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Top of the Ticket Political commentary from David Horsey

Trump’s rationalization for 'killer' Putin is ignorant and anti-American

During a pre-Super Bowl interview on Fox News with Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump said something that, in a sane world, would confirm in every citizen’s mind that he is unfit to be president.

In the one-on-one, O’Reilly follows up Trump’s comment that he “respects” Russian President Vladimir Putin by saying, “But he’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.” And, according to the official Fox News transcript, here is how Trump responded:

“Lot of killers,” Trump says. “We’ve got a lot of killers. Boy, you think our country’s so innocent? You think our country’s so innocent?”

“I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers,” O’Reilly says.

“Well, take a look at what we’ve done, too,” Trump says. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.”

O’Reilly cuts in, “Mistakes are different than —"

Trump interrupts, “A lot of mistakes, OK, but a lot of people were killed. So a lot of killers around, believe me.”

Trump, apparently, makes no distinction between American-inflicted casualties in a controversial war and the murders of political rivals, human rights advocates and journalists at the hands of an autocrat’s henchmen. Is he equating President George W. Bush with Putin? Does he believe American soldiers are on the same moral level as Putin’s team of assassins? Even critics of the Iraq war would be able to discern the difference.

Speaking on MSNBC, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey was unsparing in his condemnation of Trump’s comments.

“One can argue that’s the most anti-American statement ever made by the president of the United States,” McCaffrey said. “To confuse American values with Putin, who’s running a criminal oligarchy, who kills people abroad and at home, who imprisons journalists, and takes away business property, who shares it with his former KGB agents, who invades and seizes Crimea and eastern Ukraine — this is an astonishing state of affairs. It’s hard to know what to think about it.”

Actually, it is not so hard. Besides being a bully who admires bullies, Trump is an ignorant man who lacks the intellectual capacity to comprehend that his loose words, shallow thoughts and brash actions can do serious damage to the country’s image and undercut American influence in the world.

Trump further insulted the intelligence of Americans in a visit to the U.S. Central Command on Monday. Babbling about terrorist attacks in Europe, he accused the American media of a coverup. 

“All over Europe it’s happening,” Trump said. “It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”

No, intelligent military leaders do not understand that. They are generally smart, skilled people, unlike their new commander in chief. They, and the rest of the coherent citizens of the United States, have seen with their own eyes how the news media devotes great energy and resources to covering attacks by terrorists in Europe and elsewhere with absolutely no motivation to do otherwise.

But the slander against journalists is just another of the daily examples of Trump making things up. We are getting used to it. His “lot of killers” comment, though, went beyond his usual inarticulate mendacity. It was, as the general said, “anti-American,” and that is something we dare not see as normal.

David.Horsey@latimes.com

Follow me at @davidhorsey on Twitter

 

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