Last week, my neighbor for these Wednesday sessions denounced the New York Times for criticizing President Trump. Setting his foundation on weak and shifting sand, Steve Fair referenced the Gridiron Dinner the previous Saturday in Washington: “President Trump broke with tradition and chose not to participate last year and was roundly criticized by the media. This year he showed up and the media blasted him. In Sunday’s New York Times the editorial board said Trump’s praise for Chinese President Xi Jinping promoted ‘authoritarianism’. At the satirical dinner Trump said about Xi: ‘He’s now president for life. No, he’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday’.”
“The Times said, ‘There’s something in the man that impels him reflexively to celebrate the authoritarian model. Mr. Trump was surely joking about becoming president for life himself. But there can be little doubt now that he truly sees no danger in Mr. Xi’s great decision to extend his own rule until death’”
In trying to defend his racist, misogynistic, incompetent and proudly ignorant standard-bearer (and the president who has made the U.S. a laughingstock worldwide), Mr. Fair writes “Trump’s remarks about China’s Xi shouldn’t be taken serious. They were made in jest. The Times is just looking for something to criticize. Trump gives the media enough ammo on policy and rhetoric without their sensationalizing a remark made at a roast.”
Except, it wasn’t.
Mike Murphy of MarketWatch clarifies the issue: “In closed-door remarks Saturday, President Donald Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent consolidation of power, and wondered if someday the U.S. could have a president for life. “’He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great. . . And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day’.”
“CNN reported the comments were made Saturday at a private lunch and fundraiser with Republican donors at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida…. “Later Saturday, Trump delivered some better-received jokes at the Gridiron Dinner in Washington, an annual gala where journalists and Washington insiders traditionally trade good-natured barbs. While the remark was apparently made in jest, it rubbed many the wrong way.” Despite his assertions to the contrary at the Gridiron Dinner later that night, President Trump is not known for self-deprecating humor, and most of his jokes that night were directed at others.
There is a difference between suggesting a dictatorship behind closed doors among the fat cats paying you back for the largess you are sending their way – in a manner reminiscent of Putin’s Russian oligarchy which Trump admires so much – and joking in front of a crowd of journalistic witnesses.
Right now, American robber barons are content with fear-mongering, disinformation campaigns to trick voters into supporting their greed. But, they tried for a fascist coup once before to protect their avarice. (They failed because they chose a conservative Marine to be their point man, evidently ignorant as to what “Semper Fidelis” means.)
Over this past weekend, Trump also called for death to drug dealers, echoing another of the tyrants he admires, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, whose war on drugs has resulted in about 6,000 extrajudicial killings, about 2,100 during police operations, the rest by unprosecuted vigilantes.
Since Mr. Fair so often religiousizes his political commentary, let’s say his misstatement of facts to be an honest error, not part of the big lie barrage from the president and perhaps the most dishonest preacher’s daughter in history. (Rev. Huckabee is no doubt proud.) I wouldn’t even classify it with the “white lies” Hope Hicks admitted to recently.
It does show how desperate one might get trying to find any way to justify the president’s words and deeds – grasping at straws to find a straw man to attack – and an enemy aligned with the president who fears and, therefore, hates the honest press – and divert attention away from the corruption and chaos in the White House.
(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)