The POTUS has left for his trip and ahead of him was weeks of preparation by staffers and foreign delegations in an effort to ease Trump into the delicate world of international diplomacy. His itinerary takes him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican and he’ll close the trip with summits in Brussels and Sicily.
Trump’s team has spent weeks trying to build “daily downtime” into an otherwise packed schedule. What’s important to remember is that in recent presidential history, this type of effort and detail has been kept behind closed doors. It just isn’t relevant for a president that is capable of handling the pressures of international diplomacy. Trump on the other hand, has trouble in his own country let alone a foreign country, making a trip of this magnitude a thin ice affair to say the least.
Former Foreign Policy Advisor for Joe Biden, Julianne Smith, said “The chance of something going wrong – you insult the hosts, you get sick, your boss gets sick, you miscommunicate with your hosts, you make a scheduling error, you need to change the schedule just hours before a meeting, the motorcade gets stuck in traffic, or the plane is stranded due to bad weather – is extremely high.”
Most would likely agree with her on this and most would likely have trepidations in Trump’s ability to execute the tasks given his wildly unpredictable nature in most things. The length of this trip being taken isn’t the only thing that has the potential to be regrettable. This trip marks the first time since taking office that Trump is spending a night someplace other than the White House or a location that bears his name out front. He won’t have staffers who know his meal preferences, the temperature he likes his room or be surrounded by long-time friends who have memberships.
Most countries have traditions around food and meals that can easily cause offense if not accepted and enjoyed without hesitation; short of life threatening allergies that is. Staffers are travelling ahead of Trump to all the locations he will be visiting to make sure that his favorite meal, steak with a side of ketchup, is offered alongside any traditional local cuisine.
With the penchant Trump has for not really giving a crap about anybody but himself, he’s going to leave a path of destruction behind him as he leaves these countries. He’ll eat the steak meal, probably sample the local cuisine, and then just move on. Most cultures see wasting food as offensive and his choosing to eat the steak instead of their local food will sour any chances of positive outcomes for these meetings and summits with leaders.
For all the international businesses that Trump owns or is a part of, he really isn’t a well-travelled individual. During his first marriage to Ivana, she would take his children to visits to the former Czechoslovakia while he stayed behind. Before he married his current wife Melania, he took a day trip to Slovenia to meet the bride-to-be’s family. His remark to the press was “At least I can say that I went.”
The grey cloud of controversy has followed Trump almost his entire presidency so far and shows no signs of letting up anytime in the near future. Some are wondering if this international trip is the right decision given the very real potential of digging the hole deeper than it already is. The stakes for this trip will be far higher than any previous president as he departs under fresh news surrounding the White Houses’s botched handling of FBI Director James Comey’s firing. Nearly all of Trump’s senior White House officials are traveling with him and one needs to wonder if they’re traveling with him as shields to keep Trump under control.
This trip will make or break a presidency that is already buckling under the stress of its own making. Cracks are forming and support is waning. Americans who voted for Trump are starting to wonder if they made a mistake propping up a man who is overwhelmingly not able to dispatch the duties of the job he has ascended to. The longer he’s allowed to continue the harder it will be to right his wrongs. Trump will only make things worse for himself if not careful and respectful of his foreign hosts.