Lately, Donald Trump seems to be recovering his momentum. After appearing mostly flat-footed since the GOP convention, he is back to his old table-upsetting self–today, with a quick trip to Mexico to meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto. The meeting implicitly gave Trump the status of a head of state, and much of the news coverage, like this headline at CNN, puts a positive spin on Trump’s mission:
Of course we have a right to build a wall. I don’t see how anyone could argue to the contrary. In fact, federal law already requires a wall to be built; the Obama administration is simply ignoring the statute. If this is the ground the battle is fought on, Trump can’t lose.
Byron York sees the Mexico junket as a big win for Trump:
Indeed, it was a big win — a very big win — for Trump. Going into a meeting with the potential for disaster — who knew how Pena Nieto would receive the world’s most controversial presidential candidate or what embarrassments might lie ahead? — Trump came out of the meeting looking very much like a potential President of the United States. Standing beside the Mexican leader in front of a green-gray granite wall reminiscent of the United Nations, Trump presented the picture of a statesman.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Trump was reciting “The Snake” before a rowdy audience in Everett, Washington. In Mexico, he looked like a world leader.
Given that Mexico’s President extended the invitation to meet, accepting it was, I think, an easy decision. There was no need to accomplish anything in particular:
After the hour-long session, Trump benefited enormously from the conventions and practices of international relations. There they were, the president at one podium and the candidate at another, translators translating, the assembled international press watching. When it came time to talk, Pena Nieto observed the niceties of diplomacy, treating Trump as a quasi-president already.
Score one for Donald.