In today's article, Parker and Haberman say:
Normally when presidential contenders travel abroad, they do so to burnish their foreign policy credentials, cramming their schedules with high-level meetings with foreign dignitaries and opining on the pressing international issues of the day. But, to a large extent, Mr. Trump’s business interests still drive his behavior, and his schedule. He has planned two days in Scotland, with no meetings with government or political leaders scheduled.Everyone knows.... But I suspect Trump knows some things that other people don't know and has ideas about what he's doing that are not reflected in the itinerary. Maybe golfing and attending to business in Scotland is better political theater than hobnobbing with government and political leaders.
And despite the fact that Mr. Trump touches down in Britain the day after its “Brexit” vote on whether to leave the European Union, his itinerary — a helicopter landing at his luxury resort, a ceremonial ribbon cutting and family photo, and a news conference — reads like a public relations junket crossed with a golf vacation.
“Traditionally, nominees travel oversees during this period to brush up their foreign policy depth and visit 10 Downing Street and Israel — for politics back here,” said Scott W. Reed, senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Everyone knows this is the wrong thing for the nominee to be doing now, and it is amazing this can’t be stopped.”
Remember how the various characters Trump beat went to London?
A tour of London is becoming an unpleasant rite of passage for American politicians with presidential ambitions. Republican Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana traveled to the United Kingdom recently to try to burnish their foreign policy credentials. Next up is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is in London this week as his early-state polling numbers back home have started to tick up. They've all found that traveling across the pond can be more like sailing into a perfect storm.Trump isn't going to London, but to Scotland.
They've all found that traveling across the pond can be more like sailing into a perfect storm. For Christie, his troubles stemmed from a puzzlingly ambiguous comment about vaccinations that unleashed a firestorm of disapproval and quickly had the governor's aides scrambling to clarify his initial remarks. For Jindal, it was his condemnation of so-called "no-go" zones and "non-assimilation" of immigrants in Europe that had his critics agitated even after he was back on American soil.
Walker wasn't able to entirely escape controversy. He punted on a question about evolution on Wednesday, saying it's not a topic for politicians to discuss -- an answer that could revive scrutiny of how some Republicans interpret science.
Back to Parker and Haberman:
When Barack Obama headed to Europe as a presidential candidate in 2008, and Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, traveled to England, Israel and Poland during his campaign, both men went to demonstrate their global savvy and stature, in meticulously planned visits. (Mr. Romney’s trip, nonetheless, was a gaffe-ridden disaster and many of his aides later said they wished he had stayed home.)Why, oh why, did what worked for Obama not work for Mitt Romney? Once might say everybody knows European leaders don't like to be used as props to give Republicans the appearance of "global savvy and stature."
Showing up right after the Brexit vote, in the middle of a tumultuous time, is leaving Mr. Trump especially vulnerable to criticism, as well as creating the potential for an international blunder.How can he blunder if he has no political events on his itinerary? You can't have it both ways! Either his visit is Brexit connected or mere coincidence. You have to entertain the theory that he's doing some sort of political theater that's not yet clear. But points for revealing that you're rooting for him to commit an international blunder.
When asked about the vote in an interview this month with The Hollywood Reporter, Mr. Trump seemed not to be familiar with Britain’s referendum, first answering, “Huh?” and then, “Hmm.” Finally, after the Brexit vote was explained to him, Mr. Trump answered with his trademark decisiveness: “Oh yeah, I think they should leave,” he said, a sentiment he has since repeated. On Wednesday morning, however, Mr. Trump told Fox Business that his opinion on the issue was not significant since he had not followed it closely.Dumb or cagey. I'm thinking the pro-Brexit Brits know Trump's on their side and see that he's on their territory, territory they are intent on protecting from the insufficiently British hoards — sentiment that corresponds to Trump's signature issue back in the U.S.A.
Golfing is symbolic of the traditional in Scotland as the U.K. votes on embracing its traditional identity. So golfing — and attending to business — may be good political theater. You have to think about the optics, and what can be used against a Republican will be used. But I'm thinking these optics work for him.
And by the way... is Obama — who golfs more than any President — ever criticized for the bad optics? It takes quite a lot, but the answer is yes: