Last week’s break, coupled with being snowed in for a few days, was a welcome distraction from the three-ring circus that is the White House. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
When the news cycle had regained my focus, I was greeted by faux pas during the Irish Prime Minister’s annual trip to the White House on St. Patrick’s Day. At his breakfast with Prime Minister Enda Kenny, Vice President Mike Pence greeted everyone by saying “top of the morning,” according to The Washington Post.
Later in the day, House Speaker Paul Ryan — a man who identifies as Irish-American — had this to say in regard to President Trump, according to The Washington Post.
“Americans, especially American Irish, are always trying to endear ourselves to the Irish. Think about it. We went from a president who plays a lot of golf to a president who owns a lot of golf courses. That is about the closest thing you can get to royalty in Ireland.”
This left many to wonder if Ryan actually thinks golf was invented in Ireland. Despite the historical inaccuracy and mildly-offensive gestures from the White House, the St. Patty’s Day celebration was topped by other embarrassing gaffs with our European allies.
Then came Trump’s refusal to shake hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel’s visit to the United States was expected to be contentious, as the two leaders had exchanged jabs in the past. But the awkward tension quickly devolved into a downright cringeworthy scene.
Merkel pressed Trump, “Shall we have a handshake?” according to the NYT. Trump ignored the question, and further ignored more inquiries from reporters.
But all of this was topped by Trump’s refusal to apologize about his assertion that former President Barack Obama had enlisted a British intelligence agency to spy on him during his campaign. This claim came on the heels of earlier assertions from Trump that Obama had ordered his phones tapped in late 2016. British officials expected an apology, and were assured the White House would no longer repeat the claims, but Trump was defiant.
“We said nothing,” Trump said according to the NYT. “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it.”
That “very talented legal mind” happened to be Andrew Napolitano in a Fox News commentary. Trump then absolved himself of any blame, saying that questions should be directed at Fox News, which has already run a retraction of the unsubstantiated claim.
“It illustrates the extent to which the White House really doesn’t care what damage they do to crucial relationships in order to avoid admitting their dishonesty,” said Kori Schake said, a former national security aide to former President George W. Bush, according to the NYT. “America’s allies are having to protect themselves against being tarred with the White House’s mendacity.”
The scary part is, these are some of the United States’ closest allies, and our president cannot, or refuses, to swallow his pride. It’s funny how a man whose campaign was fueled by a notion that America was the laughing stock of the world has made it, and its citizens, just that in a matter of months.
Oh, and just a reminder. All the gaffes listed above happened on one day.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and are not representative of The Slate or its staff as a whole.