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JOHN BRUMMETT: A thousand words

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Photographs by The New York Times/German federal government/JESCO DENZEL

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to President Donald Trump as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton (top right) and others watch Saturday during the G-7 summit in La Malbaie, Quebec.

The photograph shows what happens when America sends a child to do a woman's job.

The woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, stands and leans forward toward the seated and arm-folded child, United States President Donald Trump. Assorted leaders of the G-7 summit of allied nations stand and flank Merkel.

The thousand words that the photograph is worth ... well, they suggest that a reasonable adult woman is seeking to reason with a bratty male child.

The image is not unlike that of an experienced and committed schoolteacher trying to get a middle-school cutup to behave and consider basic courtesies and studies.

The broader narrative is that the leaders of America's best large-scale, long-term allies--Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada--are not happy with Trump's combative, me-only trade policy with heavy punitive tariffs. They find a trade war among friends dangerous economically and otherwise.


Trump behaved in a my-way-or-the-skyway manner, departing early from this G-7 summit last weekend.

Then, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, this year's summit host, did what responsible national leaders do after such meetings. He generally praised the vigorous discussion, touted a vanilla communique to which all nations had agreed and then tended to his own domestic politics by saying Canada would not get pushed around by anybody on trade, and would retaliate if regrettably necessary.

Watching that aboard Air Force One on television, where this simpleton leader of the free world gets his calls to action, Trump became ego-enraged, per usual, and took instantly to Twitter, per usual.

He tweeted that Trudeau was "dishonest" and "weak." Then he directed that the United States not sign that communique, to which it had previously agreed in a typical spirit of keeping a modicum of peace and collegiality in the alliance.

At some point in all of that, the German government thought it helpful to post that photograph on Instagram of the German adult woman and the American pipsqueak.

They called the last American president no-drama Obama, because he eschewed emotional reaction. Trump despises everything Barack Obama did and resents everything he was. He insists on doing and being the absolute opposite.

Obama cooperated as an ally. He felt no need to tweet an instant attack on Canada's prime minister--or any other allied world leader--because his feelings got hurt when he was made to appear on television less than the central character.

Here is the essential greater context: America is universally understood to be the world's dominant nation. Its best exercise of its greatness is through unassuming benevolence. If America has disputes with its best friends, then it should work on them quietly, internally, respectfully, generously. Selfish bluster is Third World strongman nonsense and un-American.

America needn't flex its muscle or beat its chest. It fills any room it enters with understood supreme muscle and an implied barrel chest. A preposterous second-place Russian-endorsed American president who feels a need to puff himself up by that understood muscle is a pitiable creature indeed.

Let's so hope that, in the next hours, Little Rocket Man doesn't bruise the vulnerable ego of Big American Man of Tiny Hands and Extra-Long Neckties.

It's one thing to blow up over steel tariffs with good and responsible friends. It's a little different to blow up over nuclear missile tests with a fellow madman.

Finally, here's an element as big as any other: While it's true the German government posted that photograph, it's also true that Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, posted it, too, presumably from pride.

You see, Trumpism is about bluster, egomania, selfishness, separateness and borrowing our great nation's long-developed and unflexed muscles to tell the world to go to hell.

An America obsessed only with its own power sounds vaguely like ... well, Russia, which, by the way, Trump likes, and wants to put back in the G-7 to make a G-8.

Russia got kicked out for annexing Crimea, which Trump says Obama somehow made Russia do.

Invoking again that photograph: Merkel is the schoolteacher talking sternly to Trump the bratty middle-schooler, and now Trump the bratty middle-schooler is saying he wants his daddy, who is Putin.

That's the extent to which our great nation stands demeaned by this clown of an accidental president.

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John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 06/12/2018

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