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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Despite the dramatic climate, Trump's UN message proved to be a snore

President Donald Trump speaks Tuesday at the UN

President Donald Trump speaks Tuesday at the UN General Assembly in Manhattan. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Johannes Eisele

President Donald Trump's 2018 address to the UN General Assembly was most notable for the fact that he got laughs — but at his own expense.

The unintended punchline came right at the start of that speech. "In less than two years my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country," he said to a surprising wave of titters.

This year, the mood was different.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, seated in the president's entourage alongside Vice President Mike Pence appeared to nod off, making for a video image that went viral. Ross did the same two years ago at a Trump appearance in Saudi Arabia.

This year's most resounding UN laugh line about Trump came a full day before the president's address.

On Monday, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg addressed the Climate Action Summit.  He serves as the UN special envoy for climate change.

Bloomberg dryly thanked Trump for his presence at the UN.

"Hopefully our discussions today will be useful for you when you formulate climate policy," Bloomberg said.

It took the audience just a moment to process what he'd just said. Chuckles followed. Bloomberg held his serious deadpan and then acknowledged the cities, states and businesses working to end the use of coal and cut emission of pollutants, in contradiction of Trump's policies.

Later in the day, Trump demonstrated his level of environmental concern by posting a tweet mocking 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who gave a grim but moving save-the-planet address and stole the acclaim.

"She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future," Trump tweeted sarcastically. "So nice to see!"

On Tuesday, Trump dished out his usual cant in his General Assembly speech. Reading from a monitor in a notably subdued manner, he complained about unfair trade practices, the U.S. share of defense spending, border jumping and socialism.

"The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots," Trump said.

But now he's prompted questions about his own patriotism by asking Ukraine leaders to pursue hazy claims of wrongdoing against his fellow American Joe Biden.  

In the U.S. House of Representatives, impeachment moved to the front burner Tuesday, eclipsing whatever fine points of legitimate foreign policy might have been broached along Manhattan's East River.

Trump as usual slammed Iran but said the U.S. "has never believed in permanent enemies." In May of last year, he announced withdrawal from the multilateral nuclear deal with Tehran. For now, nothing is likely to replace it.

Some of the rhetoric begged, as it often does, for factual support and explanation.

"Globalism exerted a religious pull over past leaders, causing them to ignore their own national interests. Those days are over," Trump said.

He added: "Love of our own nations makes the world better for all nations."

Where those words might take the U.S. is anyone's guess.


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