by Thomas Valentine
G7 summed up in one photo. pic.twitter.com/TLv1wr6xrW
— Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) June 9, 2018
The above photo of President Trump surrounded by scowling world leaders at the G7 summit is already iconic. And more than that: it’s quickly becoming an important test of who understands the reasons Trump won in 2016 — and who doesn’t. It is, as CNN’s Chris Cillizza put it, a Rorschach test for attitudes towards Trump.
To the media and political elites, it’s a damning piece of evidence of how Trump has tarnished America’s reputation and how the President’s “America First,” go-it-alone strategy is hurting our relationships around the world. For them, it’s an indictment of his rejection of the current world order.
However, to Trump’s supporters, and also I suspect to some who don’t necessarily like him but understand his appeal, it’s evidence that America is finally standing up for itself after eight years of a president who apologized for America around the world.
To use a cliché, the image really does speak a thousand words. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the most powerful figures in Europe, looks like she could blow up at any second. French President Emmanuel Macron looks like he’s lecturing Trump. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks exasperatedly at the other leaders as if to say, “It’s no use.” All the while Trump smirks, sitting stubbornly with arms folded.
National Security Advisor John Bolton captioned the photo this way:
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) June 9, 2018
While coastal elites wring their hands at how President Trump is conducting himself on the world stage, the rest of the country cheers. People voted for Trump in 2016 because globalism has left them behind. They’ve seen good-paying jobs vanish and heroin fill the void. As factories have closed, small towns have been dying. Cities in the Acela corridor and the West Coast have done just fine, becoming richer than ever. But the heartland is suffering. Those people are tired of being pushed around by other countries. And they wanted a president who would stand up for them.
If the media and political elites can’t see why this picture is a refreshing positive for many Americans, they still don’t understand why Trump won in 2016 — and it’s clear at this point they’re not even trying.