Americans tire of their presidents. Conventional wisdom says we tend to replace the guy we’re tired of with his opposite. Going from Barack Obama to Donald Trump certainly required a leap, but the two are far from opposites.
Obama was a big talker with no leadership experience and no proven skills other than self-promotion. Trump, too, arrived with a light resume, unless parlaying a stack of daddy bucks into multiple bankruptcies counts as achievement.
Trump recently choked on the phrase “white supremacist” after one killed a woman in Charlottesville, though he often mocked his predecessor for choking on the phrase “Islamic terrorist.”
When Obama tossed a casual bluff concerning “red lines” and chemical weapons at Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who called him on it, America’s credibility nosedived.
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Enter Trump. In January he reacted to North Korean boasts of nukes capable of reaching the U.S.: “It won’t happen!”
Kim Jong-un has since tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles and a hydrogen bomb, suffering no ill effects. If Kim and his autocratic ilk come to believe that bluffs are all America has left, the theory will not go untested.