Trump-a-day

Autumn is a beautiful time of the year: as the nature changes its colours and makeup, the most interesting books are published and films are screened. As we are sipping pumpkin spice latte, the social, political and awards seasons are getting in full swing. September is also the month when the United Nations (U.N.) has its General Assembly, the most high profile event in the diplomatic calendar.

President Trump today kicked off his maiden appearance at the U.N. with a call to overhaul the international organisation. 


“In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement,” Trump said at an event dedicated to U.N. reform. Trump’s comments come as he prepares to deliver his first remarks before the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York on Tuesday. 

The president has been deeply critical of the 72-year-old organisation and dozens of world leaders at the summit are anxious to hear how he plans to address those concerns, as well as hotspots like North Korea. The White House believes the U.S. pays too much for what it gets in return and that peacekeeping missions should be examined for excessive spending. Administration officials have described the U.N. as a bloated bureaucracy and have expressed anger by what they view as insufficient support for key allies, like Israel.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that she is happy with the direction the U.N. has taken in recent weeks, noting that “Israel bashing” has declined and that the U.N. has passed new sanctions on North Korea. “We said we needed to get value for our dollar, and what we’re finding is that the international community is right there with us in support of reform,” she added. Well, bearing in mind North Korea’s recent ballistic performances, the international community is all about basic survival. Ask anyone from Japan or South Korea. 

The U.N. recently passed two rounds of sanctions against North Korea, and the Trump administration will be seeking to galvanise the isolated country’s regional neighbours, including Russia and China, against it.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that despite Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric, the U.S. is committed to a diplomatic solution. “I’m waiting for the regime of North Korea to give us some indication that they’re prepared to have constructive, productive talks,” Tillerson said Sunday.

Haley, however, has spoken more boldly about the potential for U.S. military action. “We wanted to be responsible and go through all diplomatic means to get their attention first,” she said Sunday on “State of the Union.” “If that doesn’t work, [Defense Secretary James] Mattis will take care of it.” Oh dear!


*

Politics took the spotlight during Sunday night’s telecast of the Emmy Awards, the first since President Trump was elected. The former television star and current US President was a huge part of the show, from host Stephen Colbert’s opening monologue to the end, when “The Handmaid’s Tale,” about a dystopian future in which a tyrannical government has taken over the United States, was awarded best drama. 

The night featured actor Alec Baldwin winning an Emmy Award for his portrayal of the president on Saturday Night Live. 

“At long last Mr. President, here is your Emmy,” Baldwin said after winning the award. 

Baldwin’s comments were a reference to Trump’s desire for an Emmy. “The Apprentice,” his long-running show on NBC, was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program twice, but lost both times. Colbert jokingly blamed the academy for Trump’s election, suggesting that if the future president had won an award he might never have left television. “Why didn’t you give him an Emmy? If he had won an Emmy, I bet he wouldn’t have run for president. In a way, this is all your fault,” he said.

Trump has in the past tweeted about the Emmys, calling them “horrendous” and saying they have “no credibility.” Obviously, he’d say that. 

The decades-old “SNL” had a big year by ripping Trump week after week. In addition to Baldwin, Kate McKinnon won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy, in part for her “SNL” portrayals of Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, while Melissa McCarthy won last week for her guest performance as Sean Spicer. Former White House press secretary also made an appearance, just to mock himself for his comments in January declaring President Trump’s inauguration was the most watched in history. 


“This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period, both in-person and around the world,” a smiling Spicer said. Quite a few people criticised Spicer’s appearance on the grounds that he should not be turning into a celebrity. In a separate interview last week, Spicer said that he had no plans to write memoirs and that he did regret (quite rightly so) some of the suits he had worn during press briefings. Celebrity or not, not working in the White House looks good on Spicer. 

Trump-a-day

U.K. foreign secretary Boris Johnson finally caught up on the trans-Atlantic news, specifically, Donald Trump’s response to the Charlottesville, Virginia, riots. Johnson told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “I thought he [Donald Trump] got it totally wrong and I thought it was a great shame that he failed to make a clear and fast distinction, which we all are able to make, between fascists and anti-fascists, between Nazis and anti-Nazis.” The state visit was more likely to happen next year than this, he added.


In case you missed it, earlier this year, Johnson praised praises Trump’s tweets for ‘engaging people.’ In a July interview with Today programme, the foreign secretary intimated he was envious of the freedom with which Trump expressed his views on Twitter, despite the intense criticism the president has faced over his use of the network.

“Donald Trump’s approach to politics has been something that has gripped the imagination of people around the world. He has engaged people in politics in a way that we haven’t seen for a long time, with his tweets and all the rest of it. I certainly wouldn’t be allowed to tweet in the way that he does, much as I might like to. I’m seeing my Foreign Office minders looking extremely apprehensive here,” Johnson said. Well, Boris, Trump should not be allowed either, because his “foot in mouth” disease is how “the rest of it” became normal. Trump is doing ten things a day that, in normal times, even just one would be a proper scandal.

*

“What do we want?”

“The wall!”

Alec Baldwin reprised his President Trump portrayal on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Summer Edition.” 

Baldwin mocked Trump’s raucous rally earlier this week and jabbed Trump for attacking the media over coverage of his response to the violence in Charlottesville that was roundly criticized.

“As we all know, there was a tragic victim that came out of Charlottesville – me,” Baldwin’s Trump said. “Folks, the media has treated me so unfairly by reporting my entire remarks, even the bad ones.”

Baldwin’s Trump addressed holding a campaign rally three years before the next presidential election, saying “it’s never too early to campaign for 2020. Mike Pence is already doing it.”

His Trump character also played up his primetime speech to the nation on Afghanistan earlier this week, saying he had “solved” the problem with a U.S. strategy in the country. “I sat down with our military, we looked at the map and I asked the hard questions, like which one is Afghanistan?” Baldwin’s Trump said.


Baldwin has played Trump on “Saturday Night Live” for the last year and re-appeared on the special summer episode of the show after confirming in June that he would return to the show this fall to portray the president. Thanks, Alec, it would have been a shame not to!