OPINION

With the charm and grace of a schoolyard bully and the vocabulary of a sixth-grader, Trump’s phone calls to some world leaders have accomplished nothing but astound them, and perhaps, make them wonder if America has gone mad.

In a phone conversation with Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Wednesday, Trump continually bragged about his Electoral College win and criticized Turnbull for his policies regarding immigration, then ended the call abruptly after about 25 minutes. Trump later turned to Twitter and complained about an agreement between the Obama Administration and Australia over immigration.  Later, Turnbull acknowledged the press’s interpretation of his conversation with Trump.

When he spoke to Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, it was reported that Trump was hostile and threatened to send US troops. Though some sources, including those coming out of Mexico, have said Trump did not threaten them with US troops.

There would be a good reason why Mexico would deny the context of the conversation. Sending troops in would be tantamount to war. Still, the Associated Press maintains they have a transcript and trump did mention sending US troops to Mexico.

…”You have a bunch of bad hombres down there.” trump told Pena Nieto, “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”

However, in a transcript CNN obtained from Nieto, Trump is quoted as saying, “You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with. We are willing to help with that big-league, but they have be (sic) knocked out and you have not done a good job knocking them out.” In this version, Trump words sound pompous, but not threatening.

It’s difficult to figure out what is going on. The two news media services provide different quotes on the same information. Could it be the Trump Administration is sending out alternative information to make the press look senseless? Certainly, but we don’t know that for sure either. It is not unusual for two sources to provide a different account of the same story.

Not having the full story is damaging to a democracy and having sets of information that suggests that one or the other is false, is more damaging. Regardless, Trump’s tone in both transcripts are hostile and condescending.

Even in a fog, some things appear to be clear. Trump wants to keep everybody guessing, he is condescending and hostile in tone, sometimes over complimentary and talks endlessly about his election victory. Until every country in the world runs a front-page story praising his victory, it’s doubtful he will stop talking about it, yet, that may only encourage him to crow about it further.

If nothing else, he has given the press a reason to be more focused than ever before. Not since the days of Hugo Chavez, of Venezuela have we seen such madness in a world leader.

His tone with the Australian President was eccentric. His tone with Mexico has been hostile at times and reconciled at others – from what we can gather. His commoner-like talk the Great Britain’s Prime Minister Theressa May, seemed disrespectful to the unbending Brits.

His mannerisms, speech and sudden shifts in tone with other foreign leaders will make it difficult, if not impossible, to retain good relationships with countries that have been our allies for decades; they simply won’t know how seriously to take him.

Throw everything we’ve known about the leadership out the window, what we have known, no longer applies.

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