Donald Trump deserves to be a dreamer, too

Donald Trump deserves to be a dreamer, too
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As one observes the international activities of President TrumpDonald John TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says MORE, one must admire his tenacity, focus and, let it be said, his successes. Far from isolating himself from the world, as some in the news media had suggested he would do, Trump is becoming increasingly well-entrenched in his world leadership role. Other leaders do not run away from him; increasingly, they choose to shake his hand for at least a symbolic meeting.

Let’s consider two examples from his recent activities. Trump’s visit to Davos, Switzerland, did not become a showdown between global elites and the president with his “America first” message. The World Economic Forum bills itself as a place where business leaders, policymakers and think tank figures can exchange ideas and plans, representing mostly business, investment, trade and macro policies that are perhaps too large for any country to resolve alone. Though his critics predicted Trump would be an outcast, with no audience, no interest and no influence, that didn’t happen.

Trump was in the company of a number of world leaders in Davos, and he was the first U.S. president to attend since Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonClintons send pizza to NY hospital staff treating coronavirus Budowsky: President Trump, meet with all former living presidents Why Klobuchar should be Biden's vice presidential pick MORE in 2000. Those who predicted he’d receive a cold shoulder — beyond the anti-capitalist protesters outside — must have been chagrined by the praise he received from Klaus Schwab, the founder and head of the World Economic Forum, who cited Trump’s leadership and told him, “Your message here has tremendous relevance.”


Chroniclers of Davos revised their explanation: Trump is wealthy and his peers had to like him, because he’s a businessman. No matter that many business people, a year ago, were concerned about what the novice politician would do in office. Turns out, Trump had little predicted naiveté, and offered meaningful plans. Far from being a disastrous visit, Davos became a Trump triumph.

A second example comes from the State of the Union address. Again, many predictions ahead of time focused on the negative, ranging from the anticipated limited content to Democrats who intended to boycott the speech. But again, something must have been wrong with the crystal ball. His speech was smooth, strong and inspiring. He said: “Americans are dreamers, too,” and told everyone watching from home that “no matter where you have been, or where you come from, this is your time.” He used his talent as a storyteller to introduce modern-day heroes in the audience to Congress, America and the world, and communicated a feeling of pride, comfort and leadership. Many who watched gave the speech good marks.

But the strongest part of Trump’s speech may have been what he didn’t have to say. First, a story to explain what I mean: In London, on Jermyn Street, I went into a haberdashery to buy a cotton shirt. These were  expensive and I asked the salesman to prove that they were worth the money. He explained that all luxury shirts have extra buttons sewn in, so that in case of loss, there would be a replacement available. Now comes the proof of quality: His shirts did not have any spare buttons, because they would not fall off. The absence of even good things can make a point.

I apply that to the State of the Union speech, about 80 minutes long with only two minutes’ worth of comments on trade and globalization. We know how important jobs, international competition and competitiveness are to the president. The lack of mention shows that he is convinced these things speak for themselves. As “reshoring” of manufacturing jobs continues, Fiat Chrysler is the latest manufacturer to announce it will move production back to the United States. And in the wake of the GOP tax plan, many companies have announced investments and employee bonuses.

So far, Trump has reason to be proud of his time in office. We can learn to accept his moments of exuberance — unusual, but largely deserved. To reiterate the strongest line in his State of the Union speech: “Americans are dreamers, too.” Even the president deserves some dreams.

Michael Czinkota teaches international business and trade at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of Kent. His key book (with Ilkka Ronkainen) is “International Marketing” (10th ed., CENGAGE).