“THAT man is very strange,” says our Austrian guest. “He looks like, what do you call it…?” Here our visitor mimes washing the floor. “Yes, he looks like a mop.”
It is not always my habit to talk to our Airbnb guests about Donald Trump, but sometimes it’s unavoidable, as that’s all anyone talks about nowadays anywhere in the world, or so it seems. That and the immovable lump of Brexit.
Anyway, after talking Trump with the young American woman the other day, here we are talking Trump (and a bit of the immovable lump) with the young man from Austria.
“He is an idiot,” the Austrian says of the US president, an opinion that is guaranteed a certain universality.
This morning some commentators are saying that Trump is also a “useful idiot” – a phrase that generally refers to someone who is seen as a propagandist for a cause they perhaps do not fully understand.
It was often used of left-wing people who supported communism, so there is something pleasing in seeing ‘useful idiot’ used to disparage a right-wing nutjob president for supporting President Putin, the post-communist leader/virtual dictator of Russia.
Trump’s latest tour has been alarming to world sanity. First, he abuses Nato and then boasts about negotiating a better deal (that had already been agreed by everyone else). Then he stirs up chaos in Britain seemingly to damage the EU (which he later lists as a number one enemy), before shooting off to crawl to Putin in Helsinki, where he supports the Russian leader over his own security services.
Sometimes it is hard to concentrate on all this; sometimes all you want is for the noise to die down; sometimes you wonder if banging your head on the nearest wall might not help; sometimes you just want it all to end.
But you had to concentrate yesterday, for what Trump was saying was remarkable (in an entirely bad way). The American president told the world he didn’t believe his intelligence or law enforcement agents in what they said about Russia interfering in his election to the presidency. He sided with the Russian president against his own country.
This prompted the director of the CIA, John Brennan, to say that Trump’s performance was “nothing less than treasonous”.
In chummy-ing up to the Russian leader, Trump offered victory to Putin and was, in the words of this morning’s Daily Mirror, “acting as Trump’s poodle”.
Trump craves a new world order, in which only the big boys have a say, shoving and back-slapping at the top table. Institutions that have helped keep the peace, or at least helped to give smaller countries a voice, are brushed aside as unnecessary or harmful to the US.
Trump wants to demolish the global order. “He thinks everything is simple and only he knows the answer,” says our Austrian guest, shaking his head over breakfast.
Sometimes laughter is the only refuge. In that spirit, please hunt out something I have already shared on Facebook. Randy Rainbow, an American actor and comedian, is new to me but that man is certainly a discovery.
He has just delivered a mock Gilbert & Sullivan number on the theme “A stable genius of his magnitude deserves an anthem”. It’s brilliant and hilarious – and includes a line that sent me to bed with a smile on my face that was still there in the morning – “He is the very model of a very stable genius/And of all the US presidents he is the Mussoliniest.”
You have to laugh sometimes because the alternative is just too gloomy.
As for the immovable lump of Brexit, our guest says that we voted for it. And then he shrugs…