As Donald Trump prepares for his first international world tour, foreign leaders brace themselves for what could easily become a political version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, in which everything Trump says is made up and his talking points don’t matter. Fortunately, there won’t be too much guesswork involved as several ambassadors—and other foreign leaders who have already had the dubious pleasure of meeting with Trump—have noticed a few key themes from their Trump dealings.
According to a recent NYT report, certain rules for best approaching Trump have emerged. Foreign embassies in D.C. have sent several tips back to their heads of state detailing how best to handle such an erratic and volatile figurehead. The rules feel similar to how one might handle an attention-deficit child prone to tantrums, but such is the state of American politics.
The rules essentially boil down to: Don’t expect Trump to know anything about your country, pepper the man with compliments—especially how well he’s doing in comparison to his predecessor—and, above all, keep the presentation short. Also, Trump wants to win, so anyway you can make him think he has is a plus.
Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States, explains his approach as such:
If you were prepping people for Donald Trump, the two or three points would be: one, bear in mind this is still a guy who focuses on wins. He likes to have wins for America and wins for himself from bilateral meetings. Secondly, he is a deal maker, a pragmatist. Third, this is a guy with a limited attention span. He absolutely won’t want to listen to visitors droning on for a half-hour — or longer if they need an interpreter.
Inspiring stuff, to be sure.
These rules become even more important when you realize Trump unsuccessfully tried to shorten his trip abroad from nine days down to five. Evidently, Trump was feeling “dread” over the length of the trip. By the end of this thing, Trump is going to be quite surly and desperate for a couple dozen rounds of golf. Or at least more so than is typical of the most unfairly-treated president in history.