Doubling Up

Donald Trump is an outrage.

I guess so? But has he misbehaved in ways that previous Presidents whom we revere did not?

Upping the expulsion rate of immigrants?

No, Obama did that.

Disengaging from the USA’s global role?

No, again, Obama bailed out early from Iraq and did nothing when Assad crossed the red line on chemical weapons.

But what about undermining the world legal order, for example, by attacking the WTO?

But was it supportive of that legal order for Trump’s predecessors to allow the Chinese to continue to ride rough shod over and flout the WTO rules unchallenged?

But he’s a protectionist: look at his approach to NAFTA and China.

Really, but are you saying the Canadians wanting to maintain tariffs of 200/300% on dairy products wasn’t protectionist? And did I hear you complaining when Obama used the same powers to protect the US tyre industry from Chinese imports

OK, OK: but what about his womanising and sexual history?

Ah yes. But at least he hasn’t, like Clinton, use the Oval Office for having sex or like Kennedy shared a mistress with a mafia boss.

But more seriously, look at the politicisation of the Supreme Court.

Outrageous, though not quite up to FDR’s attempt to increase the number of justices and pack the court with his nominees.

OK, again. But what about his confrontational foreign policy?

So far, a pale shadow of, say, the Bay of Pigs, the undermining of socialist regimes in South America or indeed the assassination of the Prime Minister of South Vietnam under the Kennedy regime and its pursuit of the Vietnam War. And perhaps we should note that in confronting North Korea, a task shunned by his predecessor, Trump seems to have created the best chance for reconciling North and South since the end of the war in 1947.

That’s all very well, but what about his attitude to his allies and particularly to NATO?

What about it? Are you seriously suggesting that the free-riding by the Germans and others was strengthening the alliance or that the gentler approach of his predecessors was having any effect?

All very well. But his regime is tainted by corruption.

You mean unlike the Lincoln and Johnson years or Daddy Kennedy’s  use of the ‘Chicago school’ to lever his son Jack into the Oval Office.

But then there is the nepotism. Bringing his family into government.

Did you make the same complaint when Jack Kennedy made his brother Attorney General or Bill put Hilary in charge of health care reforms when he became President?

So, you are happy to see Trump in the White House?

I am not. He’s a right-wing son of a bitch and, of course, he is loud, vulgar and ill- educated. But much worse, unlike the previous sinners in the White House, he does not even try to save our blushes by hiding his sins or offering devious and weasel words that allow us to avoid being embarrassed.

Then why are you defending him?

I am not.

Then what are you doing?

I am trying to persuade my fellow liberals not to make Trump’s case for him by applying double standards and thus showing ourselves to be the very bunch of double dealing hypocrites that his supporters know us to be.


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