Donald Trump departs today for a 9-day foreign trip that will take him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Belgium, Italy, and the Vatican to meet with dignitaries and world leaders and discuss U.S. relations. The President — who up until this point has shuttled between the White House and his own Mar-a-Lago property in Florida — is reportedly dreading his international travels.
“Mr. Trump has groused to several friends that he is not looking forward to leaving his new White House cocoon for high-profile, high-pressure meetings with dozens of world leaders in unfamiliar settings,” reports The New York Times. “At one point, he barked at an aide that he thought his first tour abroad should be only about half as long.”
Trump, who currently faces intense scrutiny for his alleged ties to Russia and the recent firing of FBI Director James Comey, is missing the value of a foreign trip coming at such a precarious moment. Meeting with world leaders will allow Trump and his flailing presidency to walk his foreign counterparts through his ‘America First’ plan, perhaps salvaging the clown-like impression he has performed on the world stage these first few months.
In the preparation leading to Trump’s departure, the lengths to which foreign embassies are going to accommodate the mercurial president can best be described as child-proofing the President’s upcoming visit.
“After four months of interactions between Mr. Trump and his counterparts, foreign officials and their Washington consultants say certain rules have emerged,” explains The New York Times. “Keep it short — no 30-minute monologue for a 30-second attention span. Do not assume [Trump] knows the history of the country or its major points of contention. Compliment [Trump] on his Electoral College victory. Contrast him favorably with President Barack Obama. Do not get hung up on whatever was said during the campaign. Stay in regular touch. Do not go in with a shopping list but bring some sort of deal he can call a victory.”
In other words, world leaders are preparing for President Trump’s arrival the way a parent may approach a temperamental child. Perhaps the comparison is not far off. NATO will be leaning on visual aids to help simplify their presentations to Trump. Saudi Arabia will plan to serve Trump’s favorite meal — steak and ketchup — while the Trump team has fought to schedule plenty of ‘downtime’ for Trump to nap.