A plea from an American in Africa to Donald Trump to stop. Just stop.
You are supposed to be prepping furiously for the G20 meeting in Hamburg, a gathering that will include a one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin, but one that doesn’t involve kissing him on the hands and thanking him for giving you the election through all those contemptible dirty tricks they pulled off.
Right now, instead of your bizarre, stupid war with the hosts of the MSNBC political chit-chat show, Morning Joe, you should be contemplating the enormous impact adults can have on the world by learning about someone like the late Helmut Kohl. Kohl’s place in history has been assured by leading the peaceful integration of East Germany into Germany and the EU, around the time of the fall of the Soviet Union’s Eastern European empire.
Now, if your weak attention span prohibits you from actually reading history that doesn’t come from the publisher as a comic book, at the very least get someone to read to you last week’s obituary in The Economist of Helmut Kohl. You may learn something about leadership. It’s only one page, although there are some big words in it.
Now, while you are contemplating the place in history of real leaders, spend some quality time thinking about how to rein in the Saudis (for the sake of a major US base in Qatar, if not something like regional stability). Or maybe you can worry for a few minutes about how best to address the humanitarian crisis in Mosul; the growing political, humanitarian and economic meltdown in Caracas; the continuing catastrophe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election (and some of your political allies’ entanglement in this sordid mess), and how it has irrevocably stained the national political process.
And, of course, there is your demonstrated inability to focus on the nation’s business (in Congress or elsewhere) for longer than the 30-nanosecond burst it takes to fire off yet another misspelt, ungrammatical tweet to the baying crowds.
But, instead of paying attention to your real job, one for which you get the YUGE White-painted House, a helicopter, all those Secret Service people to drive you around, and that bodacious Air Force One jet, you are actually spending your – our, actually – time sending out inane, childish, embarrassing video clips of things like you wrestling with a man with CNN printed on his face.
Didn’t you have enough fun back in eighth grade, drawing stupid felt tip marker graffiti on your school’s lavatory walls? Don’t you care that your international reputation as a leader who can be trusted is now firmly in the toilet virtually everywhere on the planet save for Russia and Israel; that your ratings domestically on the “can lead the nation effectively” scale are similarly abysmal and continuing to crater, and that the only people who seem to be with you still without apology are those never-quit-always-believe Republican faithful who already drank your brand of Kool-Aid back in November 2016?
Failing that, we will be forced to send you to the assistant headmaster’s office to receive some well-deserved punishment to be inflicted upon your person (something, say, like being forced to spend the next few years in an actual library with real books without pictures in them and no electronic texting device allowed to you). Moreover, your parents are going to get a letter that says you must straighten up by tomorrow or you will be expelled from your place in class forthwith. DM
Spector settled in Johannesburg after a career as a US diplomat in Africa and East Asia. He has taught at the U. of the Witwatersrand, been a consultant for an international NGO, run a famous Johannesburg theatre and remains on its board, and been a commentator for South African and international print/broadcast/online media, in addition to writing for The Daily Maverick from day one. Post-retirement, Spector has also been a Bradlow Fellow of the SA Institute of International Affairs and a Writing Fellow of the University of Johannesburg’s Institute for Advanced Studies. Only half humourously, he says he learned everything he needs to know about politics from ‘Casablanca.’ Maybe he's increasingly cynical about some things, but a late Beethoven string quartet, John Coltrane’s music, and a dish of soto ayam (one of Indonesia's great culinary discoveries) will bring him close to tears.
The air quality from pollution on a cruise ship can at times be worse than the world's worst cities.