If there is one place in Europe that President Trump might want to visit, it's Poland. And Poland is reportedly rolling out the AstroTurf for his visit, aiming to inflate Trump's popularity as he drops in for a brief visit.
Both the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that Trump has been promised a positive reception, with the Polish government and its allies facilitating an effort to bus in supporters to give Trump a warm welcome.
Here's the Journal:
In lobbying for Mr. Trump’s visit in recent months, Polish officials made a promise of a positive reception for the president part of their pitch. Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said in an interview Wednesday with The Wall Street Journal that he told Mr. Trump, on the sidelines of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Brussels in May: “Please visit us, your soldiers are already here, you can follow, and you can visit a country which is friendly.”
Mr. Trump responded, according to Mr. Waszczykowski, that “Polish Americans helped him win” the presidential election.
“I said, ‘Well, we can help you once again ... if you visit us and cooperate with us,’” Mr. Waszczykowski recalled.
In case there was any doubt that Trump is hugely susceptible to appeals to his vanity, there it is. And kudos to Waszczykowski for a candid acknowledgment of his overtures to Trump.
Trump does have reason to be optimistic that his reception in Poland will be better than other places. A recent Pew survey of 38 leading countries showed it was among the most positive toward the United States, with 73 percent of Poles having favorable views and 15 percent having unfavorable ones.
Poland is also on the more nationalistic side of the debate over refugees and immigrants, making the country a natural fit for Trump. And lots of Polish American voters happen to be in key 2020 states along the Rust Belt like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. All of these states have hundreds of thousands of Polish Americans and proved vital to Trump's election. Wisconsin is about one-10th Polish American.
Indeed, this isn't the first time a politician's visit to Poland was seen as politically expedient. President Barack Obama visited just a few months before his 2012 reelection bid, with those same states seen as possibly vulnerable to native Michigander Mitt Romney.
Organizers quoted by the Journal are practically giddy about Trump's visit and the looming spectacle.
“It’s going to be huge — absolutely huge,” said pro-government Polish politician Dominik Tarczynski, who is organizing a busload of Trump supporters. “They just love him, the people in Poland — they just really love him.”
But that's just not true. And should Trump be greeted with an overwhelmingly positive reception, it will be deceptive. That same Pew study that showed Poland was uniquely pro-U.S. also showed that doesn't translate to Trump personally. Fully 57 percent of Poles said they don't have confidence in Trump to do the right thing on the world stage, while just 23 percent said they do.
Of course, these details are likely to be lost in Trump's and the White House's accounting of his visit. We don't need to remind you of how they handled his inauguration crowd being smaller than Obama's. And then there was Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, where Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pointed to the lack of protests against Trump as a sign of a successful trip — ignoring the fact that the kingdom generally doesn't tolerate dissent.
The Poland visit seems likely to be a similarly misleading spectacle, but at least it'll be a spectacle.