Alan Zendell, October 15, 2018
Ever since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president he has made it clear that he has no respect for the Federal Reserve Board and the economic models they use to maintain a stable economic environment. It was thus no surprise when he went on a rant about the “crazy interest rate hike” last week or that he displayed complete ignorance about it. He believes that only he drives the markets – how dare the Fed take its role seriously? His main concern is the mid-term election and the harm a falling stock market might cause to Republicans. The modest hits to stock prices last week will be forgotten by Election Day.
What should not be forgotten is the importance of this election for everyone who believes that there’s more to maintaining America’s greatness than healthy stock prices. Take the rule of law, for example. We are continually reminded that our president has a very different view of that than most Americans.
The case of the mysterious disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi national who has been writing for the Washington Post and living in the United States is almost a microcosm of what most Americans find abhorrent about Trump. As we have seen repeatedly, our President considers denial of accusations to be proof of innocence. As a devotee of the Roy Cohn Philosophy of Jurisprudence, Trump has always relied on denial as proof of his own innocence, whether he was in court defending himself against charges of fraud and corrupt business practices or in the court of public opinion against credible accusations of sexual misconduct by nearly twenty women.
We saw it in his defense of Brett Kavanaugh, his unwillingness to deal with corrupt Cabinet members, and again today. Trump seems to unquestioningly accept Saudi King Salman’s “very strong denial” that his government had nothing to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance despite mounting intelligence that Saudi operatives had him killed. With the whole world listening, Trump endorsed Salman’s alternate theory that Khashoggi was the victim of rogue killers. One has to wonder if they’re related to the four-hundred pound man in a bathtub who Trump suggested was the real hacker who interfered with our election in 2016. Given Vladimir Putin’s denial of Russian responsibility, any other explanation was preferable.
Equally disturbing are the other issues raised by the Khashoggi case. Khashoggi was an unabashed critic of the Saudi government’s policies, much like the journalists and media outlets Trump refers to as enemies of the people. Is that why he is so willing to accept the King’s denial? This is the same King Salman who unequivocally denied Saudi involvement in the nine-eleven attacks. Robert W. Jordan, our ambassador to Saudi Arabia at the time, said this morning that today’s denials are no more credible than the one’s he made back then.
This case is also an example of the degree to which Trump scoffs at the notion of America taking the moral high ground in world affairs. He claims that punishing Saudi Arabia by canceling our massive arms deal with them would hurt American jobs and defense contractors, while many, including our European allies and Ambassador Jordan suggest that the only action necessary would be withholding shipments of spare parts, which would quickly ground the Saudi Air Force. That’s the same Air Force that is accused of bombing civilians in Yemen, which Trump excuses as an unfortunate consequence of the ongoing battle against Iran.
The same president who has repeatedly accused our allies of acting against our interests and has unleashed a massive trade war, primarily against China, suddenly fears that punishing Saudi Arabia in any meaningful way would weaken our ability to counter Iran. That simply makes no sense. It’s more likely that Trump’s financial involvement with the Saudi Royal family plays a large role in this decision, much the way many people suspect his financial entanglements with Russian oligarchs seem to always give Putin and Russia a free pass.
As our election nears, these are the things Americans need to be concerned about. Trump has shown an uncanny ability to intimidate his own party, which makes their control of Congress a real peril for our nation. Our Constitution was built on checks and balances which are in serious danger of being permanently undermined. The most important thing Americans who care about our nation’s future can do in this election is assure that there is a strong, loyal opposition to a president who would prefer to act without any restraint.
Trump loves to tell voters that he is on the ballot this year, and he’s right. There’s nothing more critical at stake than the restoration of a vital two-party system.