President Trump he is reshaping what the role of president is and re-writing the American script. Four more years? Probably.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2018.

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