The Ugly American Lands in London

By Jamie Stiehm

June 5, 2019 5 min read

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump was born the summer of '46. The president who would be king turns 73 on June 14, the greatest gift the baby-boom generation gave the nation.

Trump is the oldest president in history. With his heavy jowls, he looks every day of his age, a possible factor in the 2020 presidential election. Candidates under 60 can say Trump is greedily engaged in generational theft.

At times, baby boomers are too much of a thing. Trump is the final lash.

Another American president will turn 73 in July, George W. Bush. And a third will in August, Bill Clinton, who was also born in the summer of 1946.

That fact tells a story. When you consider how huge, dominant and vocal the post-World War II generation was, it follows that a baby boomer would be in charge in the Oval Office at least 20 years in the life of the nation.

Trump is in London for a state visit. In an earlier epoch, he might have been detained in the Tower for incoming rude remarks about Mayor Sadiq Khan — "a stone cold loser" doing a terrible job, he tweeted — and the "nasty" American duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

Once again, Donald, that's just not done, as the British say. It so happens the two leaders Trump meets with there are women, Queen Elizabeth II, the head of state, and the outgoing prime minister, Theresa May. Perhaps that's part of his problem.

Not to be outdone by his own poor manners, Trump dispensed free political advice, urging the British populace to bring Boris Johnson to power as the next prime minister. Johnson is the foppish blond bringer of the Brexit mess.

People out on the streets of London taunted him with a USS John McCain banner, since Trump famously can't take a joke or be reminded of the senator he hated. The Buckingham Palace white-tie banquet was a show of how things actually are done with class and elegance.

Chances are the palace pageant took the president's mind off his Mexican tariffs and impeachment prospects rising like the rivers in the Midwest (where his rural voters till the soil). And it may have fired up his appetite for absolute monarchy, being surrounded by family. What he doesn't say is revealing: He seldom utters or tweets the word "democracy."

With his temper, ample girth and reddish hair, Trump calls up the aging King Henry VIII, without the charm. Like mercurial Henry, Trump scans the horizon for personal enemies constantly, liable to turn on even his closest advisers. Women were for sport, and two of his wives had a nasty end.

Of special note, though, is Trump's Thomas Cromwell — the ruthless lawyer and cunning executor of the king's every whim, including the trial and beheading of his Queen Anne Boleyn.

Cromwell lives again in the whiny, zealous defender of presidential privilege, William Barr, the attorney general. Barr took to his new office this winter with a vengeance.

Barr is now investigating the president's investigators. He accused the FBI of spying, under oath. He's telling Justice Department and administration employees (past and present) to defy congressional subpoenas to appear before it to testify. Documents? What documents? He is, in fact, the opposite of the chief enforcer of law and order.

Like Cromwell all over again, Barr serves strictly to buttress Trump's suit of armor and get him past 2020, when he'll be a law unto his own. The rest of the realm can wait on justice. He managed the delayed release of the Mueller report like a virtuoso courtier. Washington was fooled by his preppie look and establishment credentials.

Not to be forgotten: Cromwell was parted from his head in the end.

Stateside, on our side of the Atlantic, we're inured to Trump's invective, so his antics with our best ally are just another day at the office. We look forward to how he comports himself on the upcoming 75th anniversary of D-Day with weary dread.

In July and August, I'll take looks at the other boomer presidents, Bush and Clinton. The third was not the charm.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, please visit the website, creators.com.

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