A lot of outrage regarding the White House statement about the Turkish journalist Khashoggi’s murder. Understandably so. I suppose. And I’ll explain the “I suppose” part. Khashoggi, who, as I understand, is a distant cousin of the arms dealer with the same last name, who became an almost household name in the eighties in India around Bofors. The statement itself is is “incoherent, moronic and imbecilic” as one commentator pointed out, or as the chess Grandmaster turned crusader for civil liberties Gary Kasparov tweeted: “Lowering the bar even when it seems impossible is Trump’s superpower.” All that is true. The statement truly reads like it was written by Trump himself and not one of his lackeys. Or written by one of lackeys so it sounds exactly like he wrote it. For example, it starts off in his typical style, with liberal use of exclamation points and fear mongering : “America First! The world is a very dangerous place!” and so forth.

As for the content and message of the statement, if one were to try and draw one, Samantha Power put it best  “An abomination that will define the ignorance, corruption, cruelty and recklessness of this presidency for generations to come” Yes, yes I know; Obama appointee, so what possible credibility could she possibly have? Harvard professorship and Pulitzer prize notwithstanding. Power, who by the way, has written a realistic, if scathing account of the United States’ refusal to act in the face of genocide in the twentieth century. No president is excused , Democrat or Republican in her book The Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. The most striking aspect, though, of Trump’s statement is the acknowledgement that “maybe he and maybe he didn’t!” but there’s not a damn thing we’re going to do about it. Note the liberal sprinkling of exclamation points.

For people outside the United States following this, it all feels, as an American of  Russian descent once pointed out to me; “two faced”.  The list of dictators and human rights abusers the United States has backed because it is in her own foreign policy interests (as perceived at the time anyways), is long and depressing. Remember “He may be a sonofabitch but he’s our sonofabitch”? We don’t have to look that far back into the past either. The hypocrisy of Barack Obama, the darling of liberals everywhere including me, lecturing Indians (a well deserved lecture I might add) on the importance of treating women the right way, but uttering not so much as a word against, yes,  no other country but Saudi Arabia. Not one peep out of his mouth, let alone a rebuke. Because, as one knows, the Saudis are models when it comes to women’s rights and equality. On the same visit where he made a stop in Saudi Arabia. Or as he silently watched a democratically elected Morsi being ousted by Sisi without so much as a protest.

All this is to say that the United States backing dictators or human rights abusers when it suits our foreign policy interests is nothing new. And in this case, there’s so much more involved. Much more than petty abuse of rights and that small, rather inconsequential thing about the basic founding principles of these United States and what the country should stand for. There’s a lot more at stake here. Money. Billions of dollars worth of arms the Saudis buy from us. Even so, there is something terribly disturbing about the supposed leader of the free world coming out and saying that we really don’t care what a regime does as long as they are on our side. It is just one way this president erodes the sanctity of the office. Yes, I know Clinton didn’t hesitate to pull down his pants for a blowjob right in the Oval Office but whataboutism is something I have little patience for these days. It is just one more way of normalizing what would be inconceivable under another president. But this is what his supporters want and he promised he would do. Straight talk. Cut through the bullshit. Why even make the pretense of outrage when in reality we won’t really do much, if even anything at all about it.

If you would be so kind as to indulge me while I take this latest outrage and try to tie it to a larger point about impeachment. Every new outrage from this man intensifies the chatter about impeachment, more so since the Democrats took the control of the House. It won’t happen, at least as it looks now. I personally believe that he should’t be impeached. I would like for him to be impeached but I do not believe he should be. Like it or not, he was legitimately elected as president. Agree or not with the electoral college and the system that lets a man losing the popular vote by almost three million votes to be elected president, he was elected president under the law of the land. Our best chance is to grit our teeth and ride this out for another two years and hope this time the Facebook activists posting #NotMyPresident actually show up and vote. And keep stress testing the system of “checks and balances” that the founders supposedly put in place to check abuse of executive power. As the former GOP presidential hopeful and the Governor of Ohio John Kasich said, and I’m paraphrasing: “When you’re on a plane, you want the pilot to do well.” Plus even if against all prevailing odds, we do manage to get this man impeached it plays directly into his hands.

And please, we need to stop with this notion of “we have never been this divided in our history”. Remember that small skirmish in the nineteenth century that almost tore the Union apart? When the total number of dead exceeded the American deaths in all foreign wars combined that America has fought in? Or the late sixties and that great champion of civil liberties, George Wallace, declaring; “Segregtion now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”? The man that ran for president on a segregationist platform and declared “Stand Up for America”? Sound familiar? No? How about “America First”?  I think I can make a case that this isn’t the most divided we have ever been. And all of us liberals need to stop screaming bloody murder every time DJT opens his mouth. All it does is normalize the outrages he perpetrates that cause real and lasting damage to the office and the republic.

Thanks for reading.

Lakshman Hariharan,
11/21/18, Breckenridge, CO

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