James Carafano: Trump at NATO summit – There is nothing new about elitists trashing presidents

"When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington," President Trump tweeted from the London NATO meeting on Wednesday morning. "We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days. Safe travels to all!"

Just hours after that tweet Trump left the UK without participating in the final NATO press conference.

The other “BIG NEWS,” in London on Wednesday, according to numerous breathless accounts, is a video reportedly catching Canadian President Justin Trudeau joking about Trump’s lengthy impromptu press conference on Tuesday.

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Quel scandale! And when Trump then decided to skip the final press conference… ooh-la-la!

It’s much ado about nothing, and it’s nothing new at all.

The gossipy accounts from the NATO summit come on the heels of stories noting that Princess Anne’s popularity popped up after she apparently snubbed the U.S. president at a royal reception. And, of course, last week, the Washington Post bravely went after the first lady, taking issue with her fashion choices at the unveiling of the White House Christmas decorations.

Such small-ball reporting reflects how desperate some journalists are to find fault with the president. They must be incredibly frustrated that the president they want to hate so much is so maddeningly effective as both president and leader of the free world.

Washington’s “better types” turned up their noses at Andrew Johnson, Truman and Eisenhower as not being sufficiently urbane and presidential. Lincoln was reviled by many. 

There is nothing new about elitists trashing presidents who don’t act and think like they do.

Washington’s “better types” turned up their noses at Andrew Johnson, Truman and Eisenhower as not being sufficiently urbane and presidential. Lincoln was reviled by many.

Gerald Ford was the butt of jokes on “Saturday Night Live” throughout his presidency. Ronald Reagan was considered beyond the pale among the Illuminati in Washington and Europe. No matter, all of these rank outsiders managed the job of president just fine.

Some suggest Trump is particularly ripe for ridicule. Yes, he is unpopular in Europe, but his approval level among Europeans isn’t much different from that of George W. Bush in his day. And while Reagan was cheered for saying “tear down that wall,” he was also the target of anti-nuclear riots across Europe over the deployment of U.S. intermediate-range nuclear missiles—criticism far more intense than anything faced by Trump.

Whether it happens at home or abroad, trashing the U.S. president is par for the course—and completely risk-free. Ours is, after all, a free world. Were this Stalin’s Soviet Union or Mao’s China, that kind of criticism would land you in a gulag or reeducation camp. In Putin’s Russia or Xi’s China mocking the great leader won’t earn you much better accommodations.

What’s interesting about this small-ball carping about Trump’s leadership is that it looks like that’s all they have to work with.

It’s hard to go after him for his leadership in NATO after the Secretary General heaped praises on him for pushing alliance members to invest in defense and pay more attention to common concerns about China. And, they can no longer credibly criticize him for Syria, where none of the dire predictions have come to pass.

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Most saw Macron’s “brain dead” comment not as a critique of NATO or Trump, but as a reminder that there was no practical alternative to U.S. leadership in the alliance. No one is interested in remaking NATO in the interests of France or the foolish pursuit of European autonomy that would leave Europe more vulnerable than it is now. And virtually no one takes seriously Macron’s jab that the U.S. isn’t the most effective leader in the war against ISIS.

Nor do the sneerers have much to work with elsewhere in the world. They see that Putin has been checked. They see how Beijing struggles to deal with Trump. They see him continue to press for the denuclearization of North Korea. They watch him just hammer Iran.

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The Europeans see all this too—and recognize that none of it comes at their expense This is why he’s been able to make them do more in their own defense than they thought they could do. They’ve seen that the U.S. isn’t stepping down from the world stage, that we are not cutting back defense or pulling back. His leadership has led the free world to do more to defend the free world.

Nor does Trump look like a weakened leader in London. Trump clearly believes the impeachment inquiry won’t force him from office or hurt his re-election chances. And it appears that our friends, allies and enemies are thinking that way as well. The world, some of them grudgingly, are seriously thinking about how to deal with four more years of Trump.

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Faced with a president that is actually batting above 500 on the world stage, critics are grasping at any straw they can find, whether it’s going after the first lady’s wardrobe or showcasing national leaders mildly dishing and giggling like middle-schoolers in the lunchroom.

Good luck with that. If those are the best criticisms that can be found to indict American global leadership, things are going very well indeed for Uncle Sam.