The kind of rhetoric being used by Democrats, progressives, leftists, and even some Republicans to describe Trump is being repeated in the capitals of America’s allies in Europe. European media are persuading politicians and the public that Trump is buffoonish, dangerous, or both.
For example, when news of Trump’s primary victories became evident, a member of a panel of television presenters on Britain’s Sky News said that the prospect of a Trump presidency is “absolutely terrifying.”
Speaking in a broadcast today, “When you see some of the scenes going on over there, it’s just extraordinary,” one panelist said, “It is quite frightening, I think. I mean, it looks as though we could have Trump as the president.” He wondered how Britain and Europe are “going to cope.” He also stated that rallies have been cancelled because of “dangers arising now from his supporters.” The analyst said that Trump’s “terrifying” campaign is populated by “Middle West gun-shooting people who are finding him exciting.”
The show anchor agreed, saying “They’ve got a lot of sway with the electorate though, the Middle-West gun-toter.” “It’s not so terrifying that he’s there,” another panelist said. “It’s that this is what America seems to want.”
Another panelist said that it is “frightening” that many Britons do not realize how dangerous Trump allegedly is. “His communication with our world, with Europe or Britain and the rest of Europe is going to be everything,” one of the analysts said. “It’s key. Of course, it is. Is Trump going to be able to have a relationship with Putin? How is this going to work?” Another analyst interjected, “He’ll shoot him.”
One of Europe’s leading intellectuals, French philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Levy characterized Trump in an article that has been circulated in English, French and Spanish. Levy described what he called Trump's “pathetic hatred” of women. He referred to Trump as a “kitschy carnival performer, coiffed and botoxed, drifting from one television camera to another with his fleshy mouth perpetually open.” Trump’s exposed teeth leads Levy to conjecture over-eating, or that "Trump will eat you next."
Levy believes that America is “a country turning in on itself, walling itself off, and ultimately impoverishing itself by chasing away the Chinese, Muslims, Mexicans, and others who have contributed” to the most globalized country on the planet. Moreover, Levy says that Trump may be a harbinger of a “truly new episode in world politics.”
The effect that such commentary has on the European public and its leadership is hard to gauge. But it can be envisioned in comments made by prominent politicians. For example, Friedrich Merz – a right-wing former member of the Bundestag for the ruling CDU party who now chairs the nonprofit Atlantic Bridge – recently said Trump is a "terrifying phenomenon." Writing at Deutsche Welle, a German news service, Jens Thurnau said that rightist Merz is a critic of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s "social democratization" policies. “In other words,” writes Thurnau, “if Merz thinks Trump is terrifying, then what must his colleagues from the political center and left think?”
Germans have strong feelings about American presidential candidates: 74 percent of Germans would vote for Hillary Clinton, and only 8 percent would support Donald Trump. Thurnau repeated the accusation that Trump admires Russian president Vladimir Putin – an accusation that is frequently repeated by liberal media and politicians in the United States. In December, Putin said that Trump is “brilliant and talented.” Trump returned the compliment, “When people call you ‘brilliant’ it’s always good, especially when the person heads up Russia.” When questioned whether he condoned the murder of journalists and opponents attributed to Putin, Trump said it was “absolutely” wrong.
European media and politicians see the United States through the lens of America media. The narratives spun by American politicians such as Clinton and Sanders can have a bearing on how American diplomatic and military initiatives are received in Europe in an eventual Trump presidency. Repeating themes mentioned by Clinton in her March 13 town hall gathering, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel recently labeled Trump a threat to peace and prosperity. "Whether Donald Trump, Marine le Pen (French nationalist) or Geert Wilders (Dutch critic of Islam) - all these right-wing populists are not only a threat to peace and social cohesion, but also to economic development." Chancellor Merkel said that it has always been a pleasure to work with Hillary.