The big non-news story this morning is that Trump is making a quick trip for a private meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico. Why? It depends on whom you ask. My opinion is that he erroneously believes it will make a favourable impression on Hispanic voters here in the U.S. prior to the “major immigration speech” he plans to give later this evening in Phoenix, Arizona. Good luck with that, Trumpety. Congressman Joaquín Castro believes there is something more sinister in the works and that Trump is setting the stage to announce (falsely, but since when has the truth ever mattered to Trump?) that President Nieto has agreed to pay for “the wall”. The New York Times calls the visit a “conciliatory gesture”. Interestingly, Greg Sargent of The Washington Post theorizes that perhaps Trump is hoping for a ‘confrontational moment’ that he can use to “remind blue collar whites how tough he is.” Whatever the reason, it all boils down to the fact that his anti-Mexican rhetoric is, in part, responsible for placing him in a losing position and he is grasping at every straw in an effort to score votes.
The meeting could be an interesting one, given the animosity between Trumpety and President Nieto. For over a year, Trump has spewed hateful rhetoric about Mexico and the Mexican people, calling them rapists and murderers, claiming that he will build an impenetrable wall on our mutual border and force Mexico to pay for it. He also announced plans to revisit the North American Free Trade Alliance (NAFTA) and negotiate more favourable terms for the U.S. and less favourable for Mexico. In a speech last year, he said “They are not our friend, believe me … they are killing us economically.”
President Nieto has responded in kind to Trump’s Mexico-phobia, when in a March interview he said:
“There have been episodes in human history, unfortunately, where these expressions of this strident rhetoric have only led to very ominous situations in the history of humanity. That’s how Mussolini got in, that’s how Hitler got in — they took advantage of a situation, a problem perhaps, which humanity was going through at the time, after an economic crisis. And I think what (they) put forward ended up at what we know today from history, in global conflagration. We don’t want that happening anywhere in the world.”
Former Mexican Presidents Vincente Fox and Felipe Calderon have also been sharply critical of Trump in the past year. Fox said that Mexico wouldn’t pay for “that f***ing wall,” comments he later doubled down on. He also compared Trump to Hitler. Calderon said Trump is “sowing anti-American hatred around the world.” Do you get the impression that Trump would be a ‘persona non grata’ in Mexico?
Meanwhile, Nieto is being criticized by the people of Mexico and again, just this morning, by former President Vincente Fox for inviting Mr. Trump into Mexico. “He is not welcome to Mexico,” Mr. Fox told CNN. “We don’t want him. We reject his visit. You cannot trust a guy like this. How can we grant confidence and support to ideas that change everyday? He cynically continues to disregard his own people and disregard Mexicans. I cannot envision him sitting in that chair, that was the chair of President Washington, President Jefferson, President Kennedy, President Reagan. He doesn’t know how to run a nation. He doesn’t even know how to run a business.”
The press contingent that follows Trump, interestingly, is not going to Mexico, despite being told that there will be a Q&A session for both Mexican and American reporters after the meeting between Trump and Nieto. The press plane was instead diverted, at the direction of the Trump campaign, to Phoenix to await his speech this evening. One wonders …
When global market research firm, Ipsos, asked people around the world in June who they’d pick in the American presidential contest, no country saw a wider gap than Mexico. Mexico preferred Clinton to Trump by an 88-to-1 margin — an 87-point spread. It is telling that the only countries that preferred Trump were China and Russia.
Nothing much is likely to come of Trump’s visit to Mexico, other than Mexican President Nieto likely losing even more support among his own constituency. I see this as nothing more than a publicity opportunity for Trumpety. Yet, it could become interesting, so we should stay tuned. Tonight’s speech, also, is likely to be another “ho-hum” non-event whereby Trumpety attempts to clarify that which has left all the pundits scratching their heads for the past week or two, his current stance on immigration. I just hope he keeps it short so that I can later read the transcript without falling asleep across my keyboard.