Metro USA (New York) - - News - EL­LIS HENI­CAN @heni­can

Look who’s pals with the Mus­lims now!

Af­ter fa­mously snarling that “Is­lam hates us” and cam­paign­ing for a ban on all Mus­lims en­ter­ing the United States, Don­ald Trump stood be­fore the world’s Mus­lim lead­ers and sounded al­most like a nor­mal Amer­i­can pres­i­dent.

The fight against ter­ror “is not a bat­tle be­tween dif­fer­ent faiths, dif­fer­ent sects or dif­fer­ent civ­i­liza­tions,” he said Sun­day in Riyadh, Saudi Ara­bia, the first stop of his first over­seas trip as pres­i­dent. “This is a bat­tle be­tween those who seek to oblit­er­ate hu­man life and those who seek to pro­tect it.”

The less bom­bas­tic tone was in­stantly wel­comed around the world and at home. Trump didn’t quite apol­o­gize — this pres­i­dent never apol­o­gizes — for the over­heated rhetoric that helped elect him. But read­ing the care­ful words that staffers had clearly writ­ten, the only ques­tion was how much of it he ac­tu­ally be­lieved.

One of two things ex­plained the more mea­sured tone: Ei­ther Trump has come to un­der­stand that it makes no sense to con­tinue alien­at­ing Amer­ica’s Mus­lim al­lies, our best de­fense against fu­ture acts of ter­ror — or, in a des­per­ate quest for face-to-face ap­proval, he just can’t stand not to be liked by who­ever’s sit­ting across from him. We’ve seen this movie be­fore.

Trump cam­paigned against NATO as “ob­so­lete” un­til NATO Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg showed up in Wash­ing­ton. Sud­denly, ev­ery­thing changed. “I said it was ob­so­lete,” the pres­i­dent said of the key At­lantic al­liance. “It’s no longer ob­so­lete.”

Sim­i­larly, Trump claimed China was “rap­ing” the U.S. econ­omy and vowed to la­bel China a cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tor on his first day in of­fice. Then, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping came to Mar-a-Lago, where he wasn’t served the Big Mac that Trump had once promised. Over the most beau­ti­ful piece of choco­late cake ever, the rape talk was his­tory, and China was “not a cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tor” any­more.

The flips just keep flop­ping, of­ten though not al­ways be­cause of phys­i­cal prox­im­ity: Fed chair Janet Yellen (from bad to good), FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey (from good to bad), Barack Obama (bad to good to bad again), Megyn Kelly (bad, good, bad), Vladimir Putin (good to bad to good to bet­ter to great to God knows what’s com­ing next).

What­ever. He cer­tainly sounded less hate­ful yes­ter­day. Th­ese days, I’m tak­ing what I can get.

Metro columnist El­lis Heni­can is a vet­eran jour­nal­ist, best-sell­ing au­thor and fre­quent com­men­ta­tor on CNN and other TV net­works. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @heni­can.


From left, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mo­hammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Saudi Ara­bia’s King Sal­man bin Ab­du­laziz Al Saud, King Ab­dul­lah II bin al-Hus­sein of Jor­dan and Pres­i­dent of Egypt Ab­del Fat­tah el-Sisi pose for a photo dur­ing...

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