Let’s play “Jeopardy,” where the answers are questions. If Alex Trebek were to ask contestants to specify “A glaring contrast between Queen Elizabeth II and President Donald Trump,” the correct response would be “What are class and crass?”
Of course, there are other differences between the two. The player says, “I’ll take ‘Liz and Don’ for $400!” Alex would read, “The one who served in the military.” The winning answer-question would be “Who is the Queen of England?” Certainly it’s not the president of the United States.
As we all know, Trump’s rich daddy got a podiatrist to write up a diagnosis of bone spurs for his son, real or imagined, which meant that he got to avoid the draft. The queen, then princess, who had a rich daddy herself, begged and pleaded until he allowed her to enlist in England’s uniformed Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II. She served as a mechanic and truck driver.
We’ll never know if that thought crossed her royal mind as she sat beside the president during ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. He certainly was on his best behavior and did nothing that would have turned the solemn commemoration from D-Day into T-Day.
In fact, he was relatively subdued during his entire visit to London — a state visit complete with all the pomp and ceremony that the Brits do better than anyone. Trump, as we well know, loves pomp and ceremony. Now that he’s witnessed the spectacle that greeted him in London, do not be at all surprised if Commander in Chief Trump returns to the U.S. and insists on the creation of an elite unit, whose uniforms include the big bearskin hats that the Coldstream Guards wear.
Oh sure, there were demonstrations too, complete with that fat-baby balloon, but he didn’t seem to notice. He also didn’t seem to notice those subtle digs from Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Theresa May.
Addressing Trump at her state banquet in Buckingham Palace, the queen, in her oh-so-proper way, cited the two nations’ postwar cooperation in creating “an assembly of international institutions.” Since President Trump has trashed those very same institutions, like NATO, put that down as a sneer on the usual royal stiff upper lip.
Meanwhile, outgoing Prime Minister May gave the American leader Winston Churchill’s own draft of the 1941 Atlantic Charter. That document years later became an underlying argument for the United Nations, another body that Donald Trump regularly disparages. So that was more snark — deftly administered, of course. It’s likely that it was so deft that POTUS didn’t even notice, but his political enemies back home could take some lessons in nuanced put-downs from those two. Perhaps it’s their British accent.
Whatever the national style, both countries are flirting with economic disaster. The U.K. has Brexit, negotiations over the bitterly contested divorce from the European Union, which is the manifestation of a harsh swing to the right. The U.S. has the prospect of tariffs, used as a weapon that does great harm to both the target nation and the one pulling the trigger.
Back to our game show: If Alex Trebek’s clue is “It’s the future of both the U.S. and U.K.,” the correct question is “What is in serious jeopardy?”
Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.