Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday Week in Review, Family Edition

What else did Donald Trump do this week?

He had some family issues arise, intentionally or otherwise.

Donald Jr. Trump's eldest son Donald Jr. isin theorymanaging his father's businesses along with his brother Eric, though Trump Sr. is still directly financially tied to the income of the Trump Organization. Also in theory, Donald Jr. plays no official role in the Trump administration, and occasionally even claims not to be involved unofficially.

This week, Donald Jr. traveled to India, ostensibly to promote his father's company's real estate projects. But he also gave a speech on foreign policy alongside the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi. The younger Trump also took a page from his father's book and sold access to himselfand by implication the presidencywith newspaper ads declaring, "TRUMP IS HERE — ARE YOU INVITED?"

Donald Trump Jr. has no foreign policy or diplomatic experience, but tickets for "dinner and conversation" with him cost $38,000.

Ivanka. Trump dispatched his eldest daughter Ivanka to South Korea this week in order to represent the United States at the Olympics. This is a fairly traditional sort of duty for a presidential family member, and not a problem in and of itself, although Trump insisted on raising the stakes, tweeting that there was no one "better or smarter" than Ivanka for the job.

But Ivanka Trumpwho does officially work for her father but has not qualified for a permanent security clearance after more than a year on the jobdid more than cheer for American athletes. Instead, she was apparently there as what amounts to a high-level diplomatic mission. Her father has let her stand in for him at international events before, but given the perilous situation on the Korean peninsula at the moment, Ivanka Trump found herself doing policy work that would normally be handled by the U.S. Ambassador or the Secretary of State.

The position of Ambassador to South Korea has been vacant for all of Trump's term. The only candidate willing to consider the job, Victor Cha, ultimately withdrew in protest over Trump's approach to the region.

Viktor and Amalija Knavs. Trump's parents-in-law made the news this week too, as the Washington Post reported that they had become permanent residents and are expected to become citizens soon.

Unless the Knavses, who are in their seventies, were sponsored by an employerwhich seems unlikelythen they almost certainly got their green cards via their daughter Melania's sponsorship. Although she almost certainly worked illegally for a time before getting a proper work visa (which would make her a priority for deportation under her husband's policies) Melania Trump obtained her own citizenship in 2006. This means that the Knavses would fall under Trump's definition of "chain migration," just as Trump's own mother and paternal grandfather would have.

Whether or not he understands the irony, Trump rails against "chain migration" at every opportunity, and has threatened to veto any bill to provide for DACA recipients unless he gets his way.

Eric (and Donald Jr. and Melania). On Thursday, Trump's middle son, Eric, gave a speech at CPAC on the unlikely topic of mannersspecifically, how Americans have lost theirs. Most of his evidence dealt with occasions where people were rude to members of the Trump family, orin the case of his father's State of the Union addressdidn't applaud loudly enough. He said that this rudeness showed that Americans were "losing family values."

Two days before Eric's speech, Donald Jr. promoted tweets attacking a survivor of the Parkland mass murder as a puppet of his "deep state" father, who is a former FBI agent. This conspiracy theory has resulted in death threats against 17-year-old David Hogg and other members of his family. His younger sister Lauren Hogg then appealed to Melania Trump, who has taken on fighting cyber-bullying as one of her tasks as First Lady, to intercede with her stepson.

There has been no response from Donald Jr. or Melania Trump on the matter.

Why do these things matter?

  • A president who tolerates his family members selling access to the presidency doesn't deserve to hold the office.
  • High-level diplomacy in a region threatened by nuclear war is too important a job to give to someone totally unqualified.
  • A president who approves of "chain migration" when it benefits his family but not when it helps anyone else doesn't really care about immigration.
  • Attacking the survivors of a mass murder for political gain is disgusting no matter whose family you're a member of.
  • Leaving the United States without an ambassador to South Korea, under these circumstances, is incredibly stupid.