At first glance, a gathering of global elites focused on the world community – in Switzerland, no less! – would not seem like the sort of crowd with which Donald Trump would like to fraternize.
After all, Trump spent the entirety of the 2016 campaign promising to put “America First” and “Make America Great Again.” He’s pursued a similar agenda in the White House, insisting international trade deals involving the United States need to be re-examined and pulling the United States out of the Paris climate accords.
And yet, Trump – and a number of his senior aides – is at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a visit that will culminate Friday morning (8 a.m. Eastern Time) when Trump addresses the WEF delegates.
Simple – and psychological.
Remember that Trump’s frame on the world, the lens through which he sees everything, is that of him on the outside looking in. His father was a major developer in Queens, not Manhattan. When Trump himself brought the business to Manhattan, the old money elites in the city never accepted this brash youngster. When Trump came to Washington in 2011 thinking about running for president, the political world laughed – literally – at him.
For Trump, then, Davos is another club that never wanted him, but now can’t refuse him. It’s a chance to rub the noses of the global elite in the fact that he won (even though they all thought he was a joke) and that his “America First” message is working – as evidenced by the surging stock market and companies moving jobs back to the United States. (Chances of an Electoral College mention in Trump’s speech? 50-50.)
Trump, probably, won’t do any major rubbing it in during his speech. Previews of the address focus on the fact that “America First” doesn’t mean “America only.”
This is Trump, of course, so a bit of off-prompter freelancing is always a possibility – particularly when he knows he has the eyes of the world on him.
The Point: There’s nothing Trump loves better than proving his “haters and losers” wrong. And there are few places in the world where more Trump doubters will ever be gathered than in Davos on Friday. In other words: look out!
Read Thursday’s full edition of The Point.