You people that come here for disability talk can feel free to skip this post, if you like, because politics has got me feeling a little ranty today. Since y’all have always been so accommodating of that in the past…here goes…
Image Description: American flag flying against blue sky
Content Note: Al Franken, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, Kim Jung Un, Monica Lewinsky, #MeToo, North Korea, Politics, Sexual Harassment
I didn’t watch any news last Saturday. I knew that it was a big day for politics – the G7 summit was on in Quebec, and that Trump would be leaving early for his summit with Kim Jung Un in Singapore. There would doubtless be news, but I was enjoying the silence in my apartment and just didn’t want to turn the TV on.
On Sunday, I turned on “State of the Union” on CNN just in time to hear Larry Kudlow’s statements about how Justin Trudeau stabbed the US in the back.
Now, I like Justin Trudeau. I think that, considering that compared to Canada’s past Prime Ministers, he’s quite young, relatively politically inexperienced, and not quite sure how to get out of his own way sometimes (plus he’s Pierre Trudeau’s son, of course, which could help or hinder him on any given day depending on a variety of factors), he’s done very well in his first term.
But I admit that on hearing Kudlow’s words, my first thought was, “Oh, no…what Trudeau say?” I had no doubt that whatever it was, he’d had nothing but good intentions, but that it had come across terribly.
But I was wrong, as I sometimes am about politics. See clips of the speech that Trump and his adviser found so offensive, with lots of context, in the video below:
I’m a very polite, patient person. It takes a lot to get me angry. But when I’m there, I’m there. And even though I sometimes look at my Prime Minister and think, “Oh, bless you for being earnest, but you’re gonna get eaten alive,” I won’t have Trump trying to railroad him when he’s doing nothing but emphasizing that he *will* stand up for interests of Canadians in the face of our neighbour and ally trying to start a trade war with us, especially when that ally’s response is to send his adviser out to say on a leading Sunday news show to say that “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door” in an interview about Trudeau.
That’s not what happened. And If Trump wants to play that way when Trudeau politely asserts himself, especially given how Trump conducts himself when he’s pushing back on people, America *will* hear from that Canadian in me (and not just me) that won’t be pushed around. Fair warning.
So Bill Clinton’s written a book with novelist James Patterson, and the two of them have been hitting the talk shows promoting it. The book tour hasn’t run totally smoothly, Clinton has had some….missteps, let’s call them, as he’s been promoting the book, answering questions about the #MeToo movement.
I was going to leave this alone. But then I heard I heard that Clinton said this that this during his appearance on PBC Newshour, in response to a question about Al Franken leaving the Senate after allegations of groping several women:
“I think the norms have really changed in terms of…what you can do to somebody against their will, how much you can crowd their space, make them miserable at work. You don’t have to physically assault somebody to make them, uh, you know, uncomfortable at work, or at home, or in their other – just walking around. That I think is good”
I didn’t hear past “…against their will…” the first time I saw the clip, because I was yelling at the TV, “No! Wrong answer!”
CNN’s Chris Cillizza felt my pain, I discovered, when I watched him discuss the clip with Kate Baldwin:
(starting at 0:47) Kate: So Chris, how’s that book tour going?
Chris: Yeah. I tweeted this yesterday, but I keep thinking every time I see that clip, Kate, you know, which is, maybe the former President should just sit a few plays out. Because it’s clear that the #MeToo movement, the changes in the culture that he seems to be trying to acknowledge, are either lost on him, or he doesn’t get it, or he doesn’t know how to verbalize it. We saw this in him talking about Monica Lewinsky earlier in this book tour, and now this, again. The norms of what you can force someone to do haven’t changed! You can’t force someone to do anything! That wasn’t the case twenty-five years ago; it is the case today. I guess he might be referring to conduct that sort of falls into a gray area, that’s not forcing people on what to do, but again, Kate, it feels like, watching him, that he just doesn’t get it.
Now, I’m pretty sure that Clinton was only trying to say that the culture around sexual behaviour and consent has changed, and not actually saying that it’s okay to force people to do anything they don’t want to. However, he was President for eight years and he’s a seasoned public speaker. He should know that clear, precise wording matters, and there’s no reason for him not to be prepared for answers for questions about #MeToo, especially given his history and the fact that he flubbed an answer on a question about #MeToo earlier in the book tour. To struggle again to put an answer together, and again have it come out half-assed, suggests to me that one of the things that Cillizza suggests is indeed going on…and that Clinton is either so overconfident in his ability to handle questions on the topic that he’s not working with anyone to address why he’s coming off so badly, or he just doesn’t care enough about how these missteps make him look to do so. Either way, it’s not going to help him sell books – and it’s quickly making him a liability to Democrats.
Speaking of liabilities to political parties…Back to Trump for a moment.
Trump’s Big Summit
I just wanted to congratulate America on Trump’s recent summit with North Korea’s leader in Singapore. Considering that, by his own admission, he went to Singapore prepared by nothing but life experience and instinct, I don’t think that you could really expect him to deliver any more than he did:
- A vague agreement with some fairly significant concessions to North Korea, without requiring them to do much in return.
- Seemingly endless flattery of Kim Jung Un, including assertions to the press that the young dictator’s people love him (despite North Korea’s significant and ongoing record of human rights abuses under Kim Jung Un.)
- An invitation for Kim Jung Un to the White House.
The discussion with the press about how great North Korea’s beaches are and how great it would be to put condos or hotels along them, and the video that Trump had the National Security Council create for Kim Jong Un were especially bizarre. (By the way, there is a real production company called Destiny Pictures, and they had nothing to do with that video. Just FYI.)
Congratulations to Donald Trump on a job…done.
Politics on the Brain – Bottom Line
America, if you’re sensing that I’m at a “I can’t even…” place when it comes to American politics…I am. Today. But I’ll rally, as I’m sure that you rally after the days when it’s hard for you to watch the news. I’d like you to know that I’ve been surprised and touched by the support I’ve seen on social for Justin Trudeau from Americans in the wake of Trump suddenly deciding that he’s persona non grata, and I want you to know that *I* know that Trump’s nonsense by no means reflects the politics of all of you.
Thanks for letting me ramble…
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