I feel like Michael Corleone in Godfather III: Every time I try to distance myself from Donald Trump and write about something or someone else, he does another unimaginable act that pulls me back in. (Dedicated readers might remember I used that analogy once before: http://nosocksneededanymore.blogspot.com/2013/06/godfather-iii-and-supreme-court.html)
So, the soon-to-be 45th president has startled the foreign relations community by talking directly with the president of Taiwan, what international experts are saying will be interpreted by China as an affront.
I don’t know enough about Sino-American relations to comment beyond what I read. But I do recognize that unilateral surprise actions by our president-elect have the potential to unhinge diplomatic ties around the world. Remember how his casual comments during the campaign questioning support for NATO members caused tumult throughout the alliance?
It has been reported that Trump has disdained receiving global security updates and has preferred having his daughter Ivanka sit in on meeting with foreign delegates rather than State Department experts. This is no way to run a country, at least not a nuclear power considered the bulwark of western civilization.
During the campaign wacky pronouncements from The Donald were commonplace, dismissed by his handlers as electioneering bravura. But now, even before he has nominated a secretary of state, Trump is upending decades of bipartisan United States foreign policy relations.
He was blindsided into talking with the president of Taiwan. He answered her congratulatory telephone call. Looks like his ego, the chance to have it stroked, got the better of him.
He compounded the diplomatic faux pas by tweeting—what else is new—about it. In his tweet Trump called Tsai Ing-wen the president of Taiwan, a title American presidents have resisted using for decades because of our tangled relationship balancing China and Taiwan as the true representative of more than 1.4 billion people.
Of course, this controversy is not the first set off by the next president. He has ruffled feathers in regard to India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Russia and Japan (http://nyti.ms/2gwOZX3).
Well, he will be president and have the power and authority to set foreign policy, but I would feel a lot more comfortable if Trump discussed his moves with qualified experts before thrusting them on the public. Could he at least have the decency to maintain the status quo until after January 20 so President Obama doesn’t have to clean up any messes his successor creates?
Christian Charity: Now that evangelicals can claim they helped elect Trump, I am wondering how much pressure they will exert to further Christian charity toward the needy?
Presumably, they will get their election reward in the form of an anti-abortion Supreme Court nominee. But once Roe v. Wade is overturned, or, at the very least, restrictive state measures are condoned and upheld, making more unwanted babies a reality, will evangelicals be willing to lobby for more social services for them and their mothers?
Evangelicals have been welcoming to refugees fleeing Mideast conflicts. But will they be able to soften Trump’s anti-immigration, anti-Muslim stances?
Trying to discern the thinking and values of the religious right is an exercise somewhat beyond my ken. Consider the case of Liberty University, a Christian university in Lynchburg, Va., and its quest to become a college football powerhouse.
It displayed a greater belief in football excellence than Christian values in selecting a new athletic director tainted by a failure to appropriately respond to charges of multiple gang rapes and sexual assault by members of the football squad at Baylor University, his last employer (http://nyti.ms/2gYinCd).
It is easier to figure out Republican values in saying that after they repeal the Affordable Care Act a new health care plan to replace Obamacare would not be ready for three years. They clearly want to avoid having to answer for lost coverage by millions of Americans until after the mid-term elections of 2018.
The GOP is simply abiding by the first and most important tenet of any politician—get re-elected.