"We just got back from the
As Trumpisms go, this one is easy to forgive, particularly given how exhausted the president must have been after a weekend of jet-lagged diplomacy, (non-alcoholic) bacchanalia and sword dancing. But it does speak to a larger truth. The president was a stranger in a strange land, a region of ancient conflicts and complex political intrigues.
We have seen the president struggle with the "swamp" in
The king of
Trump replied, "I agree," to diversely interpretable laughter. He also returned the compliment. "Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes. Man!"
In short, the Arab leaders, hardly inexperienced in lavishing praise on men who crave it, have the president's number. Of course, they were given some guidance in this regard. According to New York Times reporter
"Keep it short -- no 30-minute monologue for a 30-second attention span," Baker summarized. "Do not assume he knows the history of the country or its major points of contention. Compliment him on his
These last two points are key. The success -- so far -- of the president's
As Obama learned on the job, he came to believe that the road to peace went through
That is the context of Trump's fawning reception. "Welcome, President Not Obama!"
Equally relevant, the Saudis welcomed Not Candidate Trump.
During the campaign, Trump railed against Muslims, indicted the Saudis as the architects of the 9/11 attacks and said (with more than a little accuracy) that the Saudis want to keep "women as slaves and to kill gays."
In his speech on Sunday, Trump flip-flopped to a somewhat more elevated realism. He said America wants "partners, not perfection" and that he didn't come to "lecture" anybody, hence the refusal to mention anything that rhymed with human rights or democracy.
Which brings me back to Trump's naivetÃ© when it comes to the
He manfully called for the destruction of terrorists, but he talked of them as if they were foreign invaders to be driven out of the swamp, not products of it. Like the man who only has a hammer and therefore thinks every problem is a nail, Trump believes that the