Trump style turns spotlight on new US presidency

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President Donald Trump could be best described as a man under siege. As he battles fresh accusations of abetting racial hate, the U.S. leader is under fire for slurring the media and constricting the civil space.

The recent violence in Virginia yet again turned the spotlight on Mr. Trump and his administration. The chaos, partly ignited by a controversial plan to remove a statue of a confederate general, led to deadly clashes, destruction of property and deaths. Mr. Trump, as usual, waded into it with remarks that left a bitter taste in the mouths of civil groups and minorities.

In his characteristic style, the president took to Twitter to condemn the white supremacists behind the protests. But critics were quick to point out that the president did not mean what he had said and that the protests were held with his blessings.

This incident yet again exposed Mr. Trump’s soft underbelly. Long believed to be a racist, his “America first” policy continues to attract the ire of people, both inside the U.S. and outside who believe he is more of a racist than a national leader. Critics say the president has a silent policy to make America “white again and not great again.”

Some analysts say Mr. Trump’s leadership style is scaring away some of America’s traditional allies, especially Muslim nations. Moreover, they say because of Mr. Trump, the U.S. is gradually losing the competitive edge and the moral authority to be the world’s leader. But Mr. Trump’s backers differ with this view point. 

Of significance has been the various standpoints taken by people on either of the political divides. Is Mr. Trump aware of the U.S. foreign policy in the first place? Why is he glorifying Russia unnecessarily despite claims of meddling in the U.S. elections and do the rants on Twitter take the county forward? Besides, what does Mr. Trump gain from branding news stories he doesn’t agree with as “fake news”?

Professor O’Donnell of the University of St. Thomas attributes Mr. Trump’s perceived leadership failures to a poor communications strategy. “His tweets say nothing other than rants, resentments and boasts,” O’Donnell recently told the World Press Institute class of 2017.

Some policy experts also attribute conflicts over the delicate race relations in the U.S. and diplomacy goofs to Mr. Trump’s boisterous behavior. “Mr. Trump’s conceptualization of the ‘America first’ policy is misplaced and foreign experts are yet to understand him. It’s really an open question as to what kind of policy the [United States] will have on a variety of issues in the future,” says Mary Curtin, diplomat in Residence at the Humphrey School on Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

History is in the making and my trip to the United States could not have come at a better time.  Lots of things are happening and the news media, as usual, is abuzz with dramatic stories. It will be interesting to learn more about the new American presidency, the U.S. media and politics in the days to come.