President Trump just completed a 12-day trip to Asia, his first as the most powerful man in the world.
By all accounts, the trip was a resounding triumph. Strike that. By all accounts OVER THERE, the trip was a resounding success.
Thousands in China flocked to see the American president, waving tiny U.S. flags and snapping pictures — even of his empty limousine. So wowed were the Chinese that its leaders invited Mr. Trump — a fierce critic of U.S.-Sino trade imbalances — to dine in a palace in Beijing’s Forbidden City, the first foreign leader bestowed such an honor in modern China.
Thousands more were delighted with a video in which Mr. Trump’s 6-year-old granddaughter performed several Chinese songs and recited poetry — in Mandarin. The stylish first lady Melania Trump was the talk of the town as she visited the Great Wall and continued to make America, as she has done from the outset, look great again.
But so what, right? What did Trump actually achieve?
“President Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on Thursday announced more than $250 billion in deals between the two countries across industries like energy, technology and aviation,” CNN reported.
Well, so there’s that.
Mr. Trump bounced across Asia in a blur, hitting Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. For leaders there, it was the first time they came face to face with the new U.S. president — and he’s an imposing man, all 6 feet 2 inches of him. He glad-handing leaders throughout two major economic summits, flattered the assembled heads of state and took in cultural events, like musical performances and dances.
And the leaders swooned. In Japan, Mr. Trump played golf with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who gave him a hat that said “Donald & Shinzo, make alliance even greater.” The PM even served Mr. Trump a cheeseburger for lunch, made with U.S. beef.
“I believe that there has never been such close bonds intimately connecting the leaders of both nations as we do now in the history of Japan-U.S. alliance of more than half a century,” Mr. Abe said.
On his next stop in South Korea, Mr. Trump was greeted by thousands of children waving U.S. flags in an extravagant welcoming ceremony. In less than one year, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said, “you are already making great progress on making America great again, as you have promised on the campaign trail.”
In Seoul, Mr. Trump got South Korea’s back when he warned its neighbor to the north to step off. Mr. Trump said any attack on the United States or its allies would be a “fatal miscalculation” and even spoke directly to Kim Jong-un, saying: “North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.”
In Vietnam for another Asian summit, Mr. Trump said he would help arbitrate the South China Sea dispute, and again made his case for “fair and reciprocal” trade between the U.S. and Asian nations. In the Philippines, strongman President Rodrigo Duterte sang Mr. Trump a love song that included the words: “You are the light in my world, a half of this heart is mine.”
Talk about a big smooch.
Meanwhile, the U.S. media tried to play “gotcha’” throughout the trip. Most egregiously, CNN edited a video to make it look like Mr. Trump — the boorish and impatient American — dumped a whole bowl of fish food into a pond while feeding goldfish with Mr. Abe. In fact, Mr. Abe had done the exact same things seconds before.
And when Mr. Trump was part of an awkward handshake in Manila with foreign leaders, The Washington Post and other outlets used a photo that made Trump look foolish — with The Post saying it was “revenge” for the White House keeping photographers out of another event.
In the end, Mr. Trump’s trip to Asia was a surprising success. He stayed on message, has a polite guest, and listened intently to the concerns of the other leaders.
But you wouldn’t know that if you’re only source of news is the mainstream media.
• Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.
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