When Donald Trump spoke at the UN, everyone laughed. Now, Uncle Sam is just sad By Bradley Blankenship, an American journalist, columnist and political commentatorBy Bradley Blankenship, an American journalist, columnist and political commentator@BradBlank_US President Joe Biden addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at U.N. headquarters on September 19, 2023 in New York City. © Adam Gray/Getty Images

Ahead of the latest UN General Assembly meeting in New York City, where US President Joe Biden gave a speech, the X (formerly Twitter) account of Republicans against Trump invited users to remember the time the world literally laughed at Donald Trump five years ago. Representatives from around the world erupted in laughter as the president gloated about his administration, which he said had accomplished more than any other in history – which he didn’t intend as a punchline.

“When we see a behavior or listen to arguments or notions that seem so far-fetched, unreasonable, or insane, there is [an] almost natural reaction of laughing,” one diplomat told BuzzFeed News at the time, the account noted. This situation creates a natural juxtaposition that begs the question, is American leadership respected now more than it was under Trump? A cursory glance at the official White House transcript of Biden’s own General Assembly speech this week suggests the answer is ‘no.’

Just into his second sentence, we see him having said about his latest journey to Vietnam: “And I met a small group of veterans, Americans and Vietnamese, who (sic) wit- – and I wa- – I watched an exchange of personal artifacts from that war – identification cards and a diary. It was deeply moving to see the reaction of the Vietnamese and American soldiers.”

US is ‘going to hell’ – Trump US is ‘going to hell’ – Trump

We also see later on that the White House had to correct Biden’s misspeaking: “… And this year, we’re proud to rejoin UNESCO. But we also recognize that to meet the new challenges of our decades-old institutions and approaches, they must be updated to keep (sic) peace [pace] with the world.”

If you watch the speech, it’s clear that the 80-year-old president bumbled his way through it. Not only did he stutter, misspeak, and generally demonstrate his visible decline in recent years, but he sang the same old US platitudes that don’t resonate with the rest of the world. For example, he said, when referring to the UN’s work, “We avoided the renewal of global conflict while lifting more than one billion people – one billion people – out of extreme poverty.” He didn’t, of course, give credit to the principal nation responsible for poverty eradication, China.

Given Biden’s extensive political career, having served in the Senate’s foreign affairs committee for decades and as vice president in the Obama administration, many of the diplomats and leaders in attendance certainly know him. Not only are they familiar with him, they probably saw him when he was a lot sharper. So, the prevailing attitude when they see a visibly diminished Biden stammer through his address is probably one of pity. I know that, when I see the 80-year-old, it just feels like elder abuse at this point.

The American people certainly feel this way. An Associated Press/NORC poll in April found that 26% of respondents would like to see Biden run again in 2024, versus 73% who said he shouldn’t. Most people feel that the president is too old to seek reelection, even though he’s already pledged to run again. Most also feel that Trump, who is facing a litany of criminal charges related to his attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, shouldn’t run either. This feeling is more pronounced with casual observers abroad, who are left asking among themselves: is this really the best America has to offer?

If the US economy is doing great, why are most Americans not feeling it? If the US economy is doing great, why are most Americans not feeling it?

This situation before the UN, thus, feels like a microcosm of where America stands in the world today: The world laughed at the US under Trump, as he single-handedly destroyed some of Washington’s most precious political and military partnerships, and, now, it can’t help but feel pity for America and its clearly waning prestige. The Trump years were more dramatic and bombastic; the Biden years are filled with quiet shame.

If elected again, Trump could pull the US out of NATO, which would be an objectively good thing for an antiquated institution with no serious justification for its existence, while Biden, who was expected to unite the world under the American banner, has seriously fallen short of expectations. In either case, US leadership is in irreversible decline, leaving the world and its emerging poles to fill this vacuum with new and innovative structures.

The American people, in this upcoming election, are left in a ‘damned if they do, damned if they don’t’ situation over their nation’s position as the leading hegemon. No matter who wins next year, Uncle Sam will not be the world’s dominant power within the next five years.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.