Friday, 09 October 2020 17:13

OPINION: Donald Trump’s Shield: Double standards and whataboutism

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For those of us who don’t like Trump, we wonder how this president can get away with so much. This is the worst president we have ever had. Some of this stems from the fact that President Trump is given every excuse in the book, and then some, by many and even by himself. But a large portion of it is that Trump dominates the news cycle with deflection by casting blame and corruption onto others to cover himself. Seemingly nothing ever sticks to him. Let’s discuss a few examples.

First, Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son worked for the Ukrainian oil company Burisma in the period that Joe Biden was vice president. During this time, Biden worked to get a Ukrainian prosecutor removed from office. Some U.S. aid was withheld in an attempt to pressure Ukraine to remove this prosecutor. Ukraine, being part of the former Soviet Union, still struggles with corruption. Trump and his people claim that Biden was trying to remove this prosecutor because he didn’t want an investigation into Burisma that could hurt his son, Hunter. Trump claims that Biden and his son are corrupt.

However, this really is not the total picture and isn’t exactly true. Many members of the European Union also wanted this prosecutor out of office. This prosecutor was very corrupt and would not investigate true corruption. The prosecutor was indeed a problem. After all, how can you root out corruption if your prosecutors are corrupt?

How is this a double standard? If you think that it is shady that Biden’s son had a high-paying job at a foreign oil company, then this should be peas as compared to Trump’s corruption. Donald Trump has his own children working in the White House. Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, works as an adviser to the president, an official job at the White House. Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband, serves as a senior adviser to the president. 

So how is this corrupt? His daughter and son-in-law help to advance official United States policy. Both Ivanka and Jared have business dealings with Saudi Arabia and China. Just as one example, the Chinese government granted Ivanka more than 30 trademarks in 2018 alone. Do you really believe that when they sit down with these countries that they are operating without a conflict of interest? 

How is Trump supposed to be hard on China when he has economic interests there? If you think that Biden was corrupt because his son worked for a foreign company in a country that fell under the purview of his dad, then surely you’d think that Trump is corrupt by installing his own family members into governmental jobs in our own White House. 

Let’s move to another topic: Trump’s entities. Some Republicans, and even Trump himself, like to point to the Clintons as being corrupt. They like to say that the Clintons’ charity, the Clinton Foundation, was shut down. The only problem with this is that it’s not true. It was never shut down; it continues to operate. However, it is true that Trump’s charity, the Trump Foundation, was shut down.

In 2018, the Trump Foundation was shut down for illegally misusing $2 million in charitable funds for political purposes in his 2016 campaign, according to the New York Attorney General’s office. President Trump, as a part of this court order, had to agree to this wrongdoing and cannot independently head a charitable organization in New York state ever again. And this is just the beginning.

Shortly after winning the 2016 election, Trump was also required to pay $25 million in damages to students who took courses from Trump University, Politico reported. As a part of this settlement, Trump’s legal team brokered a deal where Trump himself did not have to admit guilt. And just recently, deposition tapes of Trump’s interviews for this case have surfaced (posted to the YouTube channel for Mother Jones) where he is almost certainly lying to investigators. They are worth watching to peel back some of Trump’s curtain of lying, deceit, and self-dealing.

Let’s go to our final double standard. Trump loves to point out that he does not cash his presidential salary. Sounds great, right? As with most things Trump, there is more than meets the eye. 

First, let’s consider the proportions. Trump is worth $2.5 billion dollars and the presidential salary is $400,000 a year. That is 0.02% of his net worth — not even 1%. For someone making $50,000 a year, that would equate to a whole $8. You and I could easily go without $8. Trump can easily go without $400,000. But you might say, $400,000 is a lot of money, and over four years that is $1.2 million. Indeed it is, but let’s look at something else. 

Unlike all other presidents who had business interests, Trump never divested his hotel businesses before becoming president. And as president, the Secret Service must guard him at all times. Well, where do you think Trump goes most often? His golf clubs and resorts, of course — more than one-third of the time he’s been president, the Washington Post reports. You’d think that someone as charitable as Trump might let his agents stay rent-free at his resorts. Not so fast. His hotels have charged these agents $650 a night for hotel rooms, the same as any other guests. And what does Trump do at his resorts? He plays golf, obviously. And his agents need, you guessed it, golf carts. In 2018, the Secret Service spent $367,000 on golf carts alone, according to 

So, let’s get this straight. Trump doesn’t take his check, and yet he uses taxpayer-funded security to buy resort amenities to pay himself. Because his security must protect him, they are a totally captured market. That’s one heck of a deal. And this doesn’t even mention the expenses unrelated to Trump’s properties. Simply flying to his resorts so many times adds up to $3.4 million in tax dollars. 

And to top this all off, let’s look at one last thing. Foreign heads of government often stay in Trump’s hotels. By doing so, they are literally getting into Trump’s pocket. Think about that for a moment. Our president may be financially compromised. Do you think that Trump will do something that might damage a relationship with a high-paying customer — a government leader no less? Are America’s best interests really Trump’s top priority?

So much for not taking a check.

This all culminates in one, giant fact: Trump is a walking, talking double standard and he is the king of whataboutism. Trump’s tactics are always an exercise in deflection and disinformation. He will always point to some other politician or country to cover up his failures and ask, “What about them?” He does so with coronavirus: “China should have never let it happen.” He does so with the economy: “They had the slowest recovery since 1929.” And he does so with violent protests by people on his side: “Almost everything I see is from the left wing.” Nothing is off limits to him. You should ask yourself why Hillary Clinton is still a staple favorite of his even though he won four years ago. It’s simple; Trump doesn’t want you to take a clear look at him for long. He is uncomfortable in the spotlight of corruption and would rather have it aimed at someone else.

(NOTE: This article was drafted before Donald Trump contracted the coronavirus. I wish him and his wife a speedy recovery.)

Alex Auman is a Richmond Country native. He currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He writes about politics, ideas and current events.