A Hungarian reassessment of Donald Trump

The Orbán government, as we know, was initially delighted over Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States. Viktor Orbán expected a favorable change in U.S.-Hungarian relations, especially since the Hungarian prime minister was the only European leader to express a preference for Donald Trump over Hilary Clinton during the election campaign. A reciprocal sign of goodwill on the part of Trump was presumed, not just by the Hungarian administration but by the public as well. The prime minister undoubtedly expected an early invitation to the White House in addition to friendlier gestures from the U.S. State Department. None of these expectations has materialized. On the contrary, Viktor Orbán’s attack on Central European University was sharply denounced by the State Department. At the same time U.S.-Russian relations, instead of getting better, have soured. By now there’s a Cold-War-like chill in the relationship between the two countries.

In the last few weeks we have seen signs that the Orbán government is in the process of reassessing its opinion of the American president, who lost his first rounds against the Washington establishment and might already have been mortally wounded under the barrage of revelations about his and his family’s questionable conduct. Thus, I assume, the journalists of the government media received permission to use stronger language against the American president which, given their pro-Russian views, comes naturally to them.

Leading the way is István Lovas, who used to be Magyar Nemzet’s Brussels correspondent at the time the paper was the main mouthpiece of Fidesz. Lovas, after 20 years of living in Canada, the United States, and Germany where he worked for Radio Free Europe, returned to Hungary. He began writing for right-wing papers, like the now defunct Pesti Hírlap, Magyar Demokrata, Magyar Hírlap, and Magyar Idők. He is also a regular participant in a political roundtable program alongside Zsolt Bayer on the far-right Echo TV, now owned by Lőrinc Mészáros. His expertise is foreign policy. In addition, he maintains a blog.

Lovas published two articles on Trump today, one in Magyar Hírlap and the other in Magyar Idők. The first deals with “The collapse of Trump” and the other with the forthcoming economic sanctions against “dishonest” China. In addition, Magyar Idők added an editorial on the “economic saber rattling” of the United States. So, the honeymoon, if there ever was one, is over.

In Lovas’s assessment, the last remnants of Trump’s “pretense of power” evaporated when he signed the sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. It was a cowardly and unconstitutional act, in Lovas’s opinion. His performance as president has been disgraceful, and all those who believed his campaign promises about his plans for good relations with Russia are greatly disappointed. Trump is universally despised—at one point Lovas calls him a cockchafer’s grub—and therefore, in Lovas’s opinion, “it is not worth meeting this man.” I guess this is a message to Viktor Orbán: “Don’t be too disappointed that you haven’t been invited to Washington to meet the failed president. It’s not worth the bother.”

Lovas’s other article, on America’s possible trade war with China, is not an original piece but a summary of an article originally published in Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten. Lovas, who spent more than a week in China recently, is impressed with the super-modern world the Chinese created in the last few decades and therefore is worried about American plans that might result in a full-fledged trade war between the two countries.

The third article, “Trumps attacks on many fronts,” by Attila Mártonffy, deals with U.S. sanctions against Russia, China, and Iran which in turn hurt the economic interests of the European Union. The author calls the American moves “saber rattling.”

All in all, after relative media silence, the open criticism of Donald Trump has begun. Knowing the practices of the Hungarian government media, the articles that appear in Magyar Idők and Magyar Hírlap will a few days later be followed by pieces on all the lesser right-wing internet sites. We can expect article after article reassessing the role of Donald Trump as “the leader of the free world.”

Meanwhile, it might be educational to take a look at a by-now admittedly dated study (the material was collected from February 16 to May 8 and the report published in late June) by the Pew Research Center. It focuses on the opinions of people living in 37 countries about Donald Trump and the United States. We are lucky because Hungary was one of the 10 European countries included in the survey.

Overall, confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in world affairs dropped sharply (from 64% to 22%) after Trump became president. This is true in Hungary as well. Hungarian trust in the presidency in the closing years of Obama’s second term was 58%, but by the time of the survey it was only 29%. I should add that there are only two countries of the 37 included in the survey where confidence in Trump was greater than it was in Obama: Israel (from 49% to 56%) and Russia (from 11% to 56%). Disappointment among Russians must be great nowadays.

When the researchers wanted to pinpoint the effect of the change in U.S. administration on public opinion in the countries studied some interesting results surfaced. Ten European countries were included in the survey: Hungary, Poland, Greece, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden. In most of these countries there was a sizable drop in people’s favorable views of the United States after Trump moved into the White House. For example, this drop was 28 percentage points in Spain and 26 percentage points in the Netherlands. Hungary and Greece were the only two exceptions. In Hungary’s case there was a +1 move (62% to 63%) and in Greece a +5 change after Trump was elected.

Confidence in Trump as president is low everywhere in Europe. For example, 92% of Spaniards have no confidence in him, but even other European countries, including Greece and Italy, expressed very strong anti-Trump sentiments. Poland and Hungary are the last two countries on the list, each with only a 57% disapproval rate. In its opinion of the U.S.-Mexican wall, Hungary is at the bottom of the list, with a 49% disapproval rate, which may not sound like much of an endorsement until we compare it to the other European countries. The European median is 86%. Another telling figure is Hungarians’ strong approval of restrictions on entry to the United States from majority-Muslim countries. Hungary heads the list with 70% as opposed to the European median of 36%.

At the time Hungarians were also a great deal less critical of Donald Trump’s qualifications for the presidency. The European figures are devastating, but in Hungary more people believe he is qualified for the job (39%) than in any other European country. This is also true when it comes to questions about his personal traits, like his alleged arrogance and intolerance. Hungary is always at the end of the list, often together with Poland, in being the least critical. It is also telling that while overwhelming majority of Spaniards, French, Swedes, Dutch, and Germans consider Trump to be very dangerous as far as the world is concerned (76%-69%), only 42% of Hungarians do.

An intriguing situation. Within the European context Hungarians are less inclined to be harsh in their assessment of Donald Trump’s presidency. At least this was the case a few months ago. It will be fascinating to watch what happens in the coming months, especially if government media criticism of Trump’s policies becomes more widespread.

August 4, 2017
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Observer
Guest
Attention US State Dept. Amazing I.Lovas article in Magyar Hirlap linked above. Bits for non Hungarian speakers in my translation: ..What, even from the coward he [Trump] is, was a shameful act, since he restricted his role as a foreign policy leader in contravention of the American constitution, that is, submitted it to the Congress… President Trump’s short presidency has been an incredibly negative performance… Today the United States offers a terrible picture. At least in the eyes of those who do not draw conclusions from the mainstream Western press, but from the facts… It is no coincidence that so much goes through the side channels to the US Neocons, who would gladly bomb Iran tomorrow and who would conduct another NATO war games, this time not on the western side of the Russian border, but five meters in Russian territory… A few words about the “threat” represented by Iran and North Korea… Instead of the promised peace, with his cringing behavior, Trump succeeded in planting the seeds of an even greater controversy than the Obama era ones. Anyhow, all the political leaders in the world can now draw the conclusion: this man – the American president – is not… Read more »
Observer
Guest

“An intriguing situation. Within the European context Hungarians are less inclined to be harsh in their assessment of Donald Trump’s presidency”

Not intriguing at all – the Hungarians generally ignorant of foreign developments, using no other, but Hungarian language media and force-fed gov propaganda responded accordingly.

It’s just another miss in Orban’s foreign “policies”.
Admittedly it is hard to see the wide world from Felcsut, let alone lead part of the world from that level.

Bastiat2
Guest

IMHO, Obama was a puppet of the banksters, Clinton H would have been another one, probably worse, and Donald is a joke, albeit a bad one.
What has come of democracy?
I can’t help thinking of Tocqueville “On democracy in America”, written in 1835, but that foresees most of what is happening today.
When the choice left to the voters is between Charybdis and Scylla, democracy is dead.

petofi
Guest

Democracy in the US has grown rancid for a long time. The influence of the lobbyists is tantamount to short-circuiting
representative government. Is the role of lobbyists in the constitution?

Lobbyists are the scalpel-edge of big money and hidden power. They should be banned.

petofi
Guest

By the way, the Clinton Foundation is a lobby in another form.

Istvan
Guest
I have lobbied at the state and federal levels for children with disabilities for years in the USA. At the state level I was formally registered. Lobbyists have been essential to the legislative process in the USA for many years. The issues elected officals face are detailed and incredibly complex and really only specialists in the areas can inform legislation appropriately with the help of lobbyists who draft legislation that is ultimately voted on in Congress or the various State legislatures, even in City councils. Lincoln the 2012 American historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln actually depicts several lobbyists role in getting the 13th amendment passed through the Senate in 1864. This is the amendment that formally abolished slavery and its pretty hard to argue those lobbying efforts were not of value. I have also lobbied, as have many others, for numerous changes in the US veterans administration process. Those efforts have improved the lives of veterans of the Middle East wars in particular and I am proud of our work in that area. There are also many problematic processes in lobbying and corruption. The best depiction of those problems… Read more »
Jean P.
Guest

Is “corrupt lobbying” when there is money involved in some way or other?

exTor
Guest

comment image

Just want to sidebar your point, Bastiat2, IMUO [in my unhumble opinion] H Clinton was just as much a part of the ‘swamp’ (against which D Trump hypocritically [read: lyingly] railed) as anybody else [eg: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton]. The donations to her campaign were around one-billion dollars !!! That far exceeded what Trump worked with.

The fanbase for Clinton was sexist, namely older women, primarily white. Bernie Sanders got more of the youth vote than Clinton and Trump combined, likely a good sign. I get the sexist vote yearn by women, but they need more political sophistication.

Astute former MAGATs [Make America Great Again Trumpists] may feel deserted by the Donald, however there is no irony in his slither into the ‘swamp’ that he was always a part of, albeit at some remove. Bankers who could underwrite his highrise projects were part of his social circle.

MAGYARKOZÓ

ambator
Member

Oh! But remember how Ulysses has parred between the two perils, by the dint of his canning and became wiser for the experience. That is how the US always passes between the most perilous calamities, get stronger by the experience and come out on the top. This is what I expect to happen.

wrfree
Guest

‘Ulysses is son to Laertes, but he is father to Telemachus , husband to Penelope, lover of Calypso, companion in arms of the Greek warriors around Troy and King of Ithaca. He was subjected to many trials but with wisdom and courage came through them all…he is the complete man as well, a good man’. James Joyce

Perhaps both Magyarorszag and the United States
could use a ‘Ulysses’ here in the 21st. We need ‘complete men’ who can take up the charge and wrestle and win against the trials and tribulations of the age.

Homer and Joyce see the thread hanging between humanity through the millenia as they present poetic glimpses of lives lived by endurance and ingenuity as all struggle to create ‘home and hearth’ and love in their ‘Ithacas’.

Jean P.
Guest

Ulysses let all his men perish.

Ivan
Guest

He was always trying to save them, but they sabotaged his efforts.

Member
wrfree
Guest

Thanks for the vid. Mr. Berg’s mother and mine thought alike. She told him to ‘stay out of politics’. Mine went even further ‘don’t even set foot there’. I guess both of us disbeyed. It’s a wonder what you can see when one gets out in the world.

Not sure if he saw one of the comments to his interview calling CEU a ‘center of anarchy’ but I think he’d agree with me that being born and raised in America gives another perspective in why ‘ancien regimes’ were dumped and we threw the Brits out. It was time for ‘change’.

Good luck to Mr. Berg in his efforts. He just reminded me to write some more chiming in on what the hell is going on in that ancestral country of ours. He’s right of course. It’s a bellwether alright. But unfortunately it always seems has problems making good decisions.

ambator
Member

Aha! So that’s how it is called in English:cockchafer! What a relief! I have often spoke of and even showed the damned pest to my wife, but never new how it was properly called.
Cockchafer! Is it?
Splendid. It was about time to learn it and learn it I did, but good.-
Thanks.
Now if you could only tell how the ”lótetű” is called.

exTor
Guest

comment image

I have no experience with the insect known in Hungarian as the ‘májusi cserebogár’, never having (knowingly) seen it, nor even being aware of it.

comment image

I had to evict a ‘poloska’ [stinkbug] from my apartment yesterday after I’d intercepted it. Last year we experienced a stinkbug infestation here.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Aida
Guest

I always thought “poloska” was a bedbug. If I am wrong what is it?

exTor
Guest

comment image

https://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ágyi_poloska [MAGYAR]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedbug [ENGLISH]

Hungarians refer to a bedbug as ‘ágyi poloska’.
I was confused for a while over the similarity.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Aida
Guest

Cserebogar, not a May-bug?

exTor
Guest

comment image

https://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Májusi_cserebogár

Seems to be my time to wax entomological.

The cockchafer [cserebogár] is referred to as a maybug, junebug or doodlebug in North America, terms that I’ve heard before.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Aida
Guest

To me it is a reminder of Petofi’s poem, Szulofoldem. I can never read it without being deeply moved.

wrfree
Guest

The ‘angol’ equivalent.
Wonder what Zsolt could do with that one…I sure could tell his ‘Magyar’ equivalent..😎

Aida
Guest

Does anyone know if there is a nursery song “cserebogar sarga cserebogar”?

Petofi rounds off his poem with his former “dajka” taking him in her arms age 25 and singing the song. She probably was in her late 30s so our horny poet may have other reasons to remeber the event. What do you think?

petofi
Guest

Thanks, exTor.
I’ve never seen so many pictures of Hungarians..

exTor
Guest

comment image

http://magyar-irodalom.elte.hu/sulinet/igyjo/setup/portrek/petofi/szulofol.htm
[Szülőföldön – Petőfi Sándor]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tshCv4Shf5g
[Cserebogár, sárga cserebogár – Simándy József]

MAGYARKOZÓ

Aida
Guest

Thank you

exTor
Guest

comment image

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlQrVBdtcuw
[Szülőföldemen – Petőfi Sándor, Félegyháza, 1848 June 6–8]

I mistitled the Petőfi poem as Szülőföldön, so I’m taking this opportunity to set the record right and to suggest a listen to its rendition by Latinovits, who died 41 years ago –”tragikus hírtelenséggel elhunyt”, per a news item of the day. I think that many old-time Hungarians will remember him. The words to the poem can be found on the YouTube page.

http://index.hu/belfold/tegnapiujsag/2009/06/05/1976_meghal_latinovits_zoltan

MAGYARKOZÓ

exTor
Guest

comment image

I thought that I would finish my entomology stint with a nifty photofile that I could not pass up. It is sourced in the English-language Wikipedia bedbug article, which states that this is a digitally colorized scanning-electron micrograph [SEM] showing the skin-piercing mouthparts highlighted in purple and red. Better than an Andy Warhol.

MAGYARKOZÓ

wpDiscuz