27 JAN 2017

Trump: the first days

Kent Messenger Column - 27-01-17

The inauguration's over and here in the UK we must now get to grips with an 'America First' term of office. The trouble I'm having in assessing Mr Trump's true intentions is that it's tough to believe a word the man says, let alone whether or not I agree with him.

So-called 'fake news' has been the prevailing theme since November, stoking-up what the new President calls his 'war with the media', but is it? A media that is persistently discredited as dishonest could well persuade the American public to disbelieve accurate, but unhelpful, facts about the Trump administration in the months ahead. How we look for truth under Trump will therefore be an essential skillset for Americans and politicians around the world.

The wheels may well fall off the 'alternative truth' bandwagon though; within 24 hours of his inauguration a spat about how many people attended (or rather how few) has already shown Trump's administration to be dishonest and insincere. I think the public see that and whilst the issue itself was trivial, we are on notice.

A divisive inauguration speech was a campaign re-run, thus we now know that Donald the President will follow the same path as Donald the candidate. How that divisiveness translates into foreign policy is the ongoing concern.

Trump's cabinet also speaks reams, being the least diverse for decades, to the worry of global civil rights and equalities movements. His irreverent attitude toward women brought out a reported 2.2 million protesters around the world the day after the inauguration; not an auspicious start, but sadly not unexpected.

And policy is now speaking for him too; withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal means trade protectionism is already a reality, whilst withdrawing from the 2015 UN Climate Change agreement and reducing obligations within NATO remain unresolved threats. These are all serious issues for the UK and Trump's first 100 days will be critical.

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