‘Trump finds success in Asia’ screamed the CNN headline.
Every part of that sentence is bordering on unprecedented.
First, Donald Trump being called a ‘success’ during his tenure as President of the United States by someone other than himself or his White House staff.
Second, CNN, his most entrenched mainstream media enemy, being the ones to say it.
Yet what else could my old network say?
By any yardstick, Trump’s 12-day tour to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines has been a resounding triumph.
The main purpose of such a trip for any US president is to shore up relations with the countries you are visiting, and their leaders, and to represent America in a good, positive way.
Trump did all that. And he did it with an ease, confidence, respect and good humour that often seems sorely lacking back home when he’s strutting around the White House in what seems like perpetual rage.
He may be one of the most divisive presidents in history, but in terms of his celebrity status, already very big before he even ran for office, Trump’s also a political superstar of almost unprecedented proportions.
Hence the amazing scenes of excitement that have greeted him throughout the tour.
It’s been notable to see how much his numerous hosts have lavished him with extravagant praise and parades, just as we saw on his previous visits to places like Saudi Arabia and France.
They’ve worked out how to make Trump happy: treat him like the most powerful man in the world.
For a guy so widely reviled and scorned in his own country, this high level of ostentatious respect must come as a blessed relief from the relentless hour-by-hour war of attrition he wages at home with anyone and everyone from the media to grieving war widows.
On the first stop, in Japan, Prime Minister Abe played golf with Trump and a top Japanese professional star, gave him customized hats saying ‘Donald & Shinzo, make alliance even greater’, and treated him to a steak dinner, remembering Trump’s infamous claim during a trip to Japan in 1990 that he did want ‘f***ing raw fish’.
‘There has never been such close bonds intimately connecting the leaders of both nations as we do now in the history of the Japan-US alliance,’ said Abe.
Wow. Trump himself couldn’t have out-hyperbole’d that euphoric statement.
In South Korea, where Trump’s had a frosty relationship with president Moon Jae-in, he was met with thousands of flag-waving children, military marching bands and hundreds of guards.
Moon told his guest he was ‘making great progress on making America great again.’
The US media were desperate to ‘gotcha’ Trump making a fool of himself during the tour.
Witness their lip-licking joy when they heard he’d chucked a whole bowl of food into a pool full of rare Koi fish in Japan.
Twitter blew up with a video clip displaying his apparently crass, potentially murderous stupidity.
Then a fuller tape emerged showing President Abe had done the exact same thing a few seconds before.