An Ostrich Prepares to Lash Out

Every week I do an hour long programme for American radio. The purpose is to try to explain what the rest of the world is thinking about America and what is happening in the world which should be of interest to Americans.

The format takes the form of a discussion between myself—an avowed liberal expat—and an old school friend, Lockwood Phillips, who is a staunch Trump supporter. Not surprisingly, the mix leads to some lively discussions. This week was especially so.

Actually, it was the off-air discourse that was at times off-colour and even more interesting was the exchange of emails that preceded this week’s broadcast.

Every Tuesday I send Lockwood a list of discussion topics. He sometimes adds one or two ideas. Wednesdays are spent researching in preparation for going on the radio Wednesday evening. This week my Tuesday email was mainly a list of topics which started with the words “world reaction to..” and ended with something involving Donald Trump—riots, George Floyd, G7, WHO, etcetera.

Lockwood dashed off a reply in cap letters saying the programme “IS NOT GOING TO BE ABOUT TRUMP”. Instead I should focus on the inadequacies and failures of the Europeans and collusion between the Chinese and WHO. I emailed back to him that the only real world news this week was the reaction to what is happening in America and to ignore this obvious fact was akin to playing the role of ostrich.

In the end, we did discuss all of the items on my list, but neither of us did a particularly good job. The undercurrent of ill will kept sweeping away important points of information which the radio audience deserves.

I should at this stage give a bit more background on Lockwood. He is incredibly knowledgeable about politics. He has been interviewing major American political figures on his radio show almost as long as I have been writing about international relations, and in my case, that has been half a century. So, I respect Lockwood’s knowledge base while disagreeing with the ideological conclusions he has reached from that base.

Lately, I have noticed that Lockwood has been increasingly reluctant to discuss the actions of the American president. At first I attributed this to a sign that he was becoming a shade disillusioned with the current tenant of the White House. But after this week I have come to the conclusion that it is more serious. Lockwood’s pride is at stake. And if Lockwood is having problems with his pride then rest assured that millions of other Trump supporters are facing the same difficulty with this important part of their psychological make up.

Trump has been exposed as the naked emperor with clay feet, foul mouth, tweet-twitchy fingers and soggy brain. Half (probably more than half) of the American population and a bigger chunk of the world population are shouting: “The Emperor has no clothes.” But the other half are either closing their eyes, turning their backs and stuffing their ears. Some are even ignoring the evidence of their own eyes and shouting back: “Oh yes he does, and he looks splendid.”

Trump supporters have invested so much of themselves in the success of Donald Trump that his failure threatens them more than the success of his disastrous policies. Trump supporters are not so much doubling down as circling the wagons and digging in. Their credibility is in danger and that is dangerous for everyone else. When a person is backed into a corner their animal instinct is not to gracefully capitulate. It is to blindly lash out with scant regard of the danger to themselves or their opponents.

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and the author of “The Encyclopedia of the Cold War” and the recently published “America Made in Britain” that has sold out in the US after six weeks but is still available in the UK.

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