Donald Trump doesn’t fit the profile of my normal dinner guest. He isn’t a man of culture, taste, refinement or social graces, and he tops business suits with baseball caps, all of which make him, well, infra dig.
That works out just fine because I’m unlikely to find myself in a position where I could extend a dinner invitation to the president. And even if I did, he wouldn’t accept it: I definitely don’t fit the profile of his dinner host either.
Yet, much as I find Trump utterly unsympathetic personally, there are things about him as a politician that I like quite a lot.
First, he drives up the wall exactly the kind of people I like to see driven up the wall. Lefties of all hues, both American and European, turn a most satisfying puce colour at the very mention of his name, thereby giving one a most un-Christian hope that they’ll suffer debilitating strokes.
Even better, Trump makes neocons, both American and British, sputter venom and go into hysterical fits. Now I regard neoconservatism as the most objectionable of the mainstream political trends. This is how I describe it in my book Democracy as a Neocon Trick:
“Neoconservatism is an eerie mishmash of Trotskyist temperament, infantile bellicosity, American chauvinism (not exclusively on the part of Americans), expansionism masked by pseudo-messianic verbiage on exporting democracy to every tribal society on earth, Keynesian economics, Fabian socialism, welfarism and statism run riot – all mixed together with a spoonful of vaguely conservative phrases purloined from the rightful owners to trick the neocons’ way to broader electoral support.”
Hence anyone who makes neocons roll on the floor frothing at the mouth can’t be all bad, and Trump qualifies in spades. Neocons are apparatchiks to a man, and Trump doesn’t even bother to conceal his contempt for the apparat, which is a definite feather in his baseball cap.
Such general, mostly aesthetic, considerations apart, I like Trump’s policies, some unequivocally, some with minor reservations. I also can’t help noticing that there’s next to no divergence between his policies and his campaign promises, which makes Trump unique among modern politicians.
In just 11 months he has put forth several excellent policies, which is several more than, in round numbers, the zero that Obama managed in eight years.
The president is pulling America out of the Paris Agreement, which shows that, unlike the groups I’ve mentioned, he doesn’t accept on faith the hoax of anthropogenic global warming. He may be aware that this is the only discovery in the history of science made not by scientists but by the UN.
Speaking of the UN, Trump has a discernible distaste for all international organisations. Unlike him, I wouldn’t include Nato in the list of useless setups, but at least his heart is in the right place. The UN in particular has done no good I can recall, but much harm – and its fanatical shilling for the phantom of global warming is a good example.
In that spirit, the president has pulled the US out of UNESCO, which recognises the Palestinian territories as an independent member state. US laws explicitly prohibit American financing for any such organisations, and these are the laws that Obama ignored, but Trump upholds.
Trump is trying to limit Muslim immigration, setting a good example that our own spivs are unlikely to follow. He clearly doesn’t share Prince Charles’s belief that all religions are equal, which in practice means equally marginal. One wishes Trump didn’t retweet British fascisoid websites, but no one has ever accused him, nor indeed many other Americans, of excessive sensitivity to the subtleties of European politics.
He also tries to limit illegal immigration, mainly across the Mexican border. I’m not sure about building an American version of the Great Wall of China, but the underlying idea is sound.
A state that has no control of its borders, nor any power to decide who is and who isn’t welcome, relinquishes a great part of its sovereignty. This is another lesson one wishes our spivs could learn from Trump. Actually, even though the wall hasn’t been built yet, illegal Mexican immigration has already been cut by a third.
Trump’s conduct of the Middle East mess isn’t of sterling quality, but it’s much better than any of his predecessors’. He concentrates on a narrowly defined objective, that of defeating Isis, and spares us the emetic neocon effluvia about nation building.
Trump has for all intents and purposes undone Obama’s deal with Iran that was guaranteed to put nuclear weapons into the mullahs’ hands. During the campaign, he described this as the worst deal in American history, and it’s certainly right up there, or down, as the case may be.
The US economy has surged under Trump, following eight years of near stagnation. Thanks to his getting rid of many of Obama’s regulations, the economy is growing at a respectable 3.3 per cent, employment is way up, US share indices are beating all imaginable records.
His new tax package is guaranteed to act as another spur, even though I question some of its protectionist implications. Yet Trump, if anything, has mitigated his protectionist instincts, certainly compared to his election rhetoric.
The president has also tried to demolish Obamacare. Even though Congress hasn’t yet gone along, at least Trump understands the destructive potential of socialised medicine, something our lot don’t.
Alas, much of his good work is in my view undone by his cosy relationship with Putin, about whom Trump has so far not said a single disparaging word. He had to endorse the new sanctions that Congress pushed down his throat, but he wouldn’t have done that had he had an option.
Whether this relationship is just cosy or criminal is up to the Mueller investigation to uncover. If it turns out that Trump effectively acted as Putin’s agent in the run-up to the election (which in my view is a distinct possibility), he ought to be not just impeached but flailed alive.
But I hope Trump will be exonerated – he has the makings of a good president, one who can drain the swamp of apparat politics, or at least make it less putrid. He and I don’t share many friends, but at least – and it’s almost as good – we share quite a few enemies.