Why The Trump “Baby Balloon” Was Not Just Funny, But Important
Masses of Brits taking to the streets in protest actually HELPS Trump, unless…
Trump couldn’t have asked for a better gift than huge protests against him in the U.K. What better way to show the folks at home he’s tough? What better way to show the folks at home that he’s standing up to the people who are used to “taking advantage of the United States”? What better way to show that he’s no longer letting them do that, so of course they’re steaming?
No, the message only potentially hits home if Trump’s the subject of ridicule, not anger. Of derision, not bile.
Because there’s nothing Trump hates more than being laughed at.
The Trump “Baby Balloon” checked all those boxes. Was it impolite? Did it cross some line of propriety? Who cares? It was necessary and effective.
First of all, even though he denies it up and down, it gave London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan a chance to punch back after Trump’s repeatedly ripped into him on Twitter, calling Khan (who happens to be Muslim), “pathetic” and doing a “terrible job”, and also misquoting him (among other things). That in itself is important, because the posture of most other politicians around the world has been to “roll over” even if they’ve just been savaged by Trump. (Most recently, British Prime Minister Theresa May herself, who at least publicly acceded to Trump’s assertion that he didn’t actually say bad things about her even though he is on tape actually saying them.) And yes, Khan has a lot less to lose by approving a permit for a balloon than do the leaders of entire countries, or NATO, or the EU. But Trump understands “punching back”, which is why it works. And yes, it’s more than a risk that you will then get punched back by Trump in return. But so what? He’s messing with you anyway! Why not come at it from a position of defiance?
More broadly, Trump and his supporters were palpably irritated by the balloon. Much more so than any mass protest. Said Trump himself in the now legendary interview in The Sun: “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London”.
To our allies overseas: look, we understand you’re fuming. We’re not saying stay home. Get out there and vent if you need to. Just that yelling and jeering at our President only serves to provide him with the fuel that keeps him and his base going. It makes him stronger by “proving” that every lie he’s told about you is right, and it solidifies his support.
Ridiculing him, laughing at him, is the only thing that sucks away that power and frustrates and weakens him. It unnerves him, makes him wobbly, until he’s no more than a toddler throwing mashed potatoes on the carpet.