“He was an uneasy, lonely, awkward figure at this gathering.”
That’s what Chris Uhlmann, the political editor at the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, said of Donald Trump in a blistering commentary after the president attended his first G20 summit, noting he appeared to have “no desire and no capacity to lead the world.”
Uhlmann’s blunt wrap-up of Trump’s appearance at the conference, which he had been reporting on in Hamburg, quickly went viral overnight Sunday morning, hours after world leaders lined up against the president and reaffirmed their support of global efforts to combat climate change.
“The G20 became the G19 as it ended,” Uhlmann said. “On the Paris Climate Accords, the U.S. was left isolated and friendless.”
White House spokesman Gary Cohn told reporters aboard Air Force One that the U.S. obviously chose to get out of the Paris agreement, and that having “a diversity of opinions in a group of 20” was not unexpected. Despite that, Uhlmann noted that a “deft” president would have found a topic to rally world leaders around.
“And he had the perfect one: North Korea’s missile tests,” Uhlmann said. “Other leaders expected it [a statement condemning it], they were prepared to back it, but it never came.”
Trump didn’t exactly walk away from the G20 empty handed. While the talks preserved a condemnation of protectionism, an acknowledgment that trade must be “reciprocal and mutually advantageous” and that countries could use “legitimate trade defense instruments” if they are being taken advantage of were added to the statement.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there was “incredible consensus” on the issue and that the U.S. pushed to include the phrasing about “reciprocal” trade.
Despite that, Uhlmann offered a dire prediction for where he thinks the United States and the world are headed under a Trump presidency, noting he thinks America influence in the world had been “diminished” to the benefit of China and Russia.
“Donald Trump has pressed fast forward on the decline of the United States as a global leader,” Uhlmann said. “Some will cheer the decline of America, but I think we’ll miss it when it’s gone — and that’s the biggest threat to the values of the West, which he claims to hold so dear.”
— Insiders ABC (@InsidersABC) July 8, 2017
Uhlmann’s comments struck a nerve in the United States, especially among American journalists and political commentators. NBC Nightly News senior news editor Bradd Jaffy called the video a “a searing assessment” of Trump, while NBC News correspondent Katy Tur wrote on Twitter, “This is something else.”
The White House did not immediate respond to Uhlmann’s comments. Trump left the conference without holding a press conference, a move CNN noted was “a major break with precedent.” Both President Obama and President George W. Bush had press conferences at the G20 summits they attended.
Uhlmann has been the national political editor of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation since 2015, and won the country’s highest journalism award in the category of broadcast interviewing in 2008.
Despite his anti-Trump comments, Uhlmann is known for his conservative-leaning opinions. Last year, he blamed a state-wide blackout in South Australia on renewable energy and published an essay calling Marxism an “intellectual virus” that was destroying the culture of western society.
This should keep the pitchfork crowd busy for days. Knock yourselves out. https://t.co/9iBRdN2UOM
— Chris Uhlmann (@CUhlmann) October 5, 2016
The Associated Press contributed to this report.