It’s easy to dismiss this episode as just another Trumpian flight of fancy that didn’t work out. But take a minute and you start to realize that the whole Greenland incident, which lasted a total of five days, is broadly emblematic of the entire approach that Trump has taken to being president. The Greenland episode is the Trump presidency.
4) Trump cancels the Denmark trip, citing Fredericksen’s comments that Greenland isn’t for sale.
What a whirlwind!
Now consider the Greenland purchase in the context of Trump’s broader presidency. It meets all the criteria that have come to define his “modern-day presidential” approach to the job.
*Come up with a totally off-the-wall idea, with a whiff of America-gets-its-way-no-matter-what in there
*Idea leaks — or the White House leaks it as a trial balloon — to the media, with the caveat that his aides aren’t sure if he is serious about it
*Downplay idea, insisting the media got it wrong — even while leaving the door open to doing the deal if the other side is open to it
*Take ball and go home when off-the-wall idea is rejected, jeopardizing relationship with longtime strategic ally
See, the Greenland story really does have it all! It is the Trump presidency in microcosm. He says and does absolutely wild things. Even his top staffers aren’t sure how serious he is about it, and, therefore, don’t know whether to actually pursue it. The idea leaks to the media and immediately becomes a thing. Trump freelances, making up his views as he goes. A semi-serious conversation about whether any of this is even possible begins even as the intended target starts to freak out. Trump, either spurred or spurned by all of the attention, leans in — to it all. Then it all unravels because, as we later learn, he was winging it all along. There was never any “there” there — just Trump saying stuff.
Greenland was never for sale. Mexico was never going to pay for the wall. His inauguration crowd was never the largest in history. There was not blame on both sides in the white supremacist riots in Charlottesville. Immigrants were never invading our country in hordes. Background checks were never going to happen.
You get the idea. It’s the Trump presidency.