There is something particularly abhorrent about a political leader who disparages his fellow citizens on foreign soil and takes the side of murderous tyrants over American patriots. But that is precisely what Donald Trump has been doing while on his golf and sumo junket to Japan. He explicitly lashed out at his political foes in a way that borders on disloyalty and even betrayal.
When Trump landed in Tokyo, he almost immediately launched a hostile assault on Joe Biden, one of his potential opponents for president in 2020. In doing so he gleefully took sides with the America-hating North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un. Trump tweeted that he “smiled when [Kim] called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual.” Let’s set aside the fact that this exchange almost certainly never happened. It’s even worse if Trump invented it in his own diseased mind.
Trump later doubled down on these vile insults with comments during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He told the world’s media that “I don’t take sides as to who I’m in favor of and who I’m not, but I can tell you that Joe Biden was a disaster.” Notice that he contradicted himself in the space of a single sentence by claiming to not take sides, and then taking sides against Biden.
Then on Monday morning – Memorial Day – Trump tainted the holiday of reverence for departed patriots by once again raising the issue of his preference for Kim over Biden. This time he couched his animus in a tweet that attempted to celebrate some imaginary victory over what he routinely refers to as the “Fake News.”
.@ianbremmer now admits that he MADE UP “a completely ludicrous quote,” attributing it to me. This is what’s going on in the age of Fake News. People think they can say anything and get away with it. Really, the libel laws should be changed to hold Fake News Media accountable!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2019
As he does frequently, Trump fails to let anyone know what the heck he’s talking about. He cites an alleged admission of error by an Ian Bremmer, but doesn’t say who that is or what his misstatement was. As it turns out, Bremmer is a political scientist who posted a humorous tweet the day before. It said “President Trump in Tokyo: ‘Kim Jong Un is smarter and would make a better President than Sleepy Joe Biden.'” Most people would have seen that this was a satirical comment that was based on Trump’s actual stated opinions. Nevertheless, because it was presented as a “quote,” Bremmer deleted the tweet and apologized for not having been clearer about it being a joke. That was hardly necessary. Not only was the humor obvious, the message was accurate.
None of that, however, stopped Trump from exploiting the matter in his own indignant tweet. He referred to it as “completely ludicrous,” which it definitely was not. Then he tried to smear all of the media as “fake,” despite the fact the Bremmer is not a journalist and does not represent any media organization. And then Trump complained about people getting away with saying anything they want. Apparently he would prefer that we abolish free speech and only permit officially approved statements. What’s more, for someone who has been documented to have lied more than 10,000 times, Trump’s complaint comes off as a rather hysterical hypocrisy.
Finally, Trump once again advocates for reforming libel laws so that he can sue those he believes have offended him. He has been doing this since his presidency began, and probably before that. News Corpse reported one especially notable meeting last year wherein Trump said that his administration would “take a strong look” at libel law reforms, which he apparently forgot to do. Not that it was really necessary. There are adequate laws already in place that prohibit the media from knowingly making false statements. But what Trump is proposing would very likely blow up in his face, as noted in the article linked above:
“No one has exposed himself to more potential libel allegations than Donald Trump. Every time he calls a reporter a liar, or asserts as fact that unnamed sources don’t exist, or alleges that a story was deliberately made up, Trump is slandering those reporters and harming their reputations and careers. Every time he lashes out with his juvenile nicknames at people he is claiming are ‘lyin,’ ‘failing,’ or ‘crooked,’ he is asserting a falsehood that could trigger litigation under his reforms.”
Trump couldn’t really care less about libel laws. All he wants is the ability to suppress dissent by intimidating his critics with threats of bogus lawsuits. He views everything in terms of the mob-style thuggery that he was accustomed to using in his Manhattan real estate business. And he thinks he can transfer that to White House politics. But he is likely to be sorely disappointed. His efforts to malign the media in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people,” along with his displays of affection for foreign dictators over Americans, is not likely to be a successful strategy. That isn’t how you win the hearts and minds of the nation. And Trump’s historically low approval ratings are pretty good evidence that his hate-spewing methods don’t work.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.