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Who Had ‘War With Denmark’ on Their Trump Bingo Card?

Oddly enough? Ted Cruz.
August 21, 2019
Who Had ‘War With Denmark’ on Their Trump Bingo Card?
Composite image of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (left) and U.S. President Donald Trump. (Photos by Tobias SCHWARZ and Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ,NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Yesterday was a mixture of outrage and farce, so naturally we’ll begin with the stuff that is almost, but not quite, beyond parody.

A little bit of context is helpful here: We are in the midst of a trade war that threatens the economy, the nation is still recovering from mass shootings, there are massive pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, delicate negotiations with the Taliban, the Norks are still testing missiles and the president is … obsessing about the purchase of Greenland. Which is not for sale. And canceling his visit to Denmark, which wasn’t supposed to be about that at all. 

In fairness, he also accused Jews who vote for Democrats of “disloyalty,” and floated the suggestion of readmitting Russia to the G-7 (it was kicked out for annexing Crimea). But it’s hard not to be distracted, at least for a bit, by the Denmark thing. 

By the way, it appears that Ted Cruz called this shot back in 2016:

“I don’t know anyone who would be comfortable with someone who behaves this way having his finger on the button,” Cruz continued. “I mean, we’re liable to wake up one morning and Donald, if he were president, would have nuked Denmark. That’s not the temperament of a leader to keep this country safe.”

Ah, memories.

Of course, Trump has not actually, literally nuked Denmark yet. But it is certainly worth thinking about, especially if he decides that he needs another distraction to polish his battered #winning brand. 

Which brings me, naturally, to my recommendation of a movie that you really need to watch as we try to figure out how to navigate through our real-time farcical history.

The Mouse That Roared was released 60 years ago, and it was Peter Sellers’s first big hit. I remember watching it as a child and loving it. In the movie, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick faces financial ruin and comes up with an ingenious plan: 

Grand Fenwick will declare war on the United States, then surrender, taking advantage of American largesse toward its defeated enemies to rebuild the defeated nation’s economy. 

Unfortunately, the plan goes badly awry after they can’t get the U.S. to accept their surrender. I won’t give away the rest. So, as we prepare for the Great Conflict with (checks notes again) Denmark, go watch it. I’m hoping it will feel more like a distraction than a documentary. 

To be honest, I haven’t rewatched it yet, so I can’t say if its late-1950s vibe has aged well. And of course, the bar for absurdity has been lowered; but its premise is really no more ridiculous than today’s headlines. 

You’ll thank me.

Charlie Sykes

Charlie Sykes is a founder and editor-at-large of The Bulwark and the author of How the Right Lost Its Mind. He is also the host of The Bulwark Podcast and an MSNBC contributor.