TRUMP FOR LIFE – Today’s scandal:
In the closed-door remarks [to donors in Florida], a recording of which was obtained by CNN, Trump also praised China’s President Xi Jinping for recently consolidating power and extending his potential tenure, musing he wouldn’t mind making such a maneuver himself.“He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”The remarks, delivered inside the ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago estate during a lunch and fundraiser, were upbeat, lengthy, and peppered with jokes and laughter.
Trump’s got a form here, saying from time to time nice things about some not very nice people, like Putin, Turkey’s Erdogan, the Philippines’ Duterte, and now Xi. It’s hard to say to what extent Trump genuinely sympathises with autocrats. Top end businessmen often find transition to democratic politics frustrating, seeing how so little of what they say goes in their new role. But even as a no fan of Trump’s I find it difficult to believe that he means most of it – much less that he will really turn the United States into a dictatorship, like the millions in #Resistance seem to think or at least pretend to think. The Xi remark was clearly meant as a jest, and was taken as such by the audience, but it’s nonetheless stupid and distracting.
This is of course somewhat ironic, since many on the progressive side of politics actually do have some admiration for the autocratic China. Prominent commentators like Thomas L Friedman certainly seem to be quite in awe of China’s “can do” spirit, while understanding full well that it is only possible because China’s communist rulers don’t have to concern themselves about any of the factors that so often slow down democratic politicians, including their own people, their neighbours, and their budgets. Technocrats love autocracy, if autocracy is run by “enlightened” despots, enlightened meaning following the policies that technocrats happen believe in, whether it’s a $500 billion investment in new transport infrastructure or “green energy”.
In that context, Trump comes across as an anti-Xi. Which, to the chattering classes, makes him much worse than a mere communist dictator.