My next newspaper column:
Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s backhoe, backed and filled his way across China last week, insisting Trump’s groveling praise of Communist China’s leader was tongue-in-cheek. Given overlapping anatomic nomenclature, it wasn’t entirely clarifying. Later, Trump yukked it up with the self-admitted murderer/dictator of the Philippines. Donald’s mimesis of despots is well-honed by now.
During what we may presume was his first annual performance review from Putin, in Danang (where I spent my portion of the Vietnam War), Trump called our former intelligence leaders “political hacks” and, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary (which he’s seen), genuflected in Vlad’s general direction, regarding election-meddling innocence. Inexplicably, his followers believe this does us proud. Had President Barack Obama said such things, the right-wing scream machine would have called him a traitor and Congress would be half-way through impeachment. Can there be any doubt?
Like Putin, Xi must see in Trump a useful buffoon, distractible from their global agendas with a little low-cost flattery. Throw him a parade, dandle his ego. Do a deal with Boeing here, GE there, let him crow about his believe-me negotiating skills. Meanwhile, as Trump greatens America back to the nineteenth century, Xi is leading China to twenty-first century dominance. As Trump pulls out, Xi fashions trade agreements around the world, excluding the US. One such deal was finalized in Vietnam, even as Trump’s tough-guy America-first words were thudding like a deflated football.
Xi is playing three-dimensional chess, Trump is playing slapjack. It’s embarrassing. Obvious to all but Trump and his co-dependents, the world’s most authoritarian leaders are manipulating his narcissistic neediness like silly putty.
China is investing huge amounts of money into solar and other alternative energy sources, and working to improve the air quality of its cities. (It produces a third of Earth’s solar power, and, far ahead of second-place US, leads the world in wind power.) Slashing alternative energy funding, boosting coal and other fossil fuels, Trump is deliberately polluting our atmosphere as the rest of the world cleans up. Over Trump’s silence on human rights during his trip, actual world leaders are speaking out. One wonders what Trump expects from capitulating to our adversaries. A golf course in the Forbidden City? Sanctuary in Moscow?
While Trump drags us into destructive (but, to his dead-enders, crowd-pleasing) rejection of global ties, China is investing a trillion dollars into infrastructure connections with Europe, giving Xi greater access to world markets and more ways to project economic power. Trump belittles science (eschewing a tradition of respect, he won’t be greeting this year’s American Nobel Prize winners). China now has the world’s fastest supercomputers. Trumpists believe he’s putting America first.
Back home, Congressional Republicans stopped pretending their plans, created in secret, without hearings, help ordinary Americans. “I misspoke,” said Mitch McConnell, after promising tax cuts for middle and lower class Americans. Republicans designed their scheme, expressly, to benefit rich donors, most of whom won’t reinvest their largesse. Lindsey Graham said so. Mike Lee and Chris Collins said so.
They admit choosing enrichment of their bankrollers (and, thereby, themselves) over helping average citizens: students, veterans, parents who adopt. Teachers, university workers, people with high medical expenses. The disabled, businesses that invest in poor communities. Recipients of Medicare and Medicaid. All harmed, specifically, intentionally, by Republican tax “reform.” Frosting stale cake, Trump just ended a program that supplies veterans with therapy dogs. This is gratuitous cruelty.
So: Trump demeans our intelligence services while glorifying our adversaries; pig-headedly makes the US a bit player on the world stage. (We’re now the only country to reject the Paris Climate Agreement, benefitting polluters, harming us.) Congressional Republicans gift wealthy donors, paid for by hurting average people, including their supporters, who, incomprehensibly, don’t mind. Is manipulating fears and hatreds really all it takes to deceive them?
C’mon, old-school Republicans! The man who would be king is even pressuring DOJ to go after his opponents. Surely you see the danger in what’s happening.
Trumpists claim he’s turning the economy around after Obama ruined it; insist Trump is respected around the world. That’s impressively ossified Foxification, but clarifying: attempting to enlighten such people is effort wasted. What must take precedence is reaching the reachable: those who didn’t vote, regretful Trump supporters, people capable of processing the urgency of turning these deplorables out of office. People like those who just voted in Virginia.[Image source]