President Trump delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning. The president found the crowd at the international gathering particularly responsive, but not in a way he might have expected. During his speech, the audience literally laughed out loud at the president’s boastful claims.
The line that drew laughter was a claim the president has made before, usually to crowds of his loyal supporters at campaign rallies. Trump said, “My administration has accomplished more than any other administration in the history of our country. So true.” Laughter ensued and was loud enough for the president to hear. He acknowledged the response saying, “Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK.”
Some of the president’s ardent supporters tried to brush the laughs off, characterizing them as something other than the world laughing at the Trump’s ridiculous boasting. International leaders confirmed on Wednesday that they were, in fact, laughing at President Trump.
One diplomat from Latin America who remained anonymous so as to be able to speak freely, said, “Sometimes, when we see a behavior or listen to arguments or notions that seem so far-fetched, unreasonable, or insane, there is almost natural reaction of laughing.” The diplomat continued, “It is not laughing at a good joke, but a nervous laugh, or a bad joke turned laughable precisely because the guy who tells the joke doesn’t realize how bad it is.”
A European diplomat wrote, “His words in the opening part of the speech were clearly addressed to [a] domestic audience.” The diplomat added, “But as he did it in the Trumpian way (bragging ridiculously about being one of the best administrations in history) people in the audience reacted how they reacted.” The European diplomat continued, “What would resonate well at a political rally in America sounded a little awkward at the UN General Assembly.”
A diplomat from Asia said, “He doesn’t have any concept of diplomacy.” That diplomat did not, however, that Trump’s lack of diplomacy has “worked well toward North Korea.”
Richard Gowan is a senior fellow at United Nations University. Gowan said the laughter was “scornful laughter, not nervous laughter. But there is a deeper point here: World leaders have worked out that trying to reason with Trump does not work. Trying to attack him often backfires. But laughing at him can defuse his attacks.”