History of U.S. diplomacy by Mr. Trump

Donald Trump explains his rude and crude pronunciamentos (or does one mean pronunciamenti?) as a valuable response to the excess of political correctness in our culture.

My understanding of “political correctness” is avoiding saying important, true things, that need to be said, for fear of offending certain groups, especially feminists or ethnic minorities.

But Trump’s rebellion against political correctness isn’t about saying things that are true and need to be said. In Trump’s version, you just say something that insults someone whom you feel like insulting, or whom it is in your interest to insult, without caring whether the insult is based in fact. Kind of like Archie Bunker calling his wife a “dingbat” or his son-in-law a “meathead.”

People seemed to like Archie Bunker, enough to make “All In the Family” a huge hit in the70s, and they seem to like Trump’s version, enough to make him the front-runner in the 17-candidate Republican presidential field.

It says here that Trump should be held to a higher standard than a fictional character from a sitcom (unless future developments reveal that he is such a character).

So when Trump says, on “Meet the Press” yesterday, for example that Hillary Clinton ranks as “the worst secretary of state in the history of our country,” because “during her reign the entire world fell apart,” Mr. Trump should be expected to have some backup for such a statement, some indication that he was familiar with the other contenders for the title of “worst secretary of state” and could explain why she is the title-winner, and the explanation should be perhaps be a little more fact-and-insight based than just repeating the insult in a louder voice.

But when he made the comment to “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd, and Todd briefly challenged him to explain the history of terrible secretaries of state and how and why Clinton wins the “worst ever” title, Trump had nothing. He was unable to come up with the names of any secretaries of state who had preceded Clinton. Trump did indicate who he believes is “the worst secretary of state after her.” It’s John Kerry who, one might point out, is certainly the worst secretary since Clinton and also the best since Clinton by virtue of being the only secretary of state since Clinton.

Here’s the transcript of that portion of the Trump/Todd exchange, as aired on yesterday’s “Meet the Press,” lightly edited for flow. (The lead-in, just for context, is that Todd asked Trump about his previous relations with the Clinton’s, whom he used to support, and about a phone call he got from Bill Clinton shortly before Trump declared his candidacy.)

DONALD TRUMP: First of all, nobody’s been tougher on Hillary Clinton than me. And when Bill Clinton called me, I had already made up my decision. You know, just so you understand, he called me long after I had made a decision and everyone knew I was running. So it wasn’t like that. And I think he’s very disappointed that I’m running. Because I’m the one person that’s going to beat her.

Now, I think she may not be able to run to be honest because this whole email thing is a horrible thing. General Petraeus, his life has been destroyed. And he did 5% of what she did. So assuming she’s able to run, which would be absolutely to me a miracle at this point, I will beat her. And I don’t see the other people that are running against me currently winning–

CHUCK TODD: You regularly call her the worst secretary of state.

DONALD TRUMP: I think she’s the worst secretary of State in the history of our country. Look at happened during her reign–

CHUCK TODD: Well, it begs the question. I’m a history buff. Who was the worst before her then in your mind?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you who was the worst after her. Kerry because of what–

CHUCK TODD: Who do you believe was the worst before her–

DONALD TRUMP: I don’t want to get into names. I don’t know.  I’m insulting so many people. I don’t want to insult people. I want to be nice to people–

CHUCK TODD: I understand that. But it goes to this larger– everything with you is the best or the worst. There’s no nuance.

DONALD TRUMP: Chuck, during her reign– the entire world fell apart. It fell apart. During her reign, the entire– look what happened. Everything fell apart.

CHUCK TODD: So the Arab Spring is on her? Is that a fair–

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think you– -you could sort of– I mean, you could sort of say maybe a little bit, right? I mean, sort of, right?

CHUCK TODD: That’s a big charge–

DONALD TRUMP: But look at Kerry. Now, Kerry may top her.

The transcript of the entire program is available here.

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Comments (27)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/24/2015 - 10:52 am.

    Chuck Todd the historian

    I saw that interview and it’s true that Trump’s assertion was blunt. But Trump blew the answer to Chuck Todd’s gotcha question, imo.

    CHUCK TODD: Well, it begs the question. I’m a history buff. Who was the worst before her then in your mind?

    TRUMP: (Should have said) “Well, you’re the history buff, you tell me who was worse. Even Jimmy Carter said recently “I can’t think of many nations in the world where we have a better relationship now than when [Obama] took over … I would say the U.S.’s influence and prestige and respect in the world is probably lower than it was six or seven years ago.”

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/24/2015 - 04:23 pm.

      Not how it works

      If Trump makes the claim, he should at least give some reasoning for it. He should at least say why she is worse than John Sherman, who forgot that the administration he worked for was in the process of annexing Hawaii, or William Jennings Bryan, who thought President Wilson should soften his tone towards the Kaiser.

      I do think it’s cute that the hatred of Obama has suddenly turned Jimmy Carter into a quotable figure on foreign policy for conservatives. I also find it amusing that, once again, context is omitted: “The 39th president repeatedly said that he did not blame Obama for the current state of world affairs. Instead, Carter attributed the decline to an historical trend of the U.S. relinquishing ‘its unquestioned domination of world politics and cultural influence.'”

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/24/2015 - 11:33 am.

    Trump made the statement

    It’s up to him to back it up.
    He demonstrated his ignorance instead.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/24/2015 - 11:57 am.

    Minor point

    Mr. Trump’s comment on “Meet the Press” was not blunt. It was simply childish name-calling, without a shred of evidence to support it.

    Mr. Tester’s comment would be more interesting if Mr. Trump had actually said what Mr. Tester says. Unfortunately – for both Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Tester’s veracity – Mr. Trump did not say that, and what Mr. Tester suggests that former president Carter said is not about Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. It’s about – as is often the case with some who like to call themselves “conservative” – Mr. Obama.

    I claim no expertise regarding secretaries of state, so I wouldn’t presume to grade them on a best-to-worst scale, having no actual facts at my command to make such a judgment. Facts, however, are of little concern to Mr. Trump.

    I believe one of the several less-than-complimentary, but still suitable-for-a-family-friendly-website labels that could reasonably be attached to Mr. Trump is “Blowhard.”

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/24/2015 - 12:41 pm.

    Donald Trump Reveals More and More Each Day

    That he is a loud-mouthed, ignorant fool,…

    who is admired by other ignorant individuals because he says what they’ve always WANTED to say,…

    but had the good judgment not to,…

    because they knew that, although they TRULY BELIEVED those things,…

    if they bothered to check with experts regarding the actual facts, figures and statistics,…

    those experts would likely reveal reality to be the opposite of those TRUE BELIEFS,…

    and because so many of them are living and thinking according to Tevia’s immortal line,…

    from Fiddler on the Roof’s “If I Were a Rich Man,”…

    “Whey you’re rich, they think you really know.”

    (That line actually having been written by Sheldon Harnkick.)

  5. Submitted by Curt Carlson on 08/24/2015 - 02:11 pm.

    Proud of ignorance

    Trump, of course, couldn’t name another Secretary of State, and he’s proud of his ignorance. That’s the essence of his appeal – he doesn’t have to know anything other than his own opinions. He’s a solipsist, and cares nothing about the context of his own remarks. It’s amazing to see anyone with a brain defending him for anything he says.

  6. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 08/24/2015 - 04:57 pm.

    See what happens when the news media does its job

    Twice in the last few days Trump has been backed into a corner on his immigration and Secretary of State comments. George Stephanopoulos persistently asked how he would accomplish his immigration claims, he didn’t have an answer. Chuck Todd asked what he bases his comment about Hillary being the worst Secretary of State on. No rational answer was offered. Trump is on his way to apogee where he will explode and fizzle to the ground. Trump is drawing large crowds, but not necessarily supporters. I think they are more likely curiosity seekers. They all want to see what a full out narcissist looks like. Now, Trump wants donations without any strings attached. It’s the GOP campaign method. Elect me now and I’ll give you the sad details later. The GOP circus continues.

  7. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 08/24/2015 - 10:07 pm.

    Forget Trump. What has Hillary Clinton accomplished as a Secretary of State?

    • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 08/25/2015 - 08:26 am.

      Forget Trump

      He is the closest thing to a “leader” that the Republicans have. He is leading in all the Republican polls. Why would you want everyone to forget Trump. It appears he is what the Republicans want. Is this another case of the Republicans were for him before they were against him. Right now the Republicans have one “leader”, Trump, and 15 “followers”. The followers will remain “followers” because they are all waiting to see who the Koch brothers want as their “follower”. The Republicans have a lot more to worry about that than how Hillary did as the Secretary of State, which is past history. The GOP circus continues.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/25/2015 - 09:12 am.

      I wish I could.

      However, this serial business failure (four bankruptcies) is currently the leading nominee for one of our two major parties. So, the relevant (to this posting) question is, what has HE (as opposed to his father and grandfather) accomplished?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/25/2015 - 09:28 am.

      Forget Trump?

      Since the article is about comments made by Mr. Trump, sound journalistic practices would seem to contraindicate forgetting him, at least for now.

    • Submitted by Doug Gray on 08/26/2015 - 11:16 am.

      short list

      Got Osama. New START treaty with Russia. Held coalitions together to impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea. Free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. New State Dept. bureaus on climate change and women’s issues. Response to Fukushima disaster. New treaty of amity and cooperation with the Association of SE Asian Nations. Dialogues with Burma and China. Groundwork for opening with Cuba.

      Now a lot of that was accomplished at a level somewhat below that of the seventh floor at Foggy Bottom and/or working with other government departments, NGOs and private industry. But those who are quick to blame current and former Secretaries of State for all the troubles of a complex, threatening world should at least be willing to acknowledge their contributions to the things that go right.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 08/26/2015 - 08:22 pm.

        What a list

        Let’s see: I think Special Operations got Osama not Clinton; relations with Russia are at post-Cold War low; I do not see any coalition against North Korea (or if there is, they do not care); UN resolution against Iran was done before her and coalition was very shaky (quite a few countries were excused from them); free trade agreements are questionable achievements and most likely not hers anyway; dialogue with Burma and China have not led to anything; groundwork for Cuba is a failure considering what the Castros are doing now; and finally creating another State Department bureau is a dubious achievement. Oh, and what did she do for Japan?

        On the other hand, we see disasters in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan… all under her watchful eye…

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/27/2015 - 09:10 am.

          About that List

          If you are not seeing a coalition against North Korea, you are not looking very hard. North Korea has minimal relations with the outside world, and there doesn’t seem to be any movement to change that situation. Similarly, the coalition against Iran, while indeed “shaky,” did manage to hold together enough to persuade Iran to accept limitations on its nuclear activity. Believe it or not, climate change and women’s issues are important, both as a security matter (which is how the Defense Department regards global warming) and as a humanitarian matter.

          How can the groundwork for Cuba be a “failure,” since diplomatic ties have been restored? Diplomacy calls for a long attention span, especially in a democracy. Few, if any, issues are going to be resolved before the next commercial.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/27/2015 - 09:11 am.

          At least

          YOUR watchful eye sees them and attributes them to her.
          Most of them were already brewing when Obama took office; certainly before she did.
          At most you can accuse her of not being able to clean up messes. She reminds me of the guy with the shovel behind the elephant at the end of the parade.

        • Submitted by Doug Gray on 08/27/2015 - 09:59 am.

          relatively speaking

          Especially as compared to all the accomplishments of Colin Powell and Condaleeza Rice…

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 08/28/2015 - 08:23 pm.

            Let’s see the facts

            Mr. Holbrook, no one deals with North Korea because no one needs them – no coalition is necessary. Coalition against Iran has lead to terrible agreement because everyone wanted so much to get out of that coalition. Calling climate change a security issue is laughable and everybody knows that but Obama is a Commander-in chief… And women issues are important but so are children’s issues and blonds’ issues… Groundwork for Cuba is a failure because an agreement is a failure – have you seen any improvements in Cuba?

            Mr. Brandon, Libya gave up its nukes and was not threatening anyone before Obama and Clinton did their job. And relations with Russia were not good but not as terrible as they are now. And surely, nothing was wrong with Syria before Obama… So no, nothing was brewing before Clinton…

            Mr. Gray, please see above.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/31/2015 - 01:49 pm.

              The Facts

              As opposed to the opinions.

              “Calling climate change a security issue is laughable and everybody knows that but Obama is a Commander-in chief…” The Pentagon has been warning about rapid climate change as a threat to global security since 2003. Unless they’ve been playing the issue for laughs for the past 12 years, I think they’re doing more than humoring the Commander in Chief.

  8. Submitted by Bill Kahn on 08/25/2015 - 09:02 am.

    Archie Bunker for President?

    The whole idea of All in the Family was to contrast the ultimate bigot and his views with all around him. I don’t think you can pin the success of the series on the ‘likability’ of one character, when he was balanced by a loving wife who confronts and controls his worst while holding family and friends together while they all explored the quagmire of American life.

    Trump has no balance and the wonderful thing for Democrats is that if any of his Republican opponents do, they don’t show it or are too marginal as candidates to be noticed (although it is early, yet).

    The fact is that business and government are different and both are certainly necessary; having a disdain for either is not going to make one a good public servant. There used to be some good Republican public servants, but not anymore; they don’t seem to know the difference between business and government because they don’t believe in government and what it must do).

    Real estate probably demands the least from one as businesses go. You follow a set of formulas at the right time with only as much money as you need to get a deal going, and you can be rich if you eventually succeed more than you fail. You don’t have to know much for success in real estate. It does not really qualify one for anything but positions in real estate, and that business is expensive for America (2008 recession, wars here and there, trespassing problems due to trade, legal or illicit).

    Unlike Archie Bunker, The Donald can afford to put a spotlight on the Republican primary campaigns and as we should those who taught the lessons of All in the Family, we should all thank him and his supporters for teaching the vast majority of voters so well who and what a Republican really is these days.

    You can bet that when the Republicans winnow out the field, they will have Trump or someone just as bad to run against the Democrat.

  9. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 08/25/2015 - 10:05 pm.

    Fair and not

    This article is about what Trump said about Clinton so asking question related to this is very legitimate. However asking questions about what Trump accomplished is not (I mean relative to this article) since it was not about his past. And by the way, I am not his fan.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/26/2015 - 08:24 am.

    Maybe…

    Minnpost should just create a “Trump” section/forum and keep it open so everyone can just contribute and comment on his various exploits on an ongoing basis. Just keep it open until he implodes and goes away however long that it.

  11. Submitted by Doug Gray on 08/26/2015 - 11:05 am.

    Dean Acheson

    Left South Korea outside the U.S. “sphere of influence.” Elihu Root was no bargain either.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/26/2015 - 02:39 pm.

      And Who Can Forget . . .

      . . . everyone’s favorite flouter of international law, Henry “Strangelove” Kissinger.

  12. Submitted by Doug Gray on 08/27/2015 - 09:59 am.

    thanks Tom Lehrer

    At least Kissinger managed to accomplish most of the things he started out to accomplish. But I agree, “satire died the day Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.”

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