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Outsiders vs. Insiders: ‘Presidential’ UN speech puts Trump’s world legitimacy crisis to rest

Reaction to President Donald Trump’s extraordinary speech to the United Nations on Tuesday continues to trickle in with liberals panning it, conservatives praising it and reasonable people seeing it for what it was – a realistic declaration of policy from the leader of the free world.

Unlike his politically correct and timid predecessor Trump saw no reason to avoid directly criticizing and calling out those who do evil in the world. From North Korea to Iran to Venezuela to radical Islamists, Trump named Trump UN Speech names and took notes.

Some even considered Trump’s address a grand slam for its forcefulness but also for its softer side.

Tom Rogan wrote in the Washington Examiner, “…Trump also showed humility. He thanked Middle Eastern nations such as Jordan and Lebanon for supporting millions of Syrian refugees, he praised U.S. aid programs that promote women entrepreneurship, anti-disease, and anti-poverty efforts. And the president described the United Nations mission as ‘beautiful,’ while noted that it needs reform.

“Ultimately, this was a very fine speech; confident and eloquent, but measured and serious. In short, it was a message of American realism, fine-tuned for an era as Trump put it, ‘of both immense promise and great peril.’”

Indeed, it was a first-rate articulation of Trump’s linear view of the world. Of course the president promised annihilation of North Korea should the rogue nation under dictator Kim Jung-un force the United States into a defensive posture. Trump also strongly hinted that the discredited and failing Obama Iran deal would soon be tossed into the circular file of history.

Trump probably drew the most headlines for pinning the nickname “Rocket Man” on the portly North Korean despot, which was a throwback to Trump’s campaign days when he coined useful and descriptive labels for his opponents (though I must admit I never cared much for “Lyin’ Ted”). In the process Trump must have increased online downloads of the catchy 70’s Elton John tune by a hundred-fold.

What much of the post-speech “expert” commentary missed was a tangible sense that Trump had not only arrived on the international scene, but he’s now being taken seriously by the judgmental foreign ruling class. It’s common knowledge world leaders didn’t give Trump much credence during last year’s campaign, believing the spin of liberal pundits who claimed the outsider businessman/celebrity could never win, and even if he did, it would be okay to just pass him off as a loutish amateurish intellectual lightweight clown who tweets too much and doesn’t know the first thing about diplomacy and global security schemes.

Such things can only be learned after spending years attending international conferences listening to people with funny accents lecture on strategic balance and rubbing elbows with academics who espouse climate change, right?

In contrast, now eight months into Trump’s first term no one is questioning his legitimacy to lead the United States any longer. They understand there’s a new game in town with Trump and he won’t be stopping at each country’s United Nations table to apologize for America, its customs, traditions and Constitution. On the contrary, Trump champions American exceptionalism while inviting each people to retain their uniqueness and to be proud of their own identity, history and culture.

Trump believes maintaining sovereignty is the best means for every nation to live in peace, not only with its neighbors but also with countries on the other side of the earth. We can all be ourselves and still get along. Who said international relations had to be complicated?

As would be anticipated Trump’s new American foreign policy direction wasn’t praised by everyone. Trump’s former foe Crooked Hillary Clinton in particular didn’t care much for his tone.

Daniel Chaitin of the Washington Examiner reported, “During an interview with ‘Late Show’ host Stephen Colbert, which is part of Clinton's book tour for her campaign memoir, What Happened, the former secretary of state said she caught some parts of Trump's inaugural address to the U.N. in New York City earlier in the day.

“’I thought it was very dark, dangerous. Not the kind of message that the leader of the greatest nation in the world should be delivering,’ she said...

“’While of course, when you face dangerous situations, like what is happening in North Korea, to make it clear, your first approach should always be diplomatic,’ Clinton said.”

Clinton’s idea of diplomacy must include trusting enemies to stay off her own personal email server. How did that work out?

No reasonable person would have expected Hillary to praise Trump’s speech but her negative rejoinder to it was a tad out of bounds. Clinton no doubt still believes she should have been the one standing behind the podium speaking to the attentive international audience – and there were likely dozens of diplomats in the room who wished it had been her as well instead of Trump.

But it wasn’t. The speech was classic Trump complete with hand gestures, catchy nicknames and blunt vernacular. Trump the non-politician invaded the staid world stage and proudly proclaimed America would not back down from the bullying of two-bit tyrants and cheese-eating thugs.

And only a fool (which certainly includes Hillary) would suggest Trump is rushing to place his hand on the nuclear button in regards to North Korea.

In publicly censuring the Norks Trump was basically borrowing a page out of Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy handbook by talking tough and threatening a massive military response to provocation when in reality he’s done nothing towards further aggravating North Korea or Iran – or any nation. There’s a difference between telling someone you’re going to act in a certain manner and actually signing the marching orders.

Reagan had the audacity to say the Soviet Union was an “evil empire” but his actual boots-on-the-ground military commitments were minimal. Americans could rest assured their backs were covered while not worrying about whether their kids would be deployed to some far off hellhole to potentially die for a loosely defined cause.

The United States has been on high alert ever since the Soviet Union developed its own nuclear bombs after World War II. That fact hasn’t changed; the game is still the same though the players are somewhat different and they’ve moved around the board a bit. All Trump is saying is we’ve got our eyes on the playing pieces and we won’t stand for any cheating.

On the whole Trump’s policy is entirely realistic and his demeanor was, gulp, “presidential.”

Even some of his #NeverTrump critics agreed. Erick Erickson wrote after the speech at The Resurgent, “Whether this President lives up to his vision is another matter and will largely be for history to judge. But his stated foreign policy is mature, stable, and needed. It is grounded in historic American leadership around the world, not isolationism, and not multinational interventionism.

“President Trump’s immediate predecessor took the world stage and often made it seem he thought no nation was better or worse, but all were equal. Every nation said the same thing about how great their nation was and their nation was the best. We did it too as team sport, in Obama’s mind, but his policies were premised on us not being the best nation.

“Yesterday at the United Nations, President Trump all but declared the United States actually really is the best damn nation that ever was, but is humble enough not to try to force everyone to our level.”

Well put. In acknowledging Trump’s maturity as a president Erickson is demonstrating a little evolution of his own. I can’t help but think as time goes on and Trump’s obstinate conservative critics observe the good things the administration is accomplishing that more party unity will result. After all, there’s only so much to complain about when the country is moving in the right direction and reasonable people begin to take another look at Trump’s achievements.

His approval ratings are ticking up too, albeit slowly. Gabby Morrongiello of the Washington Examiner reported, “President Trump's approval rating has rebounded after a summer of record low numbers, according to the latest Politico/Morning Consult poll.

“A month after dipping to 39 percent following his response to the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Trump's approval rating rose to 43 percent in a survey released Wednesday. Among Republican voters, 80 percent gave the president a positive rating this week, a 7-point increase from his lowest mark since taking office.

“Several other polls have shown improvements to the Republican president's approval rating over the last week, likely due to the positive marks he's received for his handling of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the devastation both left behind.”

In her article Morrongiello notes the polls were taken before Trump’s electrifying UN address. Allowing for the media’s typical negative spin it’s unlikely that one speech will dramatically alter people’s opinions of Trump one way or the other.

But with greater international acceptance of his legitimate position as president, Trump’s domestic polling numbers will continue to tick up in the coming months. If the GOP Congress is able to add a few legislative victories to his resume Trump will look awful good indeed.

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