Trump Speaks at Davos to the American People

Conrad Black Conrad Black
January 22, 2020Updated: January 22, 2020

There was considerable irony and some drama in President Donald Trump’s excursion to Davos on Jan. 21 as the contemptible charade of an impeachment trial began in the U.S. Senate.

Davos is the epitome of everything Trump considers suspect in the world that is yet within the West and essentially a democratic and capitalist institution. It’s an international meeting in a nondescript and inconvenient little Swiss mountain city of unusually little aesthetic merit for the Alps.

It’s frequented in approximately equal numbers by social-climbing networker-hustlers, groupies, and some adroit dual-taskers who are both, and also by fervent internationalists who see all meetings involving even two people of different nationality as a step toward world government and the abolition of nations, religions, and anything that makes groups of people and ultimately individuals readily distinguishable from each other.

For the first group, Trump is the world’s greatest celebrity and foremost capitalist, and his presence among them lent some importance and enhancement of status to them and to any meeting so distinguishedly attended.

For the second group, the true believers in world homogenization, Trump’s presence could, with an Olympic-scale stretch of the imagination, be construed as Henry IV (Holy Roman emperor) coming to Canossa (1077) and standing (literally) in the snow to pay homage, if not do penance, before the supreme totem of internationalism, (in the original version, Pope Gregory VII).

To the first group, the presence of the world’s greatest officeholder was symbolically and emblematically pleasing, a cubit of enhanced status; to the second, it was galling and disquieting. Practically every public policy, every canon of international relations, every precept of international assistance and environmental enlightenment revered at Davos, was rubbed into their faces (verbally, of course) like a cigarette butt.

Economic Success

Trump was even more casual and underwhelmed by the surroundings than he usually is, other than when he is haranguing tens of thousands of MAGA hat-wearing followers cheering his every sentence anywhere in the United States between New York and Washington and Los Angeles and Seattle (except Chicago).

His remarks at Davos were agreeably reminiscent of his inaugural address almost exactly three years before, and must presage his approach to his electors later this year. He emphasized again and again what he had done for lower-income groups in America: the sharp decline in food stamp use and statistical poverty, the decrease of unemployment and increase in the workforce, and the swifter gains of the disadvantaged over the (still appreciable) gains of upper-income groups.

Though he didn’t present it in this light, he highlighted the only progress the democratic world has made in turning back the ever-steepening income gap. He went to some, and as always with him rather amusing, lengths to disparage the academic and journalistic “experts.” (This would include at least 75 percent of his live audience.)

He made it clear that he was no enemy of the rich, but that they would take good care of themselves. He was doing what, he said, had motivated him to enter public life in the first place: to end policies that victimized American working- and middle-class people and families, such as free-trade deals that effectively exported jobs to the world and imported unemployment into the United States.

Some of his statistics reminded his audience that the United States operates on a scale the world had never imagined to be possible and has done so for over a century, such as when he mentioned that U.S. stock exchanges had added $19 trillion of value in the three years of his presidency.

The decrease of unemployment and nearly 5 percent annual gains in income for the lower quarter of the U.S. income scale and a host of similar facts and statistics rolled over the blank faces of his audience as he reeled them off, fluently but with a complete absence of any attempt at theatrics.

The sub-text, and the balloon above him if it were presented in a cartoon, was: “I told you I would do this when I was here two years ago and I did.”

Debunked Climate Alarmism

They sat stone-faced and unresponsive. The only applause, apart from the beginning and the end, was when he said the United States was happy to join the 1 Trillion Tree initiative. His several amusing lines, apparently improvised as is his custom, elicited no response, such as when he referred mockingly to the absurd practice of negative-interest lending: he said that would have suited him perfectly—he was greeted by the oblivious expressionlessness of the German Swiss at almost all times.

For good measure, Trump debunked the climate theories of which Davos has been one of the great propagators. No one has been a more faithful echo chamber for the ecological militants than the business community of Western Europe. It was a cause they could embrace while laying most of the cost of it on the public sector, and it enabled them to march in unison with organized labor, the bourgeoisie, the academics, and the left.

This was social democracy, the social market, the ultimate compromise—welcome the lion of the ecological left into the tent, then it won’t devour us. Trump batted it away as the pusillanimous, deracinated, innumerate Euro-flim-flam that it is. “I love the environment,” he said ingenuously, but dismissed climate alarmists as charlatans, cowards, and poseurs (without using any of those words, but his gist was clear).

Trump spoke warmly of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, admiringly of the great European cultural heritage—citing especially the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris—and invoked God tastefully and in passing several times, to an audience that most of whom would like to transform the world’s houses of worship into workshops for the unjudgmental discussion of psychoses, anger management, and the art of submission to regulators.

Preview of Election Strategy

Trump’s Davos speech was what was called a century ago “a great state paper.” It updated his inaugural address (which George W. Bush whispered to Hillary Clinton was “some weird [expletive]”).

It also gave his opponents notice of his reelection strategy: I have saved the disadvantaged of America, reassured the great middle class of America, and have shown the limousine liberal wealthy how to share the wealth without losing any of it. He touched every electoral base with any votes on it, and he invited the Democratic impeachers—by his colossal indifference to their puling and squalling—to do unmentionable things with their endless, spurious, and pseudo-moralistic harassments of him.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are playing in sandboxes and the Trump-haters are milling nervously about reciting witless epithets, while Trump leads the rampaging army of his supporters over the walls and to the top of the commanding heights of U.S. government, like the Marines at Mount Suribachi 75 years ago.

The Davos-goers didn’t understand any of it, but Trump wasn’t addressing his message to them; they were straight-men—unpaid plants in the theater. The American people are the jury, and they will bring down their verdict in 285 days.

Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and, most recently, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world. He’s the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and, most recently, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other,” which has been republished in updated form. Follow Conrad Black with Bill Bennett and Victor Davis Hanson on their podcast Scholars and Sense.