Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
The news out of Washington today may appear to be that the President is willing to actually “make a deal” on immigration reform. The next week or so will demonstrate if Trump is actually prepared to compromise, especially on the issue of the “wall” in exchange for reinstatement of the DACA program. The key global message, however, was the announcement that President Trump intends to go to the World Economic Forum in Davos in the middle of January.
The last president to attend the summit was President Clinton in 2000 after the impeachment process had ended. Trump’s decision to go to Davos now opens up a number of curious and interesting scenarios. He will be addressing many of the world’s leading economic leaders as well as heads of state. Before an audience of some of his presumed former friends in his private life, Trump’s actions and behavior will be scrutinized not only by the media, but by all the world’s economic movers and shakers. Particularly, in light of the Wolff expose, the Trump attempted rejoinder, the Bannon outing, and the subsequent fallout, the President’s every move will be measured his audience.
Trump no doubt will address international politics and trade as well as his vision for the future of NAFTA. His words and actions will be thoroughly evaluated. Attention will be focused on whether Trump will be able to reset himself after his most recent European visit in July to attend the G-20 meetings. Those sessions did not produce many positive responses from America’s friends and allies. If Trump persists in emphasizing the “America First” agenda, it will alienate many of the world economic powers. Trump may not care, but this could be his third and final chance to reset U.S. relationships.
Meanwhile, confirmation was also given yesterday that just prior to the President’s visit to Switzerland, Vice-President Pence will be making his postponed trip to the Middle East from January 19-23. For the Netanyahu Government, Pence’s visit to Israel, in addition to his visits to Egypt, and Jordan, will feature some grand gestures to affirm the Trump Administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. For Pence other than a spiritual visit for him personally, the visit to Israel will include a private visit to the Western Wall as well as Yad v’Shem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum. Politically, his visit to the region will be marred by the fact that the Palestinians have declined to meet with him. Mahmoud Abbas has indicated that as a consequence of Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, they no longer view the U.S. as independent broker to the peace process.
It will be very interesting to watch if the Trump-Pence travels will succeed in distracting the American people from the domestic tumult percolating at home.