Gage Skidmore / Flickr trump leaning...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Donald Trump’s political philosophy can be summed up by four words: What would Obama hate? With an antipathy that predates—but was certainly reinforced by—President Obama making sport of Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, predicting Trump’s response in any situation could not be any simpler if he was wearing a gaudy golden ‘WWOH’ bracelet below one diminutive hand. And since Barack Obama, though far from perfect, generally set out to institute the most thoughtful, humane, and productive policy, this puts Trump in the position of constantly making decisions that are pointlessly reactive, cruel, and destructive.

That there is a ready base for someone whose entire position is reversing whatever the nation’s first black president did, doesn’t speak well of Trump or the nation.

Having such a clear moral compass, from which he can always read the wrong end of the needle, means that persuading Trump to alter any position is even less productive than reasoning with a toddler.

Some of the efforts to dissuade Trump from withdrawing actually had the reverse effect, further entrenching his original position. When Trump heard advocates arguing that the era of coal was coming to an end — something Cohn told reporters on last week’s foreign trip and also a frequent talking point by some cable news pundits — Trump only became more adamant that pulling out of the Paris pact could help rescue the U.S. coal industry, said a Republican operative in close contact with the White House.

It won’t, of course. There are no coal jobs to save. The vast majority of coal jobs went away decades ago as the industry replaced human labor with automation. The dwindling number that remain are dropping irretrievably in the face of lower prices from natural gas, wind, and solar.

But Trump doesn’t reason like an adult. In fact, Trump doesn’t reason. He doesn’t have to. He only has to check that bracelet … W. W. O. H.

And if Trump has to betray his own child in the process of offending Obama, that’s not an issue.

Ivanka Trump … helped lead the effort to stay in the deal. In meetings, she argued that withdrawing could hurt the United States’ global image and weaken its moral authority abroad. She and her allies pushed the case that the president would have more leverage if he remained part of the agreement and negotiated from within.

In opposition, Steve Bannon showed that he understood Trump’s motivations and core far, far better than his own daughter.

The opposing camp, however, dismissed the substance of her appeal, brushing off her concerns as a hand-wringing question: “What will the world think of us?”

Are you a wimp, Donald? Because they’re saying you’re a wimp. Obama says you don’t have the guts to pull out of this agreement.

Anyone trying to motivate Trump by providing him with facts is so far off base they’re not in the game. His motivations are much, much simpler.

Pressure from leaders abroad also backfired. One senior White House official characterized disappointing European allies as “a secondary benefit” of Trump’s decision to withdraw.

Offending the world is Trump’s idea of a benefit. It’s going to damage the environment. Yawn. It’s going to cost the country jobs. So what? It’s going to offend world leaders. Let’s do it!

Those world leaders don’t understand who they’re dealing with … though they’re beginning to get it.

Merkel, who might be the ­second-most powerful leader in the world after Trump, also pressed a moral-based argument, according to one official who was in the room. If the United States pulled out, what would be the message to countries in Africa that could suffer most from global warming and nations like Fiji that are drowning under rising sea levels? …

But Trump seemed unmoved by any of the appeals …

Trump really could change. He could go in a completely different direction. There’s room for a What Would Merkel Hate bracelet on the other wrist.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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