It’s only the middle of a Saturday afternoon and I’ve already changed my mind twice about what to write about. So it goes in the blog business. I confess it’s not the most important subject on the merits that I’ve read about in the last 24 hours. But it is arguably one of the most emblematic of the era of instinctively anti-Trump media coverage (I refuse to dignify it with the word “journalism”) in which we’re living.
As I’m sure you know by now, President Trump left Washington, D.C. yesterday for his first foreign trip, and the first stop has been Saudi Arabia. And almost on cue, the new-ish media site Axios.com posted an article with the sensational headline “Conservatives ignore Trump’s bow to Saudi leader.” And if you know anything about recent U.S.-Saudi diplomacy and protocol, this does indeed seem like an inexcusable example of American right-wing hypocrisy.
After all, conservatives did blast former President Obama in 2009 for bowing to the Saudi king at a meeting in London. And in my view, they were right to do so. Monarchs insist on such gestures as acknowledgments of their supremacy over all supposedly lesser mortals. Why on earth should any U.S. leader – or any American – feed this deeply un-democratic and profoundly un-American conceit? And by the way, I’d apply the same standard to the Queen of England – who, unlike any kings of Saudi Arabia (in all likelihood a major funder of Al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups), seems like a perfectly nice and in many respects admirable individual.
So indeed – what the heck was Mr. Trump doing emulating his predecessor? And why aren’t conservatives up in arms? Here’s why. As is clear from the two photos in question, Mr. Trump was just bowing slightly to enable King Salman – who is shorter – to give him a medal. Then King Abdullah was also shorter than Mr. Obama. But no act like a medal award was involved that required a lowering of the Obama noggin or a bend at the waist.
Moreover, Axios reporter Alexi McCammond overlooked a genuine opportunity to point out a Trumpian hypocrisy on this score. The president’s wife and daughter, who accompanied him on the trip, and wore no headscarves – something that’s ordinarily a major no-no in Saudi Arabia’s arch-conservative Islamic theocracy. Lately, the Saudis have been making exceptions for visiting foreign dignitaries – hence the bareheaded Trump women. But private citizen Trump didn’t seem to know this in 2015, when he slammed then First Lady Michelle Obama for going headscarf-less on a visit to the Kingdom.
So not only are we living through an era of almost pervasively biased and double standard-ridden “journalism” and social media commentary (coming from all sides, as shown by the Trump comment above). Even by their own debased norms, we’re living through an era of thoroughly incompetent “journalism”:and social media commentary.