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The Art of the Kneel

Don Rose 24 July 2018 No Comment

In the course of his presidency Barack Obama either bowed or made partial bowing motions when meeting the Japanese emperor, the king of Saudi Arabia and several other heads of state including China–catching accusations of “treason” and similar compliments from Fox News and other far-right commentators for selling out our nation’s sovereignty with this simple gesture, customary in the lands he visited .

   Last week Donald Trump, with no overt physical gestures, virtually knelt before Vladimir Putin by saying he believed the Russian dictator’s “strong and powerful” denial of tampering with the 2016 election against the evidence of his own director of national intelligence. He also undertook consideration of Putin’s request to send former US diplomats to Russia for “questioning.”

   Of course Trump loves things “strong” and “powerful,” terms he uses regularly to show his admiration for dictators and authoritarians usually considered our foes. Those are his role models.

    Some on the left called the whole toadying performance “treason,” with a smidgen more justification.

    Facing a huge backlash at home–including a 98-0 senate vote against sending anyone to Russia–the following day Trump awkwardly backed off  shipping diplomats there, then claimed he” mis-spoke” when he said he believed Putin, but still ad-libbed  that “other” countries might also have meddled as well.


   Trump never offered a reason for the ad-libbed statement, nor for his many past rejections of US intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Russia had indeed interfered in the election–and, to my recollection, few reporters  pursued the issue with him.

   Wouldn’t it be interesting to ask him “On what basis do you reject the findings of US intelligence agencies, Mr. President?”

   “Why do you suggest it may be China or some other countries that hacked us?”

    “Are you suggesting our intelligence agencies are not very good?”

    “Is this just a hunch?”

     He once had a hunch his Trump Tower phone was being tapped by Obama and that he had been put  under surveillance. Went so far as to have a congressional investigation of the hunch–which proved incorrect, to the surprise of no one.

    “Do you have alternative intelligence from someone or somewhere?”

    “Do you perhaps have your own private investigators looking into election meddling, the way you claimed to have sent them to Hawaii to prove that Obama was not really born there?”

    Oh, sorry–we never did hear the results of that investigation, although Trump said the investigators “could not believe what they are finding.” These days when asked about his birther accusations and the findings of those mysterious investigators he says simply “I don’t talk about that anymore.”

    Why not ask some of those questions at Trump’s next press conference?

    Another thing he is reluctant to talk about–even to his own intelligence people–is exactly what happened during those two hours he spent alone with Putin and their translators. An invitation to visit the White House was one of the few things made public–and greeted with wonderment by his own staff.

   What else?  Perhaps he actually took a knee before his strong and powerful tovarisch.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

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