As I’ve explained – somewhat contrary to what seems to be the received wisdom – I don’t think this went well for Trump. The presidential visuals were definitely good. Pena Nieto was passive and even obsequious. But the key in my mind is that Trump refused to discuss who would pay for the Trump Wall, a centerpiece of Trump’s whole campaign. I think that will continue to be a telling moment well after the visuals have subsided. I will stick with that interpretation. But there’s another part of the equation: the blowback for Pena Nieto in Mexico.
As we noted earlier, the Mexican President was the target of massive blowback in Mexico even in advance of the meeting, simply for agreeing to host Trump. One thing I was certainly wrong about was thinking that this would pressure Pena Nieto to stand up to Trump as away to defend his invitation or buoy his own terrible poll numbers at the hated Trump’s expense. He certainly made some meek references to how illegal immigration into the US had declined in recent years and said he understood that Mexicans had been offended by Trump. But by and large he really didn’t push back at all. I definitely whiffed that one.
The reaction I’ve seen so far in the Mexican press has been scathing. I was curious to hear from some of our readers who either live in Mexican or follow Mexican political affairs professionally. So here we go …
From TPM Reader DW …
I always read your columns with interest. However, I think its worth pointing out from the Mexican point of view, the press conference was a complete humiliation of Pena Nieto by Trump. Trump controlled the agenda, EPN didn’t protest, didn’t make any challenges to Trump’s past outrageous statements. He let Trump get away with saying — in the official residence, in Mexico City — that he will build the wall, without pushback (forget about who is going to pay for it). Agreed with Trump on renegotiating NAFTA.
As Mexican TV commentator and columnist Carlos Loret de Mola tweeted, “Trump can go home in tranquility. He has consummated [EPN’s] humiliation.” (my translation)
BTW, I’ve followed Mexican public affairs from a financial markets point of view for the past 25 years, and I think I have a pretty good handle on the comentocracy.
And TPM Reader DJ …
As someone who has spent considerable time in Mexico and has been an on-again, off-again observer of the Mexican political scene, I feel comfortable in making this prediction about Pena Nieto’s reception of Trump: It’s a bloody freaking disaster of the first magnitude. I cannot imagine a greater sin than kowtowing to American imperialism. It’s like a Mexican saying they wish they could time travel to the 19th century, to suck James Polk’s cock.
One of the most important monuments in Mexico City is for the child heroes, the military cadets who resisted the American invasion, wrapping themselves in the Mexican flag and jumping to their death rather than be captured by the Americans. Pena Nieto just took a giant whiz on this monument. While wrapped in an American flag.
Pena Nieto was unpopular anyway. Now everyone, all across the political spectrum, will be recoiling in horror and disgust.
A flaming act of political suicide. Stunning.