Jan. 24, 2018
Heather Hurlburt wrote about Trump's upcoming appearance at Davos for New York Magazine.
That all might seem to make Trump a painfully unwelcome guest this year. But I suspect the idea that Davos will greet Trump with unrelenting hostility is overblown. It’s not the Women’s March. Plenty of attendees will still be willing to give the president a decent welcome, for three reasons.
First, money talks and the U.S. stock market is printing it, for corporations and wealthy individuals around the world. Ironically, Trump the economic nationalist is providing the most immediate returns to an elite group whose country is first-class lounges, private aviation hubs, and confabs such as Davos.
Second, Davos is full of deal makers — people who have already been successful in the private sector and see the conference as a chance to hear about doing good and to put themselves in the position to do even better. Trump has made it clear that he is nothing if not transactional, whether the topic is U.S.-China-Taiwan relations or a reprieve for Dreamers. They recognize in him a kindred spirit, if one is being kind, or a potential mark, if one is being unkind. When they sense an opening, they won’t let a little thing like calling dozens of countries “shitholes” — even if they are potential business locations — get in the way.
Finally, it’s not just Trump’s deal-making that earns him more kindred spirits abroad than his enemies at home might imagine. From Poland to Japan, Russia to the Philippines, India to Turkey to Brazil, plenty of political and business leaders share Trump’s embrace of a world in which national rights are paramount, human rights are devalued, and some cultures are more inherently worthy than others. Even at cosmopolitan Davos, those views are represented, and often loudly.