If they ever get around to making a “Mean Girls” sequel, Justin Trudeau should audition. This week, video surfaced of the Canadian prime minister mocking President Trump for taking excessive questions from the media, causing time hiccups at the NATO summit.
In the footage, Trudeau, who last made news in America for his multiple instances of wearing blackface, is seen joshing with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and others. He doesn’t use Trump’s name, but that’s clearly who he’s talking about.
But should the US president care what foreign leaders or their citizens think of him or us? Nope.
Joe Biden pounced on the video, releasing an ad that highlighted the mocking and warned that “if we give Donald Trump four more years, we’ll have a great deal of difficulty of ever being able to recover America’s standing in the world and our capacity to bring nations together.”
Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, called it “a very smart ad.” Michael Skolnick, a liberal activist and former political director for disgraced media mogul Russell Simmons, tweeted: “This Biden ad will do 10 [million-plus] views on Twitter tonight.” He urged campaigns to use digital ads to “build a cultural narrative against Trump.”
But Biden, lately caught nibbling on his wife’s finger while she delivered a speech on stage, is an odd choice to build that cultural narrative, much less dispel foreign mockery. As even his fans will admit, the ex-veep is a goofball, exactly the kind of loud, awkward American our European and Canadian betters sneer at.
The bigger hole in the ad is that Trump is far from the first US president to get mocked by Continental types. Nor is he the first GOP president to get pilloried by the left for allegedly inviting global scorn.
In 2004, at the height of the Iraq War, then-Sen. John Kerry said during a debate that he wouldn’t take pre-emptive action against any threat without first passing a “global test.” George W. Bush pushed back: “My attitude is you take preemptive action in order to protect the American people, that you act in order to make this country secure.” Kerry also claimed that world leaders had been calling him during the election to offer their support.
European elites despised the “cowboy Bush,” just as they despised the “actor” President Ronald Reagan.
Even President Bill Clinton came in for European mockery. I know, because I lived on the Continent back then. I recall how cultural elites there laughed at Clinton, with his Arkansas twang and his fondness for high-calorie fast food.
As for Obama, maybe they loved him. Then again, he made it a habit to apologize for the United States, not least for our “arrogant, dismissive and derisive” attitude toward Europe. Obama even compared American exceptionalism with British or Greek exceptionalism.
Europeans may have loved that, but did they respect a US president who thought America was just OK? I’m not so sure. Anyway, in that same speech with the apology for our arrogant, dismissive derisiveness, Obama also noted that “in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious.” Yes, it can be — and it didn’t start with Trump.
Then there are the Canadians. The notions that our neighbors to the north loved America before Trump is equally absurd. For decades, Canadians have traveled with little Canadian flags stitched into their backpacks and luggage lest they be mistaken for yucky Yanks. Yes, many ordinary Canadians admire the United States, but there is in their elite culture a strand of European-style superciliousness about us; Trudeau’s “Mean Girls” act was only the latest expression of it.
Americans journeyed across an ocean to avoid being European, and voters, especially those in battleground Midwest states, don’t look to the likes of Trudeau or Macron for ballot-box guidance. In fact, when haughty Europeans or Canadians don’t like the American president, we can be sure he is doing something right.