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Presidential growing pains?

January 27, 2017

It’s wise to remember that not everyone who voted for President Trump was wildly enthusiastic about doing so.  While even the most skeptical are now convinced that he meant what he said on the campaign trail, they point out that he is still very new to this whole world leader thing.

Case in point, his tendency to deal with other countries on Twitter instead of behind closed doors, and they point to his relationship or the lack thereof with Mexico as an example.

Generally, if you want someone to come over to your house to play, you don’t tell them to bring one of their own toys and then take their toy and refuse to let them play with yours.

That’s exactly what President Trump did to Mexico’s President Peña Nieto.  Since he has voters to please too, it’s not a surprise that he reacted by canceling the NAFTA meeting.

That meeting with Mexico and Canada was billed as being  about modifying NAFTA, not to publicly challenge the Mexican president on paying for the wall. That could have been done in private.

Indeed, it could be argued that losing a few billion dollars in future Mexican automobile assembly jobs is already a down payment on said wall.

While President Trump certainly gets props for fulfilling domestic campaign promises to the best of his ability early on, even the most rabid of his admirers should be willing to cut POTUS a little slack in the name of ordinary good manners.

To be fair to our President, thanks to the Senate he doesn’t yet have a Secretary of State. Perhaps his willingness to engage directly instead of through diplomatic channels is understandable.

His supporters expect that the main goals they want to see achieved will actually be both doable and beneficial.

With that in mind, it might behoove this administration to at least initially treat other heads of state with the same common courtesy we would expect them to extend to ours.

Once you set aside the bombast, it is true that Mexico has had ample opportunity to take steps that would have avoided even the need for the wall. Using that scorecard, the Mexican officials have only themselves to blame for the position in they find themselves in now.

Even so, there’s time enough to beat them mightily about the head and shoulders if that is what’s required, or to put it another way, there is a difference diplomatically between being strong and being a bully.

Still, it is to be hoped that this diplomatic dust-up can be settled without materially impairing any possible chances for cooperation between the three North American leaders.

From → op-ed

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