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What the naked emperor wears today

Damien Howard / Khmer Times Share:
Cartoon commissioned by Damien Howard

Consider the logic behind Republicans, as well as President Donald Trump’s own dealing with critics. It reveals a self-interested corrupting of American political discourse.

The Nunes memo said that since Christopher Steele was partially funded by the Democrats what he found can’t be believed. Robert Mueller once had a dispute over golf dues at a Trump golf club, so he must be biased. A judge who had an Mexican heritage must also be biased because of Mr Trump’s comments about Mexicans.

The implicit logic is if you may think, or are even associated with someone who thinks Mr Trump could do wrong, then you cannot be believed if you criticise him. It’s a neat catch 22. If you seek to investigate him you must be biased. The president’s long and tawdry public past becomes a political asset to be used against any potential critics, who can be claimed to have been influenced by it. It neatly weaponises this past to create a protective shield against future critics.

Only those who have deluded themselves that the naked emperor is wearing clothes are allowed to comment what he is wearing today. Of course the true believers of Mr Trump would not harbour thoughts he could do wrong. They would not be inclined to look for any wrongdoing. Nor would they be willing to accept that it could exist, even if was in right in front of their eyes.

They have signed onto a roller coaster ride of always changeable ‘facts’ and individual credibility. Then FBI Director James Comey was a good guy for investigating Hillary Clinton, but then bad not to suppress an investigation of Mr Trump’s campaign links with Russia. Steve Bannon was a good guy who helped to win (but only a little ) the presidency. But then he became insane after criticising Mr Trump’s son.

The release of the Nunes memo takes the US further down a slippery slope towards a low point for US democracy – where what is good for the president determines what is good for America. Mr Trump even said it – criticising him is bad for the image of America. The suppression of the Democratic memo that was a response to the Nunes memo highlights Mr Trump wants only highly selective, partisan voices to be heard. Rather than his critics diminishing the image of America in the eyes of the world, in fact they elevate it. If all manner of partisan, racist, misogynist and simply crass responses are not called for what they are, then that would indeed be viewed in the eyes of the world as travelling a road toward moral and political corruption.

Damien Howard is a consulting psychologist in Darwin, Australia.

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