Back in the US after several months in Lebanon and Ireland, I haven’t found it hard to figure out why people abroad worry about the political process here, specifically how anyone could seriously support the presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump. In the English-speaking area (Greater Britain and Ireland), he is perceived as a raffish buffoon, a blowhard with a grotesquely inflated ego who has somehow managed to lure millions of angry, mainly white voters into his camp despite a series of monumental gaffes, lies, and outrageous misinterpretations of the world situation. In a couple of cases, I had to argue that he was not simply a stooge somehow planted by the Democrats to assure Hillary Clinton’s election.
French and German commentators alternate between disbelief and astonishment. No one seems to take Trump seriously, but they do find the prospect of a Trump presidency to be an appalling proposition. Here in the US, Trump’s latest frenzy is directed at the “media,” especially it would seem the New York Times. He is again threatening to revoke the reporters’ press credentials. If he were president, say somewhat like Recep Erdogan, he might even shut a few presses down if he found them critical. Even short of that, Mr. Trump seems to have forgotten in his enthusiasm for the Second Amendment that there is a First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of the press. Or perhaps he missed a few civics classes in high school.