Theresa May tame Trump? Much has been made of this tremendous task she has ahead of her ever since we heard she was about to cross the pond to meet the White House’s new maverick.
The idea that we could be about to witness an ideological David and Goliath contest frankly made the mind boggle. Some of our illustrious commentators who have been adjuring her to tackle Trump, I fear, must have had a sense of humour bypass or are suffering from serious lack of imagination syndrome.
The Brits (or some of them) can be terribly sanctimonious snobs. Disapproval of Donald has reached epidemic proportions and distorted any sense of reality, afflicting Right as well as Left. Some have taken heart from Theresa’s daring declaration that she “won’t be afraid” to tell Donald Trump if he says or does anything she feels is “unacceptable”.
Go for it, I hear their cry. No please don’t. Don’t listen to them, Mrs May. I hope you’ve left you shopping list of reprimands and policies to tick him off about behind. Just listen to what Team Trump has to say. Hard.
Even were Mrs May to carry out her threat it would be water off a duck’s back – if he noticed. If the combined cross continental media backlash at his inauguration didn’t quell him – it didn’t – he’s hit the ground running since with executive orders (from his ‘build a wall’ right through trade to his ‘drain the swamp’ campaign commitments). It’s unlikely that the ‘mandateless’ Mrs May (however great and special Britain is) can cow him.
Is Mr Trump, an international businessman and millionaire, who just rolled through apparently unwinnable Democratic states and prepared to break every rule in the political book, the sort of man to be put in his place by a purse-lipped, disapproving secondary school headmistress? – which is rather what Mrs May looked like in conversation with Mr Marr. In the BBC’s dreams, I’d say.
The sooner May abandons that tack and the sooner she seeks out Kellyanne Conway, the only woman to succeed in the Trump taming stakes to date, on the best way to ‘handle’ him, the better. Handle is the operative word. Start with finding what they do have in common – workaholism maybe? Not drinking? Maybe Phil plays golf?
What isn’t on is to go in, egged on by her backing group of female spads, in full Major Barbara form. Modern day feminism and outrage is unlikely to go down any better than did the high minded charity of George Bernard Shaw’s Salvation Army heroine.
Yes, that’s what sprang to mind as I pictured the upcoming Trump-May meeting.
I can all too easily see Mrs May as a latter day feminist Major Barbara and Donald Trump as Andrew Undershaft, Major Barbara’s wealthy munitions manufacturer father. The parallel is obvious. Undershaft wins. Major Barbara’s moral vanity is exposed.
Remember when Undershaft donates his ‘tainted’ wealth to the Salvation Army, so outraged by it is Major Barbara that indignantly she mounts the moral high ground. At which her father berates her for making for herself, “… something that you call a morality or a religion or what not. It doesn’t fit the facts. Well, scrap it. Scrap it and get one that does fit. That is what is wrong with the world at present. It scraps its obsolete steam engines and dynamos; but it won’t scrap its old prejudices and its old moralities and its old religions and its old political constitutions. What’s the result? In machinery it does very well; but in morals and religion and politics it is working at a loss that brings it nearer bankruptcy every year.”
Read for morality and religion, feminism and contemporary Left liberal orthodoxies and sacred cows – the new religion of the bien pensant. Trump is trampling over the lot. He is primed to shock.
Mrs May has made a good start with her defence of liberty and freedom speech to the Republicans. But the British media, led by the high and mighty BBC, is not going to like her ‘tacking’ right. Nor will they let up on the ‘values’ she should be projecting. How will the vicar’s daughter deal with torture as well as the reality TV star, the BBC will continue to keep needling her.
Laura Kuenssberg opined last night that she’ll have to tiptoe across a tightrope. No she won’t. Not if she accepts liberal Left ideology does not fit the facts and that this is what Donald Trump has made his quest to address. Understand that and she’ll have no problem speaking her mind or in winning his respect for her honesty, if not for her charisma.
For Mr Trump like Mr Undershaft for all his vulgarity will do more to help society by giving men jobs and a steady income than Mrs May’s government will by passing ever more equalities legislation. For that, as I am sure Trump understands, only makes ever more people ever more dependent on State charity. Once Theresa gets that she won’t need to navigate the BBC’s modern morality tightrope. She can chuck it down the gorge.