TURNBERRY, Scotland -- Arriving here Friday for his first trip abroad as the likely Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump did not seem to understand the gravity of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.I don't think this will hurt him. Help him? No, it won't help him either -- but I think it's a wash. His poll numbers went down after he spent days attacking the judge in the Trump University case. I don't believe this will have a similar effect.
As the value of the pound collapsed in the morning and stock markets around the globe plummeted, Trump attended a surreal ribbon-cutting at his luxury golf resort in this seacoast village and barely mentioned the global news until reporters pressed him to do so....
He landed by helicopter, sporting a white cap bearing his presidential campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” The theme was tweaked on red caps worn by resort staffers: “Make Turnberry Great Again.” At a news conference later, Trump stood in front of a bagpiper and continued to speak after a prankster threw several dozen red golf balls bearing swastikas onto the grass.
As reporters pressed him on the referendum to leave the E.U. known as Brexit, Trump declared the vote “fantastic” and “great” because it reflected the anger of voters -- even though Scots voted overwhelmingly to remain....
“I think it’s a great thing that happened,” Trump told reporters shortly after his helicopter landed. “People are angry, all over the world. People, they’re angry.”
If you like Trump, or at least find him somewhat appealing, you probably liked this press conference. It was the distilled essence of his campaign message: I am a businessman who builds things. I think people are fed up with the status quo, which is about to change for the better.
I know, I know: The golf course he built is an abject failure:
Trump has ... reported to Scottish authorities that he lost millions of dollars on the project -- even as he claims on U.S. presidential disclosure forms that the course has been highly profitable.But Americans, or approximately half of them, love this sort of rah-rah business boosterism. They really believe that Trump is the greatest businessman in the country. They really believe he's as rich as he says he is. And they've been told for decades, going back at least to the Reagan era, that the cure for all economic ills is guys in expensive suits creating jobs out of the goodness of their hearts, because that's what capitalism is.
Trump’s original plan: ... The project would pump millions of dollars into the local economy and create 6,000 jobs -- maybe even 7,000 jobs, Trump said at one news conference....
Today, the Trump International Golf Links near Aberdeen employs 150 people.... Lonely and desolate, the resort has attracted no major tournaments, and neighbors say the parking lot is rarely, if ever, full.
So Trump embodied that yesterday even as he embodied the other widespread view of business in America, namely that fat cats -- other fat cats, not Trump -- have made a mess of America and the world, primarily through globalism and lack of respect for white people. Oddly, an American building a golf course in Scotland isn't regarded as globalism by Trumpites, or maybe they see it as globalism going in the right direction, i.e., us doing stuff to them. (Scots are white too, but they're foreign.)
Trump was criticized for not making a statement reflecting the seriousness of the situation in Britain. But what he did instead was really hammer away at phrases that strike a nerve with his base:
People want to take their country back. They want to have independence, in a sense, and you see it with Europe, all over Europe. You're going to have more than just -- in my opinion, more than what happened last night, you're going to have, I think many other cases where they want to take their borders back. They want to take their monetary back.Over and over and over again. I'm sorry, but that's all some voters want to hear. They don't want to hear a well-informed candidate make an unemotional statement of concern combined with reassurance. They think people who make statments like that in situations like this are the people who've ruined everything in the world.
They want to take a lot of things back. They want to be able to have a country again. So, I think you're going have this happen more and more. I really believe that, and I think it's happening in the United States....
But I really do see a parallel between what's happening in the United States and what's happening here. People want to see borders. They don't necessarily want people pouring into their country that they don't know who they are and where they come from. They have no idea.
... again, I think that's what's happening in the United States.... It's a really positive force taking place. They want to take their country back. The people want their country back. We don't want to lose our jobs, we don't want to lose our borders.
... You're taking your country back, you're going to let people that you want into your country, and people that you don't want, or people that you don't think are going to be appropriate for your country, or good for your country, you're not going to have to take.
I'm not saying that the people who responded well to Trump are a majority of American voters. I'm just saying that if you like the sort of thing Trump regularly does, then you probably liked what he did yesterday. If not, not.
Bonus: He was accused of being a Nazi. The fact that he's hated in that way is a mark of virtue for his fans.