Dispatches from Deena Stryker
“Presidents cannot accept gifts or business from foreigners. It’s against the ‘emoluments clause’.” So said a knowledgeable MSNBC contributor Tuesday night, after President Trump warmly congratulated Turkey President Erdogan for winning a referendum that will give him almost unlimited power for the next seven years. He is being raked over the coals, not so much for applauding an authoritarian, but one in whose country he has business interests. (The President even admitted he had a conflict of interest in Turkey in the shape of twin towers.) But what’s all the hullaballoo? What about the Saudis and other unsavory rulers whom we may not ‘congratulate’ but whom we support to the tune of billions of dollars and lethal aid against their enemies — who are not necessarily our enemies.
Let this not be read as a defense of Donald Trump: it is simply an enieme condemnation of the mainstream press for thinking it’s doing its job by citing an obscure law.
A hundred days into the Trump Presidency, Americans should be clear about one thing: far from being an outlier and an exception, Donald Trump has simply taken what has passed for governance to a whole new level, doing what our rulers have always done under the table or cloaked in solemn robes, openly, affirmatively, gleefully, even, telling us it’s good for us, even if it doesn’t make America great again. It’s the new normal, and we’ll have to get used to it: the Trump family aligns foreign policy with its business, while the generals make war on anyone who disagrees. After all, wasn’t it Charlie “Engine” Wilson who said ‘What’s good for GM is good for America?”
P.S. to Hullaballoo!
As I wrote yesterday, under the ‘what’s good for GM is good for the US rule’ it is now perfectly okay for our Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, to lobby for relief from Russia sanctions so his ‘former’ company, Exxon Mobil, is allowed to participate in a lucrative deal to drill for Russia’s Arctic Oil.