Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Trump

Trump's speech in Saudi Arabia was great. More please!

President Trump.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Image courtesy AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

When Donald Trump has the mind to do so, he can act exactly the way Americans expect a president to act. He proved that again in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, with his speech to the Gulf Cooperation Council. Gone was the clash of civilizations between the West and Islam that characterized Trump's rhetoric on the campaign trail. Instead, he spoke in sober tones of cooperation — and while his words may have come from a speechwriter, it was the attentiveness as Trump read them off the teleprompter that marked the difference between this Trump and the flailing incompetent that has dominated headlines for weeks. This Trump cared enough to get something right.

Delivering a speech without going off script is a low bar, to be sure. And the speech itself was quickly overshadowed, at least for much of the online commentariat, by a striking image to which the president unwisely lent himself afterwards: along with King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Egypt's President Sisi, Trump inaugurated a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology with a photo op showing the trio laying hands upon a glowing orb — an image that might have come straight out of the next Star Wars movie. So yes, the president's first foreign trip has had its share of missteps. But the centerpiece speech of the visit to Saudi Arabia showcased President Trump as Dr. Jekyll, for once, rather than Mr. Hyde.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Daniel McCarthy

Daniel McCarthy is director of the Novak Journalism Fellowship Program at the Fund for American Studies, the editor of Modern Age, and a columnist at The Spectator. His freelance journalism has appeared in a variety of publications in the U.S. and internationally, including the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, The National Interest, and Reason.