Just last month, a prominent British politician went so far as to insist President Obama is “anti-British” on a historic scale. Indeed, Nigel Farage complained Obama “is the most anti-British American president there has ever been.”
It was one of the stranger criticisms of the president we’ve heard of late. For one thing, George Washington and James Madison actually waged wars against the U.K., so history doesn’t appear to be on Nigel Farage side. For another, by all appearances, Obama has taken care to preserve the “special relationship” and sees the British as unshakable allies.
But for those who remain concerned about the future of U.S.-U.K. ties, now would be an excellent time to appreciate a simple detail: While President Obama is not a problem; his demagogic possible successor may be.
Donald Trump has hit back at criticism from Britain’s leaders by describing himself in an interview with Piers Morgan as “not stupid” and a “unifier.”The presumptive Republican nominee made the comments to Good Morning Britain, the breakfast show of NBC News’ U.K. partner ITV.
The trouble appears to have begun with British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was asked to respond to Trump’s anti-Muslim proposals. Cameron, understandably, said precisely what many Americans have said: Trump’s ideas are “divisive, stupid, and wrong.” Soon after, London Mayor Sadiq Khan characterized Trump’s views, quite fairly, as “ignorant, divisive, and dangerous.”
Trump wasn’t pleased. In reference to Cameron, the presumptive Republican nominee said, “It looks like we’re not going to have a very good relationship.” He added, “I’m not stupid, okay? I can tell you that right now. Just the opposite.”
As for Khan’s comments about Trump’s ignorance, the GPO candidate responded, “Let’s take an I.Q. test.”
It’s tempting to try to explain to Trump that I.Q. tests don’t measure knowledge or ignorance, which means his retort was effectively gibberish, but I’m reasonably certain he wouldn’t understand the explanation.
Nevertheless, we’re left with a fascinating dynamic: Republicans are poised to nominate a presidential candidate who doesn’t think he can get along with Britain’s conservative prime minister, but who’s confident he can get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
I’ll look forward to Nigel Farage’s reaction.