On Thursday, a video leaked showing Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull mimicking Trump’s unique speaking style and exaggerated hand gestures, and stealing his lines: “The Donald and I, we are winning and winning in the polls. We are winning so much! We are winning like we have never won before,” said Turnbull, to raucous laughter from the audience at the Australian Parliament’s annual midwinter ball.
“Not the fake polls,” he continues. “They’re the ones we’re not winning in.”
Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull mocks Trump: 'We are winning in the polls. Not the fake polls…I have this Russian guy…Believe me." pic.twitter.com/f3r3MpcYzi
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 15, 2017
If you watch the video, it is undeniably funny. The prime minister later tried to downplay it, claiming that he was actually making fun of himself, not Trump. “It’s a good-humored roast,” said Turnbull, according to the BBC. “My speech was affectionately light-hearted.”
But even though Turnbull thought his comments were off the record, he was still mocking the US president as a pompous clown in front of a room full of journalists and fellow politicians. When viewed in a wider context, that’s more than a bit unnerving. This is an ally of the United States blatantly demonstrating that he doesn’t take the president seriously.
Ian Bremmer, an American political scientist and president of the global risk-assessment firm Eurasia Group, argues that Turnbull’s charade shows that world leaders think Trump is the “least capable person ever to sit in the office” and are “appalled” that they have to work with him.