You don’t have to be Secretary of State John Kerry to see the whole world laughing at this election cycle. Jokes about “hand size” and giant walls along the Mexican border have spread to countries looking in as well.
A lot of those jokes, however, are just a deflection of the very real fear that Donald Trump could become the next president of the United States of America. Kerry probably laughs at them less than most. Kerry sat down on Sunday with CBS’ Face the Nation to discuss his role as Secretary of State, and how it had been influenced by the 2016 election cycle.
John was decisively clear in expressing that the outlandish political rhetoric present in the 2016 race was turning into a black eye for American diplomacy. Kerry complained that he is, without fail, questioned about Donald and other upsetting statements on the U.S. campaign trial.
“Everywhere I go. Every leader I meet. They ask about what is happening in America. They can’t believe it. I think it’s fair to say that they are shocked. They don’t know where it’s taking the United States of America.”
Kerry reflected what many have said about the Trump campaign. Even if the real estate tycoon doesn’t win, he’s managed to make himself look like a legitimate mouthpiece for a significant portion of the U.S. population. Caricatures of gun-loving, Muslim-hating Americans have been confirmed for many who already took issue with the country in the first place – the exact kind of image Kerry is seeking to combat.
Even worse, the Donald’s campaign has been a protracted affair. It’s been more than a year since people first began talking about what they thought would be the biggest fluke of the election cycle. The Trump campaign not only hung on, but landed itself so far ahead of its other GOP competitors that the phrase “presumptive nominee” is only being withheld out of sheer horror — for Republicans themselves and for U.S. diplomats abroad like Kerry.
With all eyes on the Donald, it’s hard for the topic not to dominate conversations with foreigners nervous over the possibility of Trump becoming the Command-in-Chief. For Kerry, it’s become a constant talking point. John noted that the level of confidence in the U.S. has faltered significantly, and also seems to indicate that some of these questions may have been asked in a mocking tone.
“It upsets people’s sense of equilibrium about our steadiness, about our reliability. And to some degree I must say to you, some of the questions, the way they’re posed to me, it’s clear to me that what’s happening is an embarrassment to our country.”
John is certainly not the first person to document the phenomenon of Americans abroad being forced to answer for Donald’s mouth. In January, Vice News published a piece that interviewed U.S. expats about their experiences since the ascent of Trump. Like Kerry, they all remarked that it had become a dominating part of their interaction with people, and that they had sought to distance themselves from the candidate.
Some, like Rabie Bakarat, a Professor of Media Studies at the American University of Beirut, say that it has enabled Saudi media to excuse their own problems by showing how extreme the United States has gotten.
“Trump’s comments have provided government-sponsored media outlets a chance to be on the offensive. Basically you hear people saying, ‘We are not responsible for all this [terrorism] bulls**t. Americans have similar problems. You have candidates like Trump who are supporting their own form of extremism.'”
Did you agree with Secretary of State John Kerry that the 2016 election cycle has been an embarrassment to the United States?
[Image via Tom Pennington/Getty Images]