More than one hundred days ago newspapers across the world reacted with shock and awe to the election of Donald Trump – but it wasn’t a noble kind of awe as reported in Time Magazine:
Spanish publication El Periódico printed the headline “God forgive America” in front of a gesturing Trump, while Britain’s the Guardian called the race “a brutal contest that has riven America.” Daily French newspaper Libération simply printed the word “Trumpocalypse”.
As foreign countries make their first assessment of President Donald Trump following these significant first one hundred days –the most striking response is the lack of almost any reaction at all. Mostly the international community has given Trump a colossal yawn.
Sure, there are a few stories here and there on the new American president; most notably news agencies across the world have chosen to focus on Trump’s Reuters interview, and his own assessment that being president was harder than he anticipated. News.com.au:
AS his 100 days in office approaches, Donald Trump has said he didn’t know being president would be as hard as it is.
Those who have made an independent evaluation are mostly negative. The British newspaper Telegraph focused on his falling approval rating:
In normal times, it takes American presidents hundreds of days before they reach a majority disapproval rating.
This has been the case for the last five presidents – with Bill Clinton being the previous record holder after taking 573 days to have more than 50 percent of Americans disapprove of his presidency.
But Donald Trump smashed this record after his victory on a wave of anti-establishment anger.
It took just eight days for him to gain a majority disapproval rating, according to Gallup, with 51 percent of Americans saying they disapproved of the President on 28 January 2016.
The Australian national news channel SBS concentrated on the Trump chaos theory. According to this narrative, The Donald came into office bold and naïve, but after a period of instant turmoil, and failure after failure, he has realized that things are not as easy as he once believed:
While the new US president has shown a capacity to change both his tone and his positions, Trump has struggled to convey a clearly articulated worldview.
As the symbolic milestone of his 100th day in power, which falls on Saturday, draws near, a cold, hard reality is setting in for the billionaire businessman who promised Americans he would “win, win, win” for them.
Taken at face value, these are quite damning comments. However, another picture emerges when viewed in context of what the international media said about Trump only a few months ago. There were open speculations about whether he was psychologically unfit to be president, accusations of being a Russian spy, “literally Hitler” and genuine fear that he would start World War III.
Considering the media cacophony about Trump earlier this year, adverse comments about his one hundred days as president are a significant improvement and issued in a softer, more sober tone.
What brought about this major change in the international media? Only in the last few weeks, Trump had a real chance of starting World War III – in Syria and North-Korea – and in both cases, he did not. Instead, he managed to prove himself as a decisive president, who is not afraid to use military intervention and even received international praise from many world leaders.
Trump also managed to destroy the Russian acolyte narrative, but at the same time did not seriously damage the U.S. diplomatic relationship with Putin – at least up to this point.
The new American president also accomplished what no other president had done before him: he persuaded China to wag a finger at North Korea. And all this without a single nuclear missile fired.
So, the commentaries around the globe might best be paraphrased as “ok, so he wasn’t Hitler or a Russian spy, but at least he hasn’t delivered on what he promised.” In four years, no one will remember the first hundred days, and that means President Trump has plenty of time to improve both his approval rating as well as his efficacy and legacy.