Donald Trump’s implicit appeal during the presidential campaign was his status as a complete outsider, a proverbial bull in a china shop who didn’t care if pearl clutching elites took to their fainting couches while he turned their Ivy League world upside down. Was he ignorant? Sure, maybe, but that’s what the country needed: someone with common sense who would just go ahead and do the right thing and not worry about smashing the crockery along the way.
But just as Theresa May and her fellow Brexiteers are learning that the real world is more complicated than they thought, Trump is learning that just because he doesn’t know something doesn’t mean it’s not important:
President Trump, who presented himself as a staunch supporter of Israel during last year’s campaign, took a harder line on settlements in an interview published on Friday and indicated that he was rethinking his promise to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem….Mr. Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, have been exploring an Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative that would enlist Arab allies, and a host of Arab leaders have told the new president that provocative pro-Israel positions would not help.
….“They don’t help the process,” Mr. Trump said of settlements in the Israel Hayom interview. “I can say that. There is so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left.” He added: “I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”
Imagine that. Trump and Kushner have talked to Arab leaders—for the first time ever, I imagine—and discovered that they have big issues with things like settlements and Jerusalem. It wasn’t just a bunch of milksop lefty nonsense after all. It was reality.
But this lesson still hasn’t filtered down to his UN ambassador:
US rejects UNSG intention to appoint Palestinian PM in Libya mission – Amb @nikkihaley Statement here pic.twitter.com/V771cCrkUa
— Nabil Abi Saab (@NabilAbiSaab) February 11, 2017
This is all very Trumpish: Obama coddled the Palestinians, therefore we don’t like them and oppose their appointment to anything. As it turns out, a moment’s worth of consultation would have informed Haley that Salam Fayyad is widely respected, including within Israel. He’s long been a moderate, anti-Hamas, anti-corruption voice in the Palestinian Authority, and he was appointed to the Libya mission by a newly installed UN chief who is notably more sympathetic to Israel than his predecessors. The “signal” his appointment sent was a very pro-Western one.
But once again, bumper stickers won the day.