I Guess It’s Hard Not To Show Your Ass When It’s That Big

Actual businessman Rex Tillerson and actual billionaire Wilbur Ross engage in steely-eyed, high-stakes diplomatic maneuvering, while an outclassed idiot with no idea what is going on listens to an AM broadcast of a Mets game.

Despite the media’s post-game insistence that he had a tight, unified narrative, Donald Trump ran almost entirely on incoherent, mutually exclusive campaign promises. He made pointedly right-wing threats against the “disaster” of Obamacare, while making vague promises of a left-wing single-payer system that would somehow be free. He vowed to kick out all the immigrants, yet he pledged to improve our immigrant-juiced economy at the same time. He repeatedly insisted that he was an exceptionally smart person, while simultaneously maintaining that the construction of a 50-foot steel-reinforced-concrete palisade through the Arizona desert is a good idea. Most gallingly, he promised to be a champion of women, all the while continuing to be Donald Trump.

For pure cognitive dissonance, though, nothing could touch his foreign policy. He vowed to restore our “badly depleted” military (to be fair, we’ve fallen from a simple majority of global defense spending to an overwhelming plurality), while promising to withdraw from the foreign entanglements and global defense leadership that one usually needs a hegemonic naval presence for. We would “bomb the shit out of ISIS” without getting involved in wars in the Middle East at the same time. We would pick fights with our trading partners and allies and still get better “deals.” We would withdraw from every sphere of American soft power—diplomacy, foreign aid, trade, scientific leadership, moral leadership—and somehow come out more “respected” on the world stage.

It was impossible to divine a coherent policy from the nonsense flowing from our future president’s mouth, but at least it sounded like he might take a welcome hard line on China. Xi Jinping’s increasingly authoritarian government badly needs to be put in check. As the Middle Kingdom’s rapid economic expansion has inevitably slowed down, the CCP has gotten more aggressive at home and abroad to tighten their grip on power, and they’re not being shy about it either. Leaving aside their South China Sea shenanigans, China has ingratiated itself deep in every country in our hemisphere except Mexico (though they’re rethinking that stance on account of el Payaso). If our world was a game of Risk, there would be red all over our side of the map.

A complete dumbass with no grasp of macroeconomics might look at China’s deep trade deficits in the Americas and think that “Brazil is making China look stupid” or that “we should find out how China tricked Mexico into giving them so much trade deficit.” Someone with any fucking idea what they’re talking about would say this chart represents a major power’s competing influence in our hemisphere, but who’s to say who’s right?

On the other hand, if the national security establishment could focus President Lear’s anti-storm rhetoric towards a constructive purpose, and channel his meaningless blathering about a nation and an issue he knows nothing about into real policy, it could contain an assertive Chinese presence in the Pacific. Maybe it could offset the damage done by his totally-not-treasonous acquiescence to Russia on the world stage. Maybe if we could just point our Faulknerian Don Quixote towards the right windmills and let ‘er rip, we might see some geopolitical leadership emerge from his information-free, unemployed-steelworker-baiting bullshit.

However, Donald Trump has thus far abandoned his “tough on China” rhetoric in favor of a “going out like a punk-ass bitch on China” strategy.

Trump has gone out of his way to appear as weak as possible in every dealing he’s had with China thus far. He pulled out of the TPP as soon as he took office, alienating all of our Southeast Asian allies. He raised the question of the One China Policy, explicitly stated that it was just a “bargaining chip,” and then caved to China on the matter seemingly unprompted, totally losing their respect in the process (not to mention losing the bargaining chip). He publicly admitted that he didn’t understand the Korea crisis until the actual head of state of the People’s Republic of China patiently explained it to him in person, which is the closest he’s come to straight-up admitting to everyone on Earth that he’s a dumbass. As a direct result of this little high-profile history lesson, he then offered up as-yet-unnamed concessions to China for their help in resolving a nuclear crisis on their own border, which no president has done in 40 years. After two years of Mussolini-esque macho posturing, the “toughest president God ever created on China” is objectively the softest president on China in the entire history of USA-PRC relations. That is a literal fact.

Donald “China is laughing at us because we’re so stupid” Trump and Xi “Kim-era Korean History for Dummies” Jinping, who would be laughing at us in this picture, if Chinese Politicians were physically capable of emotion or personality.

It’s to be expected, though. We all know he can only focus on one problem at a time, and the World’s Only Problem at the time of his conversation with Mr. Xi was North Korea. Under the circumstances, why wouldn’t he make a “deal” and possibly give away secured shipping through the South China Sea just so he can sign something on camera, and [try to] shake someone’s hand in the process? His obsession with “strength,” at least in the most facile, superficial sense of the term, becomes his most easily exploited weakness in practice.

It would have taken an English-speaking aide five good minutes of Trump’s attention to explain what Xi and his interpreter told him in ten, or at least to explain the broadest outlines of Sino-Korean relations and provide the President with a couple phrases he could bullshit his way through the conversation with. Trump’s 85-word vocabulary is a limitation, but he is capable of temporarily supplementing that limited repertoire with official-sounding phrases, which his brain bats around like cat toys before quickly forgetting them. I’ve seen him do this many times. All he had to do was learn a few facts about North Korea, and he wouldn’t look pathetically weak in the world’s most important bilateral relationship. Unfortunately, he is weak, both in mind and spirit, and he couldn’t even bother to fake it.

Do mine eyes deceive me? Can this divine beauty truly share this dismal plane with such unworthy wretches as we? O Aphrodite! O Muse! Glory be to your radiant confection!

Then, just to cement his street cred as a simple-minded old fool, he went on the air to speak at length about the chocolate cake he was eating with Mr. Xi during his visit to Mar-a-Lago. Oh, and he also brought up that he made an offhand mention of a unilateral missile strike in a war zone occupied by a rival nuclear power. Then again, it’s a good thing it was an offhand mention, because he incorrectly identified the country we bombed; either way, the chocolate cake was delicious. After all, this chocolate cake was the most beautiful piece, as beautiful as our young and beautiful students in our hellish schools, or those beautiful sarin-gassed babies in Syria, or the beautiful 2,000-mile-long monument to hatred he is actually still trying to build… of the six adjectives he knows, “beautiful” is the one whose constant misuse I’ve come to despise the most.

Then again, given that Trump is doing his level best to collaborate with his Russian patron, whose stated interests are diametric opposites to our own, how could anyone take his tough posturing seriously? Those Syrian children were gassed immediately after Trump publicly backed off of Assad’s regime, and Bashar seems more or less unfazed by the abrupt reversal of our stance towards Damascus because he knows that Trump’s boss is shielding him from any real blowback. Those 59 tomahawks were less disruptive to that airfield’s operations than a four-inch snowfall is to Laguardia (which the Donald is still doing nothing to fix). While it is protocol to offer notification of a strike beforehand, given his proud contempt for humanitarian military protocols and his vow never to let anyone know his tactical plans in advance, it looks sort of odd that Trump personally gave Putin two hours notice. That is, if he wasn’t calling to coordinate the targets.

You can call the administration’s fealty to Russia a “liberal conspiracy theory” all you want—no Democratic senator felt honor-bound to pass along Obama’s real Kenyan birth certificate to the head of the FBI, and that birth certificate was not submitted as evidence to a FISA Court for surveillance of high-ranking OFA staff, and no one wound up arrested or dead in car trunks in Nairobi because they spoke to a respected former Mi:6 agent about the Luo-Communist conspiracy against the American system. As long as he’s Russia’s bitch, he’s everyone’s bitch, which makes him especially easy pickings for anyone ruthless and canny enough to claw their way to the top of the Chinese Communist Party.

Of course, I could be overestimating the complexity of our President’s motivations. He might just be selling out the long-term security of Japan and South Korea so his daughter can sell handbags without the threat of counterfeit merchandise eating into her sales. To be fair, she’s right to worry, because China is in fact a country that undercuts American products and workers with relentless counterfeiting and IP theft, and distorts global markets through its dirigiste manipulation of market sectors from green tech to e-commerce. Candidate Trump promised to take a firm line on that misbehavior, but President Trump is a fat pussy who will shower affection on anyone, friend or foe, who makes direct eye contact with him. Except Angela Merkel.

Voters looked at this man and saw the vessel through which America’s masculinity shall be restored, and not a physically decrepit piece of motherless, fat-titted shit, because voters are stupid and democracy doesn’t work.

As with all his shortcomings, I can take comfort that his inability to do good is an inability to do bad. His weakness internationally is mirrored domestically, and every loss of global credibility hampers his credibility at home. No one takes him seriously when he threatens to defund Obamacare unless Democrats give him money for his insipid wall, or demands a losing AHCA vote to ferret out traitors in the Republican conference. Everyone knows he’ll back down, no matter what the threat. He leads a divided party that he lacks the wherewithal to unite, and his stock threat to blow up the world for no reason would be legally and politically untenable in practice. He’s not holding a lot of cards to begin with, and you can’t play the cards you are holding if you can’t read them — with every hand he loses, his bluffs are less and less convincing, a problem for a man who knows no other rhetorical tactic except for bluffing. Without the public’s unearned faith, how can he expect to spearhead tax reform without publicly disclosing how much the tax cuts will benefit him and his children? It’s a bit of a tall order.

As always, we find ourselves in the same place as we have for these past 100 days: hoping the American system at home will be saved from destruction only by Trump’s inability to destroy it, and hoping the American system abroad won’t wither and die behind Trump’s unwillingness to maintain it. Against my better judgment, I thought I could at least count on him to carry our global leadership with a little swagger, and bring his caveman philosophy to bear against geopolitical aggressors. Sadly, when you go looking for silver linings in the Trump Presidency, you’re bound to come up empty-handed, just like Trump does every time he deals with a foreign leader.

Seriously though: yo got played like a bitch. Straight up.

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