Donald Trump endorsed a demand from his economic advisor Larry Kudlow that CNBC retract and apologize for a report that the lame-duck president failed to attend a side session of the G20 summit of world leaders that was dedicated to “Pandemic Preparedness and Response” in a post that he tweeted out this afternoon.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2020
Kudlow’s claims that Trump delivered “a message” on the pandemic at the summit pointedly does not deny that he left the virtual proceedings to play golf at his Virginia resort and ignored the comments and contributions of the other world leaders to the discussion.
The fact of the matter was that Trump did address the main G-20 session, but left to golf before the side panel even began as the official video of the event posted here demonstrates.
Instead, the arrogant demand for an apology makes the assumption that all that was required of the notoriously self-centered president was to mouth whatever words his speechwriters handed him and ignores any responsibility he has as the American representative to the world body to fully participate in the discussion.
According to CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson, it’s not likely that many of the other world leaders attending the summit were unhappy over his abrupt departure whether it was following an official statement of his views on the pandemic or not.
In a devastating assessment of the international reaction to Trump’s abandoning of the G-20 to hit tiny balls with sticks at his private resort, Robertson describes the combined, but unspoken, general response to both Trump’s early exit yesterday and to his refusal to concede his defeat at the hands of President-elect Joe Biden as “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
As Robertson so eloquently put it:
“Trump has been out of kilter with the global mood since he first took office preaching his “America first, fair, not free trade” brand of nationalist isolationist hubris.”
The disparity between Trump’s now nationally-rejected rhetoric and the positions of international leaders was on public display as one leader after another contradicted the American president’s views on the value of the World Trade Organization and on the effectiveness of the American federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the world needed leadership [to combat Covid-19] there was none,” said Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment, Khalid al-Falih.
Al-Falih said that the G-20 was crucial to efforts at a coordinated international response to the pandemic as some countries “turned inwards towards nationalism,” a reference to Trump’s America that the other world leaders could not have misunderstood.
Unlike other governments that released the videos of their leader’s G-20 remarks, the White House has not seen fit to make Trump’s streamed appearance at the summit public, so only those participating in the virtual meeting could discern what his tone and bearing were and how the audience of international leaders responded to it.
A second speech delivered today, however, was broadcast and Robertson describes the pre-recorded address thusly:
“His tone was strident and uncompromising, his message aggressive and familiar: anti-global climate change controls.”
In a development that shouldn’t be surprising to those who accept the reality of Trump’s failure to win re-election, the reaction to the lame-duck president’s speech was underwhelming.
“In a room full of reporters and officials in Riyadh, as Trump’s speech was played on a massive screen almost no one paid attention, unlike when the other leaders spoke, ” CNN‘s Robertson reports.
The measure of contempt and indifference that trump displayed at the G-20 summit is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that when Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, the official chair of the summit, delivered his closing remarks, Trump reportedly wasn’t even present in his little Zoom box on the computer screens of the participants.
Instead, he was replaced by what Robertson describes as “a disinterested underling, an apparent final gesture of contempt” for the international body.
With such an embarrassing performance at his final major international meeting, Donald Trump is the person who should be offering an apology, not demanding one, after his international counterparts are so obviously happy to see a competent, cooperative, and familiar successor soon to replace him in the White House.
It’s time for Donald Trump to take his football and go home to Mar-a-Lago or whatever other tax-advantaged haven he may eventually retreat to once he’s evicted from public housing.
In the meantime, we’ll await the disposition of the many indictments he’s likely to face absent a last-minute, legally dubious self-pardon and his likely return to some form of public housing during his predicted incarceration.
Original reporting by Nic Robertson at CNN.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.