President Donald Trump embarrassed the country yet again on the international stage this past week during the G20 summit. Speaking to reporters in Osaka, Japan where the summit was held, Trump displayed a complete lack of understanding when it comes to basic history and political terminology.
When asked by The New York Times about Russian president Vladimir Putin’s comments about Western liberalism being “obsolete,” Trump took that to mean literally liberals living on the west coast of the United States.
“He’s sees what’s going on, I guess, if you look at what’s happening in Los Angeles, where it’s so sad to look, and what’s happening in San Francisco and a couple of other cities, which are run by an extraordinary group of liberal people,” Trump told the Times.
“I don’t know what they’re thinking,” he added. “But when you look at Los Angeles, when you look at San Francisco, when you look at some of the other cities — and not a lot, not a lot — but you don’t want it to spread.”
What Putin was referring to, of course, is liberalism in the Western world, which consists most of Europe and the United States. In this usage, “liberalism” refers not to progressive or leftist policies, but to individual rights, equality before the law, and democracy and consent to be governed, in contrast to a dictatorship or populism or minority rule. In recent European Union elections, however, nationalist, populist parties have been gaining influence in countries like Italy and Poland. That is what Putin meant by those comments, not what liberal politicians in California or Washington state are doing.
This was hardlyTrump’s only flub during the Saturday’s news conference. He was asked by ABC News about an exchange between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) in Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate over busing. “Busing” refers to the practice of transporting children outside of their geographic school districts in order to help integrate schools. After the Supreme Court struck down school segregation in 1954, some black children were sent to white schools and vice-versa, in order to integrate school systems.
Trump’s made clear he thought the term “busing” meant using a bus to commute to school.
“You know, there aren’t that many ways you’re going to get people to schools. So this is something that’s been done. In some cases, it’s been done with a hammer instead of a velvet glove. And, you know, that’s part of it [….] But it is certainly a primary method of getting people to schools.”