I guess I don’t really care…
…about all the bullshit patriotic complaints about Donald Trump’s wimpy show in Helsinki yesterday. If the United States were a sports team (something else I don’t care about, by the way), it would have been a defeat, and a humiliating one. He truly showed himself to be a coward, and to the extent that he is seen as representing the U.S., it was embarrassing. Putin clearly was the boss of Trump.
But we as Americans can’t act as if we are shocked, shocked! to learn that nations meddle in each others business, or that by “standing up to Putin” our idiot president would have been supporting The American Way of Life, or furthering the values of justice and truth. All he would have been doing is NOT embarrassing us all, and NOT acting like the chickenshit little weasel that he appears to be.
American presidents are always judged by how tough or how lax they appear to be on the world stage, and most of them play the game they are expected to play, because they want to get reelected, or they want their party to gain seats in Congress. The power they are struggling to maintain is breathtaking, they know the voters (and the Other Party) are watching, and they will take part in pretty much any political theater that allows them to keep their power.
Donald Trump is different. I know a lot of voters chose him for exactly that reason: he’s different. And in a way I can’t blame them, after seeing so many politicians turn out to be like all other politicians, after they’re elected. Unfortunately, Trump is different in a bad way: He really doesn’t give a fuck about anything or anyone but himself. He is ignorant, selfish and purely transactional. All Donald Trump wants to know is “What’s in it for me?”
Based on Trump’s career of self-dealing and his subservient demeanor in Helsinki, it looks like he hopes somehow to gain something from Putin and Russia. Maybe it’s money, or some kind of lenience they might offer in his payment schedule (he’s been using Russian money since U.S. banks stopped lending to him). After all, it’s likely that Vladimir Putin is secretly the wealthiest person in the world, with personal assets that could reach a hundred billion dollars, while Trump is the self-proclaimed “king of debt.” All that money must be catnip to him, and maybe he hopes to siphon off some it.
Or maybe the rumors are true and Putin really does have kompromat on Trump, some video of him accepting bribes, laundering money or getting kinky with prostitutes in Moscow hotel rooms. Apparently, gathering this type of dirt on foreign big shots is common practice in Russia, and Trump has spent time there when he was a private citizen. Trump has always felt entitled and special, so who knows what he might have gotten up to when he thought nobody was looking?
But whatever motivates him to embrace a ruthless dictator like Putin while attacking our traditional U.S. allies, not to mention our own intelligence and law enforcement agencies, I just don’t care.
What I care about is this: The United States, as a huge, powerful democracy, has a chance to be a force for good, within our borders and in the world at large. We could enforce international agreements not to invade other countries or torture prisoners. We could offer food and protection to those displaced by famine and violence. We could encourage nations to listen to their people through legitimate elections. We could shelter refugees running from unimaginable horrors in the homelands. We could advance scientific research that might one day save the planet from our own greed and thoughtlessness, and find ways to produce enough food to feed everyone. In our two and a half centuries we have mostly done the right thing and, I’d like to believe, we’ve learned from our mistakes. Now there is no other force on the planet with such potential.
This is the promise of The United States: That we can not only put a Chevy and a Ford in every one of our own garages, but that we can make the world a better place. This is why I’d like the American president, whoever she or he is, to have a sense of right and wrong, to work for the country more than for him or her self, to stand with our democratic allies and stand against dictators.
And this is why Donald Trump is more than a dumbass. He’s a venal, self-centered, self-satisfied, incompetent who would trade the future of us all for a few dollars more.