You can trace much of President Donald Trump’s appeal in middle America to his frank talk. Unlike most politicians, the president refuses to be chained to traditional political cliches or platitudes.
So it was with his speech this week at the United Nations.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump characterized the United Nations as weak and incompetent. His was no less blunt during his Tuesday address to the body.
In a speech that touted the “principled realism” of having nations act in both their own self interests and the common interest of the United Nations, the president called out North Korea, Iran, Syria and Venezuela, labeling each a “scourge” that violates “every principle on which the United Nations is based.”
“They respect neither their own citizens, nor the sovereign rights of their countries,” he told the General Assembly. “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”
Mr. Trump dubbed North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, “Rocket Man,” and accused him of being on a “suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” He added that if forced to defend itself or its allies, the United States would have “no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
On Syria, Mr. Trump said, “The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person.” The president urged a de-escalation of the conflict in Syria, as well as a “political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people.”
The president also took a swipe at the shift toward socialism across the globe, rightly noting the “great despair” it has brought to places like Venezuela and elsewhere. “The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented,” he said, “but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.”
The president also chided Iran, not only taking aim at the Obama administration’s 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but also the nation itself, chastising it as “another reckless regime, one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.”
None of these points is particularly controversial, of course. But Democrats and their leftist allies were wringing their hands over the president’s aggressive rhetoric. It may all be true, but you’re not supposed to actually say it. Ronald Reagan faced similar brickbats when in 1983 he described the Soviet Union as the “evil empire,” as did George W. Bush for his 2002 “axis of evil” remark.
Mr. Trump’s tone was no doubt too bellicose for some, but his remarks in many respects simply articulated traditional U.S. policy doctrines, many of which date back decades. Even if he did dare say them out loud.