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Castigating Trump for Truth-Telling

By       Message Robert Parry       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   6 comments

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Gaining acceptance in Official Washington is a lot like getting admittance into a secret society's inner sanctum by uttering some nonsensical password. In Washington to show you belong, you must express views that are patently untrue or blatantly hypocritical.

For instance, you might be called upon to say that "Iran is the principal source of terrorism" when that title clearly belongs to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf state allies that have funded Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the Islamic State. But truth has no particularly value in Official Washington; adherence to "group think" is what's important.

Similarly, you might have to deny any "moral equivalence" between killings attributed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and killings authorized by U.S. presidents. In this context, the fact that the urbane Barack Obama scheduled time one day a week to check off people for targeted assassinations isn't relevant. Nor is the reality that Donald Trump has joined this elite club of official killers by approving a botched and bloody raid in Yemen that slaughtered a number of women and children (and left one U.S. soldier dead, too).

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You have to understand that "our killings" are always good or at least justifiable (innocent mistakes do happen from time to time), but Russian killings are always bad. Indeed, Official Washington has so demonized Putin that any untoward death in Russia can be blamed on him whether there is any evidence or not. To suggest that evidence is needed shows that you must be a "Moscow stooge."

To violate these inviolable norms of Official Washington, in which participants must intuitively grasp the value of such "group think" and the truism of "American exceptionalism," marks you as a dangerous outsider who must be marginalized or broken.

Currently, President Trump is experiencing this official opprobrium as he is widely denounced by Republicans, Democrats and "news" people because he didn't react properly to a question from Fox News' Bill O'Reilly terming Putin "a killer."

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"There are a lot of killers." Trump responded. "We've got a lot of killers. What do you think -- our country's so innocent. You think our country's so innocent?"

Aghast at Trump's heresy, O'Reilly sputtered, "I don't know of any government leaders that are killers."

Trump: "Well -- take a look at what we've done too. We made a lot of mistakes. I've been against the war in Iraq from the beginning."

O'Reilly: "But mistakes are different than --"

Trump: "A lot of mistakes, but a lot of people were killed. A lot of killers around, believe me."

"Moral Equivalence"

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Though Trump is justly criticized for often making claims that aren't true, here he was saying something that clearly was true. But it has drawn fierce condemnation from across Official Washington, not only from Democrats but from Trump's fellow Republicans, too. Neoconservative Washington Post opinion writer Charles Krauthammer objected fiercely to Trump's "moral equivalence," and CNN's Anderson Cooper chimed in, lamenting Trump's deviation into "equivalence," i.e., holding the U.S. government to the same ethical standards as the Russian government.


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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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