If it walks like corruption, quacks like corruption and has feathers like corruption, Congressional Republicans and Trump’s worshippers will duck the implications. So obvious is the stink that a sort of religious devotion is required to excuse it. Which they do.
Remember those tough-guy tariffs on China? Have Trumpophiles dismissed how cleverly Xi upstaged him? Canceled billions in orders from US farmers, replaced them with sales from Russia. How quickly Trump caved! Do Trump’s supplicants rationalize the relation between his sanctions on ZTE, a Chinese telecom company about whose products security experts had warned our government against purchasing, and the fact that hours after Trump properties in Indonesia got a half-billion-dollar loan from China, he reversed them?
How about Elliott Broidy, billionaire bigwig in the RNC, before resigning after paying over a million in hush-money to a Playboy “model” he’d reportedly impregnated and pressured into an abortion? He also slid 200 grand into Michael Cohen’s hush fund. Am I the only person suspicious about who actually impregnated the lady? (Okay, wild speculation based on nothing more than, you know, clear-eyed character assessment and past history.) Either way, Broidy and his company profited handsomely after the election, raking in nearly a billion bucks from Saudi Arabia and the UAE for his lobbying against Qatar, and around $800 million in defense contracts. A company that, before the election, had done only a few thousand dollars’ worth of defense work. Nice return for (agreeing to?) brief embarrassment.
Speaking of the Qatar business: Trump’s sudden policy switch against them, despite their being an ally in whose country our biggest military base in the region resides, followed (mere coincidence, all praise to Trump) their refusal to bail out Jared Kushner’s white elephant, money-sucking, sign-of-the-devil mistake in Manhattan. Then, and please be sitting down, Trump’s policy toward Qatar turned favorable again, right after they rethought their refusal and agreed to pony up.
So what, say the devotees, between sips of Kool-Aid. It’s exactly the shrewd businessman we found so holy, er, wholly vote-worthy in the first place. Except back then, when he got sued thousands of times, went bankrupt repeatedly and stiffed the people he hired, it was between him and those he cheated. Now, it’s the foreign policy and reputation of our country he’s bleeding for self-enrichment. Written with feathers on parchment, for obvious reasons, there are laws against that sort of thing, currently ignored by those constitutionally empowered to prevent such peculation (among other patriotic obligations in which they’re derelict). Ho hum, remark the idolaters, while ingesting the Trumpal bull on FBI “spies.” The FBI, which studiously avoided announcing their investigation of Trump during the campaign. The FBI, another protection against tyranny.
Then there’s Trump’s overweening neediness in shoving his way into the limelight when those hostages (about whom he lied) returned home. US President Barack Obama, not wishing to be the focus of attention on the return of 10 North Korean hostages during his presidency, skipped homecomings. Contrasting Trump, Obama also understood gloating would signal the manipulative usefulness of taking more hostages. Let’s give Trump a pass in this case, though: long-range thinking isn’t his forte. You can’t get a turnip out of the barn.
But Trumpists revere his brilliance at handling our enemies. Like Kim Jong-un, who, it turns out, played him like a two-dollar geomungo. Stop war games with South Korea or the summit is off, Kim demanded. Broadcasting to the world how his narcissism creates vulnerability to manipulation, Trump buckled, while calling Kim “very honorable.” (Imagine if Obama had said that!) Finally, after Kim demanded even more, Trump, realizing his unwitting exposure, canceled before Kim could. This is what happens when cultists empower a man so incapable of learning or taking advice from people who know their job. Which excludes John Bolton, who made the dumbest possible analogy between Trump’s Korean policy and Libya. The only characteristic as widespread among Trump’s team as corruption is incompetence. And hypocrisy. And enriching the rich while punishing the poor. As long as he feeds their prejudices and stokes their self-pity, Trumpists will excuse anything. That’s their deal with the devil.
I’m not the first to address the cult-like behavior of those still genuflecting at the altar of Trump. There’s a difference, though. Unlike Jim Jones’ Kool-Aid, Trump’s kills slowly, almost imperceptibly, afflicting even those who refuse to imbibe.