Trump at Davos: President deals with businessmen, not body-slammers

For those who despise Donald Trump for his eccentricity, his bombast, his loose grip on the truth, for his occasional use of profanity, his first group appearance at Davos should be reassuring. Why? Because he was dealing with businessmen, not politicians.

The Trump who dined with business leaders on Thursday wasn’t trying to bully anyone. He wasn’t trying to body-slam opponents. He was doing what he does best: selling the greatness of America to businessmen who recognize him for what he is: the salesman-in-chief.

Unlike his stiff meeting earlier in the day with British Prime Minister Theresa May, where he was at unnatural pains to reassure everyone of their close and loving friendship, Trump, with the businessmen, could be himself. He thanked some of them for bringing jobs back to America, chivvied others to do the same, complimented some on their market share, enquired knowingly about the percentage of profits they made from specific items – aspirin and chocolate for instance – and in general, acted and sounded like someone who belonged.

It was a welcome change.

The Trump we saw Thursday was a dispenser of positive attitude and genuine gratitude, not meaningless platitude. Hope we see more of it.

Trump can appear the proverbial bull in a china shop when trying to explain America First to snooty Europeans like Germany’s Angela Merkel, who clearly is repelled by his nationalist spiel. Then again, it is Merkel, not Trump, who currently is in the political fight of her life, trying to cobble together a coalition government after badly misjudging the mood of her electorate last year.

Indeed, Trump can make intemperate statements, as he did about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – “rocket boy” may have been a bit beneath even Trump, whose bottom floor of social grace has yet to be discovered. He needlessly insults his closest neighbor, Mexico, with rash generalizations about how many of their immigrants to the United States are criminals.

And sure, he appears to be handing out mixed messages about his willingness to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president’s connections – if any – to Russia during the 2016 campaign.

But with the leaders of Adidas, Siemens, Nestle and HSBC, Trump could deal out razzle-dazzle and insincere compliments and get away with it – because that is what all businessmen do.  

The Trump we saw Thursday was a dispenser of positive attitude and genuine gratitude, not meaningless platitude. Hope we see more of it.

John Moody is Executive Vice President, Executive Editor for Fox News. A former Rome bureau chief for Time magazine, he is the author of four books including "Pope John Paul II : Biography."