(Cathal McNaughton – Pool /Getty Images)
To be fair to President Donald Trump, he is not the first holder of that office to make inappropriate or nasty comments in private meetings. Thank goodness Lyndon Johnson’s private remarks were not aired at the time. Even as a great civil rights reformer he used the “n” word in the Oval Office when seeking to appoint persons of colour to key judicial appointments. Infamously, Richard “expletive deleted” Nixon and his aides turned the air blue, and it caused stir when the transcripts emerged. It seems unlikely that JFK never used “locker room talk” in meetings.
Still, the allegation that Trump asked in a meeting with Congressional leaders why the US accepts immigrants from “shithole” countries has caused an international incident. He is deeply unpopular outside the US and every new remark or outrage is greeted as vindication, which is always a nice feeling we seek more of. In the UK those of us in the media may even be addicted to Trump and the surge of righteous indignation his pronouncements induce.
In this spirit, Trump’s cancellation of his trip to London, for fake reasons supposedly connected to him not liking the new US embassy building in Vauxhall, set off a virtue-signalling Olympics among those keen to prove they could denounce Trump more than their rivals. Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor, led the way. The Mayor is under pressure on the knife crime epidemic raging on the capital’s streets, and he can always be relied on to pop up with a smug remark about the superiority of London’s values. I’m not sure London’s vaunted values have been of much use to the eighty people dead following knife attacks on London’s streets in 2017. Already this year another four have lost their lives.
But there is another reason each Trump remark elicits such an outpouring of anger. Many people across the spectrum are tired of Trump and the way he is omni-present on social media and dominant in news programmes. His ill-mannered disregard of social norms and civilised codes of behaviour is so unsettling .
For anyone who likes America a lot – I do – this carnival is distressing to watch. Personally, I had to tune out of the latest row earlier today and in the search of something else to read I stumbled across an interview with the Queen talking about the Coronation and crowns. It was an excerpt from a programme that goes out this weekend.
She’s funny, charming and sharp as a tack. Asked about travelling in the Gold State Coach she says: “Horrible. It’s only sprung on leather. Not very comfortable.”
She explains how heavy the crown used in the Coronation is.
“I mean I’ve seen one coronation and been a recipient in the other, which is pretty remarkable.”
The Queen then watches footage of the young Prince Charles and Princess Anne playing with her robes. Interviewer Alastair Bruce remarks: “Such fun for the children.” The Queen replies: “Not what they’re meant to do.”
“The crown jewels matter,” she says. “They are conductors for a feeling that we have about our country, and that is something that comes alive when they’re actually used… There are some disadvantages to the crowns, but otherwise, they’re quite important things.”
We Brits take it for granted that our sovereign Queen Elizabeth II is glorious, with only a few Corbynistas holding out for Len McCluskey as monarch, but the gulf between our head of state and Trump is wider than the Atlantic ocean.
What can be done? The answer is obvious. The American experiment in electing a head of state has failed and an alternative to the Presidency is required.
Such an arrangement need not be permanent. It could operate on a regency basis. The Republican and Democratic Party could then overhaul their primary processes to ensure that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, or anyone related to either of Trump or Hillary, is blocked from seeking the nomination to be President of the United States. When the time is right, Americans can then choose their own head of state again.