Actually, the president accomplished quite a lot.
There is our president at the G20 meeting, center stage with Argentine president Mauricio Macri. There he is meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. And Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. And German chancellor Angela Merkel.
There he is signing a trade treaty with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s outgoing president, Enrique Peña Nieto. Below the radar, he sneaks in a brief chat with Vladimir Putin. Oh yes, there he is again at a major dinner, agreeing to a trade truce with Xi Jinping president of the People’s Republic of China. And with Australia’s fifth prime minister in five years, Scott Morrison.
All on television. Or so I thought until asked by the New York Times whether I believed my lying eyes rather than its report. “Dodging Allies While Dogged by Woes on Global Stage”, is the page one headline of the paper of record, followed by a headline on the continuation page, “A President Dogged by Legal Woes at Home Dodges Allies on the Global Stage.”
“Preoccupied by legal woes at home,” reports the New York Times. But apparently not so preoccupied as to be unable to sign his newly negotiated trade deal with Mexico and Canada, and to muscle a reluctant Trudeau to attend, and even manage a smile. Trudeau’s unhappiness reflects the obvious pain of a loser, which means Trump was the winner. The president was reduced to a “truncated schedule” reports the paper of record. Not so truncated as to preclude a difficult and lengthy dinner at which Trump negotiated a truce in the trade war with China, with Xi promising to lower tariffs on U.S.-made vehicles and buy more stuff from us.
So which is real? What I saw on television, the treaties signed, the meetings held, the agreement to seek reform of the World Trade Organization? Or the report in the New York Times? I scribble, you decide.