Orbs and Swords: Trumps Wacky Weekend In Saudi Arabia
This past Friday, President Donald Trump embarked on the first international trip of his administration, a whirlwind tour of the Middle East and Europe that began in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Trump heralded the trip as the first visit of a non-Muslim U.S. President to an Islamic nation in over a decade. However, in private conversations, White House aides have admitted that the countries close interior design resemblance to Mar-A- Lago was perhaps the most important factor in easing the president into foreign travel.
On the agenda for Trump was securing a multi-billion-dollar arms deal, delivering a keynote address on terrorism in the Islamic world, and working to develop a more free and open internet in the kingdom — because of internet pornography filters in the devoutly Muslim nation, googling “cuck” just results in a lot of 4chan memes about Jared Kushner, something the administration is desperately trying to correct.
Anxieties were high ahead of the trip, with many worrying that the notoriously freewheeling Trump would accidentally offend the deeply religious and notoriously conservative Saudis. Initial plans to present gifts to the royal children had to be scrapped after Ivanka Trump proposed providing the kids with “Draw Muhammad” coloring books. Unfortunately for Trump, Sheriff David Clarke has not yet officially joined the administration, as his uniform replete with pieces of flair would have meshed nicely with Gulf monarchs in attendance.
Other members of Trump’s delegation felt right at home in Saudi Arabia, with Steve Bannon reportedly expressing great relief that he would finally have a receptive audience for his litany of complaints about Kushner and Steve Mnuchin. Sources close to administration reported that Trump himself was initially uncomfortable in Saudi Arabia, but grew closer to his hosts as he learned more about their long history of appointing their adult children to important positions in government.
Although Saudi society is thoroughly dominated by men, Trump’s visit went over astoundingly well with Saudi women. Ivanka made a phenomenal deal with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to secure $100 million in funding for female entrepreneurs, which will allow them to quickly develop technology for much needed driverless cars.
Perhaps no part of the trip created more anxiety than Trump’s speech on Islam and terrorism. Trump’s highly anticipated speech was largely written by Stephen Miller — one of Trump’s more hardline advisers whose policies are as regressive as his hairline — with inputs from National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster. Writing credits will also likely be given to anyone who has edited the Wikipedia page “Islam” in the last six months.
Critics of Trump warned that the speech was likely to inflame tensions between the United States and the Muslim world, however, the address was largely free of the anti-Islamic rhetoric Trump was known for on the campaign trail. Trump praised the audience for the 25% of 9/11 hi-jackers that did not originate in Saudi Arabia, and lauded the country for moving away from Sharia law and towards the much more palatable Wasabism. He also called out Sayyid Qutb as somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more. The measured tone of the speech was deeply confusing to many of the Saudis in attendance who were left wondering “When is he going to address the size of Marco Rubio’s penis?” and “He hasn’t mentioned Jeb Bush once, why isn’t he playing the old hits?”
While political pundits applauded the speech as Trump’s most presidential behavior since deciding to launch cruise missiles into Syria, the speech is likely to fall flat with his committed base of midwestern conservatives who don’t know what a Sikh is but know they don’t like ‘em. Troops currently stationed in Iraq and Syria have expressed disappointment that Trump did not use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” the safe word that would finally bring them home and end war in the Middle East.
Trump’s speech showed not only a softening of his rhetoric surrounding Islam, but it was also a departure from the conversational, populist style that made him a must-watch attraction on the campaign trail. Voters elected Trump because he was the candidate who was not afraid to make fun of Rand Paul’s hair, not because he could read a bunch of Heritage Foundation talking points off a teleprompter.
Luckily for Trump, his international tour is far from over, and he still has a number of visits to make in Europe. This is the perfect opportunity for Trump to get away from boring discussions that only interest Paul Wolfowitz, like exactly how many civilian Yemeni casualties are acceptable and whether Raytheon or Lockheed makes weapons interfaces that are easier for severely inbred Gulf monarchs to use, and move onto things that his voters care about, like exactly how bangable is Angela Merkel?