Donald Trump And Boris Johnson: A Tale Of Two Woes
By Brian Browne
Donald Trump and Boris Johnson sounds like a law firm yet there is nothing firm about this tandem. Neither Donald Trump nor his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, are as capable as they conceive themselves to be. Before one can lead a great nation, one must understand himself. In this essential aspect, this uniquely-coiffured duo has failed miserably.
Now both have meetings with portentous matters that may be beyond them. Their ambitions are larger than their abilities. They are in danger of being consumed in the jowls of their own avarice and by their own dreams of personal grandeur. If they did not occupy public office, their travails would be limited to the stuff of personal tragedy such as the bankruptcy of a private company, a phenomena with which Donald Trump is intimately familiar. However, they do inhabit public office. Their antics now threaten to bankrupt the already flexible public morals of their respective nations.
If dealt two aces at the beginning of a game of poker, one would be excused for imagining a winning hand was in the offing. If dealt two jokers, one would bristle that the deck was unfairly stacked against him. Two jokers stand in places better reserved for aces. The United States and United Kingdom now despair over how badly they miscast the current occupants of their loftiest governmental posts. The rest of the world stands half aghast, half bemused by the faulty turn of events. The lecturer has turned to lunatic; the tutor is the truant. Those who prided themselves as the epitome of mature democratic self-government are led by unruly, unkempt toddlers who deceive themselves that they have set the world on fire with the nonexistent achievements of which they unwholesomely boast. Yet, the scent they detect is but the smell of the match lit to their own clothes.
Perhaps not a joker, but history is certainly a jester with a wry orientation to its humor. For roughly three centuries, the Anglo-American duo has held sway over world affairs. The rest of the world stopped and listened when first London, then later Washington, spoke. The international economic and political condominiums are extensions of Anglo-American thought and exertions of power. Now, these nations have selected leaders of which they should properly be ashamed. Yet, these also are leaders who reveal more of the belligerent values and cantankerous natures of these nations than they would care to admit.
For many years, these two nations held themselves aloft as exemplars of modern liberal governance. Today, much of the world laughs because the self-adulation of the two nations seems more like a curse that has come to pass with the advent of Trump and Johnson. The ascent of the two men is nothing if not a lesson in the promotion of modesty. The so-called greatness of any nation is usually more the function of historic incident and accident than it is evidence of the permanent superiority of a people. A particular invention, the location of a strategic natural resource, the shape of the coastline, the soil’s ability to grow crops and the utter happenstance of having the right leadership at the opportune moment have been the keys to the rise and fall of nations. Take away certain factors that are outside of ability of any society to control for any length of time, then one nation falls from earthly greatness while another seems to be the recipient of all heavenly graces.
Such was the case with the UK and such will be the case with the U.S. Formerly it was declared the sun never set on the British Empire. Destiny would hurl its wrath at such hubris. The Empire became so burdensome that war-weary England relinquished the great prize, from the British Raj of India to ending its colonial hold on much of the African continent. Now, the UK has been so reduced that it binds itself in a knot merely trying to extricate itself from a voluntary economic arrangement with it closest European allies.
The founders of the once grand empire quake in their graves in wonderment how their successors could have let their once mighty enterprise descend into such a feeble condition. Once upon a time, the might British Lion would roar and the world would seek shelter. The mongrel that replaced it has a lazy bark and weak teeth.
America today thumps its chest, calling itself the indispensable nation and the leader of the free world. Once more, an arrogant nation dares fate. How can a nation justified by the genocide of the Native American and enriched by the sweat and toil of the African slave dare claim to hold the torch of freedom unless its possession of the torch is to set fire to freedom instead of showing people the way to freedom? Such would be the question posed by those nations which sought to establish courses independent of the dictates of Washington from Iran in the 1950s to Libya, Cuba, Syria, Venezuela and Iran of today.
One has to be credulous to believe any nation is the beacon of freedom to any other nation. Such an idea is too dissonant to be deemed a myth or even propaganda. It is an exercise in cynicism for it means the exact opposite of what it appears to symbolize. It means America will impose its superior power against another nation if the lesser attempts its own way because that way can never be better than the American way. Freedom comes only by following Washington. Thus, to bring freedom, Washington is obliged to suppress another nation’s independent strivings. This is much like the house burglar describing himself as performing a needed public service as the reluctant locator of valuable goods in want of a better home that only he can provide.
Great nations ultimately fall under the cumbersome weight of their arrogant disregard of the visible evidence of their own decay. The fall of a nation is always predicated on the advent of mediocre, venal leadership that believes the world must bend to their every thought no matter how outlandish. Such leaders delude themselves that they contend not with reality. For them, there is no greater reality than their own egos. Trump and Johnson are of this ilk. Twilight cometh to London and Washington should these nations continue to present leaders such as these flawed specimen.
Trump is at war with everything because he is not at peace with himself. He is a merchant of an egoism that is actually a façade. His great fear is that he will be found out and found wanting. Thus he lashes at everything like a mad dog tethered to a pole. He now faces his greatest challenge. His Democratic political opponents seek to impeach him by his own words. An angry intelligence officer disclosed that Trump had requested in a telephone call that Ukrainian President Zelensky investigate the conduct of Democratic Party frontrunner Joe Biden and his son in the Ukraine during the period when Biden was Vice President in the Obama administration.
In an immediate, explosive display of false outrage, the Democrats controlling the House of Representatives launched an impeachment inquiry regarding the controversial phone call. Around the same time, American drones committed an egregious crime by bombing a group of Afghani pine nut farmers innocently sitting about after a long day’s labor. 30 were killed and more injured for no reason. Not one word of outrage emerged from the Democratic pack. No one questioned the mindless longevity and futility of American occupation of Afghanistan. It was as if the murderous deed was a non-deed.
The wrongful deaths mattered not to the Democrats though they spewed terms such as “justice, rule of law, democracy and order” in decrying Trump’s intervention with his Ukrainian counterpart. Nor did they criticize his sending troops to the Saudi peninsula to potentially get in harm’s way to support a kingdom at war suppressing a weaker yet surprisingly resilient neighbor in Yemen.
The evil killings and the deployment of troops as virtual mercenaries to the unregenerate Saudi government bothered the Democrats not at all. For the killing of unarmed foreigners and besieging of lesser nations to secure economic resources are fulcrums of modern American statecraft. America has transformed from an isolationist nation to a commandeering one. Trump is an overstuffed buffoon so he is easy to hate and ridicule. Yet do not make the mistake that his domestic political opponents mean for any nation anything better than he does. The Democrats may be more polished and subtle in their public utterances than Trump. When it comes to war and empire, the Democrats are as bloodthirsty and amoral as is he. Murder is murder whether done by a poleaxe or stiletto.
This brings us to their big problem with Trump. It is not so much his policies for he has no original thoughts. His policies are largely theirs. Trump’s problem is his tongue. It wags indiscriminately. He utters things in public the political class says but only in their innermost caucuses. They are angry at him for publicly revealing the scum at the heart of their craft. Trump’s cardinal sin is his knack for exposing the triviality and baseness of the political class. He is erasing the façade of talent and noble character to reveal a community reminiscent of pigs wrestling in a poke.
Thus, the Democrats hope to rid themselves of him even before the 2020 election. They tried and failed with their outlandish conspiracy theory that Trump was some covert Russian agent Moscow helped into the White House. For over two years they pounded that theme. When the investigation was concluded, the bombshell they expected was nothing more than a damp squib. Now they clutch at the latest Trump misstep as their revalidation.
They seek to paint Trump’s request for Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden as an illegal attempt to get foreign assistance in an election campaign. Sounds good. They may have Trump cornered. However, this thing is more complicated. First, one cannot conclude this will help Trump’s campaign as Biden has yet to win the Democratic nomination. The Democrats will then say Trump is trying to discredit Biden and, by that, cause him to lose the party nomination. However, such a demise can only occur if Biden and son are found guilty of wrongdoing in Ukraine. If Kiev’s investigation cleared Biden, Trump would not benefit. He would have mud on his face; Biden would emerge clean if not also refreshed. Such an outcome would profit Biden and hurt Trump.
Despite their feigned outrage at Trump’s actions, there is a major flaw in their reasoning. For Trump to gain electoral advantage requires that Biden be found guilty of wrongdoing. If Biden is guilty of wrong, Trump cannot be guilty of abusing his power by asking Ukraine to investigate the man. In effect, the Democrats come close to arguing that a potential presidential nominee in the opposing party has a strange type of immunity that insulates him from being investigated by the federal government when the presidency is in the hands of another party. While this appeals to the Democrats in this instance, such an assertion cannot be sound law.
If Biden actually does have dirt on his hands, Trump may have standing to claim the Democrats in the House are guilty of obstruction of justice by initiating the impeachment process against him to thwart the justified investigation of a guilty man.
The Democrats have the numbers in the House to impeach Trump. However their efforts to remove Trump will likely stall in the Senate which is controlled by Trump’s party. Trump well knows this. Thus, the impeachment will greatly embarrass him. He will be only the fourth president to suffer the indignity and no vain person wants part of such an ignoble club. Yet, it will not prove fatal.
On the other hand, Trump remains the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. The Department of Justice is under his remit. Having talked himself into scandal, he may now try to work this more subtly. He will go tit-for–tat with the Democrats. Should they move from inquiry to formally impeach him, Trump may get his Justice Department to formally open criminal investigations of Biden and son. The Justice Department will then formally ask Ukraine and perhaps other nations to provide information pertinent to the investigations. This parallelism will be akin to legal and political mutually assured destruction.
Thus seen, this is a game of high-stakes poker being played by a Republican Joker against a set of Democratic ones. At bottom, the trouble is not just the existence of Trump. It is also that his Democratic opposition in their opaqueness of vision and lack of genuine humanity are much like him. Because of this, they do not realize they are entrapped with him in playing a game that profits nothing but the decline of the nation they profess to love and protect. To destroy that which one claims to love is to either be among the most foolish or mendacious of men. Such is the way of America’s leadership. Darkness falls.