Since taking office on January 20, 2017, Donald Trump has been handed several opportunities to do the right thing.
These opportunities were so obvious. All they required was someone with enough common sense and compassion to seize upon them.
Sadly, Trump balked on them all.
For example, there was the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., the deadly scene that took the life of paralegal and civil rights activist Heather Heyer and two other counter-protesters.
Instead of doing what was obvious to most rational, decent human beings–decrying white supremacy in all forms and condemning neo-Nazi activity–Trump famously said “both sides” were to blame.
Last month, former President Obama weighed in about it during a speech in Illinois when he said:
“We’re sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be, to say that Nazis are bad?”
Then there was Trump’s response last year following Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico.
Instead of promising Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló all the assistance the federal government is capable of providing, Trump threw rolls of paper towels to hurricane victims lining up to receive water and other basic survival staples, and congratulated Gov. Rosselló for the “low” death count.
“The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the governor in Puerto Rico, I think was tremendous.”
He would think it was “tremendous” since he apparently believes the nearly 3,000 Puerto Rican Americans who died were a lie Democrats cooked up to politically wound him.
Who can forget Trump’s summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July?
When presented the ideal opportunity to look Putin in the eye and publicly shame him for meddling in the 2016 American presidential election, Trump failed to uphold his oath to “protect and defend the Constitution” by siding with Moscow.
We could go on. There is certainly no shortage of examples where our illustrious leader couldn’t get out of his own way.
But Trump was offered another chance to defend the rule of law and morality after Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally tortured and murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2.
Predictably, he punted, saying “hopefully that will sort itself out.”
Just as he sided with white supremacists at Charlottesville and Vladimir Puting in Helsinki, Trump suggested Khashoggi’s killers were not members of a Saudi government-backed hit squad, as intelligence suggests, but “rogue killers.”
Trump then proceeded to justify his implicit defense of Saudi Arabia by stating Khashoggi, a legal U.S. resident, was “not a United States citizen.”
He also cited a $110 billion weapons agreement with Saudi Arabia as a reasonable justification for why the United States should distance itself from speaking out against the journalist’s murder.
As Max Boot wrote in the Washington Post, Donald Trump’s actions have “given every despot on the planet a license to kill.”
And, this time at least, it stems from Trump’s disdain for the media and–of course–his financial ties to Saudi Arabia.
Speaking to reporters in Arizona on Friday, Trump said he is ready to “listen to what Congress has to say” about actions regarding Khashoggi case. However, he also makes clear he wants to continue defense contracts and protecting American jobs on which they depend.
Congress has already set in motion a mechanism for the U.S. Treasury Department to consider human rights sanctions against Saudi Arabia. Some lawmakers have vowed to block further arms sales to it.
Trump, though, is likely to oppose these measures.
Did we get tough with Saudi Arabia after the September 11, 2001 attacks?
No, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.
Trump has just proved once again how precarious that toxic relationship is.
He also couldn’t have been given a better opportunity to revise it.
Once again, he blew it.
Image credit: The Independent