Monday, April 2, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

For the second time in as many weeks, he called up a a dictator to congratulate him for winning a sham election.

On March 20, Trump called Vladimir Putin to congratulate him for "winning" an election where genuine opposition candidates were banned, and ballot boxes were stuffed in public view. (The illegitimacy of the election is part of why the notes Trump's staff prepared for the call instructed him, in all capital letters, "DO NOT CONGRATULATE.") We know this because the Russian government broke the news of Trump's friendly gesture, as it often delights in doing

The pattern repeated itself today as Trump called Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi with congratulations for his victory in elections held last week. Al-Sisi, who first came to power in a 2013 military coup, received 97% of the vote after all genuine opposition candidates had been arrested or intimidated into withdrawing.

This isn't the first time that Trump, who frequently expresses admiration for dictators' ability to seize and hold power, has spoken warmly about al-Sisi. Last April, at a White House meeting between the two, Trump said this:
I will tell you, President al-Sisi has been somebody that's been very close to me from the first time I met him. I met during the campaign, and at that point there were two of us, and we both met. And hopefully you like me a lot more. But it was very long. It was supposed to be just a quick brief meeting, and we were with each other for a long period of time. We agreed on so many things. I just want to let everybody know, in case there was any doubt, that we are very much behind President al-Sisi. He's done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation.
Since seizing power, Al-Sisi has ordered the torture, kidnapping, and execution of political opponents and their families, including children.

Why should I care about this?

  • It's bad if a president won't at least pretend that he thinks democracy is worth defending.
  • Some of Trump's evangelical supporters might have thought he wouldn't go out of his way to praise a man who turns a blind eye to the murder and forced conversion of Egypt's Christian minority.
  • The leader of the free world shouldn't be so easily impressed by dictatorships.