A few quick thoughts on the joint press conference between Mexican President Pena Nieto and Donald Trump. On balance, I think it was what I earlier today called the best possible outcome for Trump: “an uneventful and generally boring meeting or one in which Trump and Pena Nieto get into a spat or trade insults.” Obviously, this was option one.
A few thoughts.
First, Pena Nieto appeared quite ill at ease, even weak and accommodating of Trump. He even seemed to try to soften or apologize for Trump’s various attacks on Mexican people. Given the almost universal ridicule he faced for agreeing to meet with Trump, I’m incredibly curious to see the domestic fall out within Mexico.
Second, Trump seemed fairly normal in how he spoke.
Third is I think the big thing, what we’ll remember about this in a week and a month: given the opportunity, Trump didn’t even discuss who would pay for his border wall let alone demand that Mexico do so. I strongly suspect that will be the big takeaway for Trump and that it will not wear will. Trump’s line throughout this campaign has been that he’ll tell Mexico to pay for the wall and Mexico will. In a face to face meeting with the actual Mexican President, even one as pliant as this, he was unwilling to do so.
Trump’s brand is “dominance politics.” He’s toured the country for a year telling crowds that Mexico will pay. He’ll make them. And yet, when given the opportunity to sit down with the President of Mexico, he didn’t bring it up? There are words for that kind of person, just not words that are any longer acceptable today. For the moment Trump is the paradoxical beneficiary of “political correctness.”