Donald Trump gets close to sanity—physically, that is - Macleans.ca
 

Donald Trump gets close to sanity—physically, that is

Allen Abel: For a few fleeting moments, a composed and cerebral leader sat next to the president in the Oval Office. The contrast was striking.


 
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 28: US President Donald J. Trump (C) delivers remarks to members of the news media during his meeting with President Sauli Niinisto (L) of Finland, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) and US Vice President Mike Pence (2-R) in the Oval Office of the White House on August 28, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

Trump with Sauli Niinisto (L) of Finland, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (far right) and Vice President Mike Pence (second from right) in the Oval Office (Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

The president of the world’s most stable, successful, honest, livable, incorrupt, well-educated, library-book-borrowing, heavy-metal-loving, gender-equal, milk-drinking country spoke in the East Room of the White House on Monday, and so did Donald Trump.

On the eve of a journey with his rarely-seen-in-public wife to inundate Texas with photo-posing and aid from the same Federal Emergency Management Agency that he once pledged to eviscerate, the world’s pre-eminent Angry Bird turned a diplomatic speed-date and press conference with Finland’s Sauli Niinistö into a self-serving tirade against Mexican drug mules, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and—of course—the Clintons.

As Niinistö, a former finance minister, small-town police chief, and author of such books as Ordinary People at the Mercy of Great Events, stood as chill and stolid as a Lappland reindeer, Trump defended his pardon of Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio—announced even as Harvey hammered Houston—by extracting from the pocket of his suitcoat a lengthy list of felonious blackguards who were liberated by the fiat of Bill Clinton and, later, Barack Obama.

RELATED: Trump’s pardon of former sheriff Joe Arpaio sparks anger

“In the middle of a hurricane, even though it was a Friday evening, I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally,” Trump explaimed Monday, hailing the convicted lawman as a true patriot beloved by the (non-Hispanic) people of the Grand Canyon State.

(This boast came mere hours after the president re-tweeted Mother Teresa, of all people, and her famous declaration that “No color, no religion, no nationality should come between us, we are all children of God.”)

The Donald, sucking dry yet another news cycle even while floodwaters swamped a Texan metropolis with a population larger than all of Finland, and as Kim Jong-Un sky-hooked a missile over Hokkaido, was not asked about newly-published reports that his real-estate company actively pursued the erection of a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign. This cyclone, if proved true, would demolish the straw house of Trump’s protestations that “I have no business in Russia.”

With Congress still on its summer break—and with a total shutdown of the federal government looming in the absence of a new budget and an increase in the U.S. national debt, Trump is a solo act on the national stage this week. He and Melania will tour a relatively dry patch of Texas on Tuesday, then go to Missouri on Wednesday to mainline another dime bag of his base’s whooping adulation.

RELATED: What if Donald Trump tries to pardon himself?

In a country besieged by opioid deaths and shattered families, Trump may be the only person immune to overdosing.

“The fake news keeps saying, ‘President Trump is isolated,’ ” Trump’s preternatural 2020 re-election campaign wrote to supporters Monday, drumming up donations from those households not currently as underwater as Metro Houston or The Donald’s approval ratings.

“…They say I’m isolated by lobbyists, corporations, grandstanding politicians, and Hollywood.

“GOOD! I don’t want them. All I ever want is the support and love from the AMERICAN PEOPLE who’ve been betrayed by a weak and self-serving political class.”

President Niinistö, with no skin in the NAFTA game, was reduced to a wallflower as Trump ran through his customary manifest of anti-Mexican imprecations—“They had a sweetheart deal for so many years … a tremendous crime problem—tremendous—one of the number two or three in the world”—and tossed a Mother Teresa northward —“Great respect for Canada, great love for Canada”—while still threatening to cease renegotiating and tear up the whole thing.

But the Finns have their own bugbear on their border, giving them a long, deep and pragmatic knowledge of Russia, born of centuries of propinquity, domination, and—exactly 100 years ago—escape from Russian hegemony. When Vladimir Putin rears his head, Sauli Niinistö feels his hot breath even before Sarah Palin does.

RELATED: Why Donald Trump is turning Arizona blue

“A couple of weeks ago, I met President Putin,” President Niinistö wryly noted in the East Room, “and there were media interested in why Chinese navy is having training together with Russians in Baltic Sea area. Putin answered that it is not a bloc, it is not against anybody. My answer was that we are also training in Baltic Sea with United States and Sweden, and it’s not bloc, it’s not against anybody.”

“Mr. Trump, would you consider Russia as a security threat?” a Finnish journalist asked the American commander-in-chief.

“Well, I consider many countries as a security threat, unfortunately, when you look at what’s going on in the world today,” he demurred.

None of those countries, at least, is Finland, an active contributor of troops and treasure to the Afghan war, a heavily-militarized (for its size) bastion of Western values on the Baltic, and a frontrunner in nearly every recent global survey of living standards, learning and liquor consumption.

This was not lost on the American president as he welcomed the leader of one of the world’s sanest republics to his oblong inner sanctum.

“I was there in the 1990s,” preened The Donald to his guest. “I was famous in Finland then, too!”

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Donald Trump gets close to sanity—physically, that is

  1. Yet again… trump shows what a pathetic waste of skin he is,

  2. Is it illegal to say I’d love to kick this bastard in the nuts?

  3. My my that first paragraph is full of accolades for Finland. Yet with all the accolades the author does not even once mention one of Finland’s biggest problems — suicide.

    The suicide rate in Finland is statistically far higher than the USA. I guess all that “sanity” is over-rated.

    • A pithy comment that invokes superficial information is hardly constructive. The suicide rate in Finland as it relates to all other forms of death (notably in young adults) is high largely because other forms are largely absent. A study in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, noted that stress related health problems including suicide risk correlate to economic inequality. The perverse finding here is that as happiness increases as a result of diminished economic inequality, suicides go up as the stress in someone who is already unhappy is increased by the proximity of neighbours and associates who are happy. A case of “how can I be unhappy when everyone around me is happy”? Frankly, I’d rather have a situation where a country is trying to deal with suicide rates among the young than a country that views appeasing neo-Nazis and pardoning racists as it’s priorities.

      • All right. Let’s be constructive.

        The article you refer to — it’s data set — and it’s references — what are the nagging questions that remain unanswered?

        Why is it the Fins feel that they need to compare themselves to their “neighbours”? Why do they suffer from such low self-esteem? Why are they so hung up on materialism? Why are the Fins so discontent?

        Which leads back to my first point. That the accolades do not justify real-life Finland. Let’s just be honest about it and not paint some rosy fake picture of Finnish life.

        And seriously! If you look at the reasons young people are committing suicide — the stress or peer pressure of new-Nazis does not even appear on the list. To use that as some sort of comparative that Finland is much more desirable then the USA is not even being intellectually honest.

        • Dear Chip, I’ve always thought that Finns and Canadians have a lot in common and I’ve always thought that it applies to stats and rankings as well. A quick look seems to validate this. But yes, there seem to be some differences such as the suicide rate you mentioned. WHO states that in Finland the suicide rate (committed suicides per 100,000 people per year) is 14,2 and in Canada 10,2. Both, I think, are too high figures. An other difference is that in Finland the rate is steadily declining where as in Canada it seems to stay roughly at the same level. With this rate, we seem to catch you within two or three years. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know. I wish that both countries can keep up the good work on preventing suicides and that the rates keep going down in years to come. You also mentioned real-life Finland. Don’t know how much you’ve been able to experience that yourself, but myself having a 50 year experience on the subject, I’d say it’s pretty ok. And again I believe that it’s pretty same compared to real-life Canada. Somewhat rosy, I would say, but with a hint of anguish to keep it really real. Have a great end of the summer and happy to welcome you to Finland to experience real-life Finland yourself!

        • The author is rightly being complementary to Finland because they rank, like many of the Scandinavian countries, very high in the world with respect to quality of life indices, certainly higher than the US. To pick one aspect to try and disparage that country’s overall achievements based on that alone is ridiculous.

          The same with trying to isolate the people of Finland as somehow being unique in comparing themselves with their neighbours when the article notes that it happens in all prosperous states, including the US. It’s called “Keeping up with the Jones” and not a new phenomenon.

          And nobody is saying that Finland is a more or less desirable place to live than the US based on the suicide rates alone. Only you are, and it’s pretty clear who’s the intellectually dishonest person in this discussion. Heck, you can’t even comprehend Meisaltus’ posts correctly.

  4. This was interesting, but the whole thing could have been summed up: “me, me me me me. Me, me, me, me, me. Enough about me… let’s talk about… ME!”

    Niinisto’s face says how he feels about the whole thing, really.

  5. It’s amazing how left-wing writers such as A.A. above never miss an opportunity to “attempt” to put down Trump, a leader who has his country in his best interests, is trying desperately to keep his election promises despite leftist interference, and has improved the U.S. economy tremendously since coming to power. Yet, these same writers give Trudeau, a clear pass after breaking and also promoting breaking Canadian laws, has increased our debt to record levels with no end in sight, and who had nothing but contempt for Canadians, other than to pose for a few selfies and import additional illegals into our country. Where is the truthfulness and objectivity here?

    • Trump said “I was famous in Finland then, too!”

      Noone needs to “attempt” to put Trump down. He does that all on his own.