News & Politics

Charles Blow: The World May Never Trust the U.S. Again

Donald Trump has already done irreparable damage to our reputation abroad.

Photo Credit: Youtube Screencap / CNN

Donald Trump lies because he knows no one will stop him. In a private fundraising dinner earlier this month, he bragged to supporters about deceiving Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his country's trade surplus with the United States: "I said, ‘Wrong, Justin, you do.’ I didn’t even know…I had no idea," America's president boasted, "I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’ ”

The worst part, Charles Blow writes in his Monday column, is that, "Trump did what Trump does: Repeats the lie, louder, stronger, and more stridently."

The president tweeted, “We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada, as we do with almost all countries (some of them massive). P.M. Justin Trudeau of Canada, a very good guy, doesn’t like saying that Canada has a Surplus vs. the U.S. (negotiating), but they do … they almost all do … and that’s how I know!”

Never mind that Trump was caught on record telling funders he lied to one of our closest allies. Blow cites Politifact's fact check of the statement, but it almost doesn't matter. No amount of facts, figures, citations or proof will prevent the president from spreading his falsehoods.

Blow, like so many Americans, knows that the president is a liar. It bears repeating as often as possible, so we don't become inured to it. Still, he continues, "there is something about the nakedness of this confession, the brazenness of it, the cavalier-ness, that still has the ability to shock."

"First," Blow writes, "why does the president of the United States not know whether we have a trade surplus or deficit with Canada? A pillar of his campaign was to renegotiate NAFTA. Surely he understood the basic fundamentals before making wild accusations and unrealistic promises, right? Wrong." 

Trump's performance at the fundraising dinner, "suggested that he was somehow overpowering and outmaneuvering Trudeau, free to best him because he was unencumbered by an allegiance to the truth."

Unfortunately for Trump, "the story makes him look small and ignorant and unprincipled. Lying to your friends and then bragging behind their backs that you lied to them is the quickest way to poison a friendship." 

For those who wonder whether this is a lot of fuss over one trade-related brag, Blow points to a June 2017 report from Pew Charitable Trust that notes, "Although he has only been in office a few months, Donald Trump’s presidency has had a major impact on how the world sees the United States. Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined steeply in many nations.”

The world is watching, and that includes the world's children, some of whom Blow believes "will register him as their first American president. How will they regard this absence from world leadership that Trump is enacting? Will they grow up repulsed by it? Most hopefully will. But there will undoubtedly be others that draw a different lesson from the Trump philosophy: Create your own reality; populate it with 'facts' of your own creation; use lying as a tactic; remember that strict adherence to truth is a moral barrier and morality is a burden."

"We have no idea just how damaged the American brand has become under Trump," the New York Times columnist warns. The damage he's done will take far more than a fact check, or even an election, to fix. 

Read the entire column

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Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.