Trump’s visit to Mexico, the costs of stupidity.
Thursday protestors will gather in Mexico City’s main square to demand the resignation of president Enrique Peña Nieto. The selected date is charged. The 15th of September is Mexican Independence Day, the most important in the national calendar.
Which means the president will be there, too. Actually he will have to face the crowd: tradition requires him to stand in the presidential balcony and shout “Viva Mexico” to the jubilant masses who, under normal conditions, are expected to shout back.
This time, however, many will greet him with anti-Trump cries.
The protestors are not alone. Two weeks ago, Mexicans all over the world watched in dismay as their president met with the xenophobic Republican candidate Donald Trump. The hopeful few who gave some credit to the move thought the press conference could prove to be good PR for Peña: the Mexican president could tackle his unpopularity––the highest for any sitting president in two decades––only if he managed to stand up to Trump.
He did not: instead, he stated that he was willing to work with whoever won the White House and went as far as suggesting that Trump’s remarks — about Mexicans being rapists, for example––had been misinterpreted and should be met with an open mind. In a couple of minutes, the President of Mexico legitimized the bully.
And Trump did not flinch. Later that day he delivered one of the most radical anti-immigration speeches in US history. But even after the speech, Peña was still adamant: he had stood up — albeit privately — for Mexican’s interests, he stated in national television.
According to polls, 85% of Mexicans felt offended by the whole act.
Later that week, Trump appeared to have gained ground in the electoral race and the outrage reached new heights. Newspaper columnist Silva Herzog called the meeting an act of treason. If Mexico had, in any way, helped the candidate get into the White House — wrote prominent intellectual Enrique Krauze — then it was a historical mistake that no one would forget in the years to come.
During the whole affair Peña reiterated that it was a tradition to invite the US candidates for a one-on-one with the president. Besides, he said, he had invited Hilary, too. But the little clout that this argument had disappeared earlier last week when Hillary Clinton declined Peña’s invitation, on the grounds that she already had the backing of the Hispanic voters.
Peña was left out cold.
Enter the witch hunt. Last Wednesday, Peña called for a press conference to announce changes in his cabinet: earlier that morning, Secretary of Treasury Luis Videgarray, credited with the idea of the meeting with Trump, had resigned.
Analysts say that the move is projected towards the national elections of 2018. But what Mexicans can’t believe is that they still have to go through two more years of Peña, a president that has been accused of corruption, censorship and contempt for human rights.
But the biggest problem is not even that. The whole Trump affair shows that the president is just not that smart. Worse, he is stupid. And, according to Silva Herzog this is the worst trait for politicians to have. Unlike evil leaders, stupid politicians make harm not only to others, but also to themselves.
We are tired of these kamikaze types.
Originally published at www.theeuropean-magazine.com on September 13, 2016.