It was a familiar scene: Bill O’Reilly pressing his guest to make a saber-rattling statement against Russia. Good for ratings, good for Raytheon (giant defense contractor in US)!
But Bill’s guest was President Trump, and he didn’t want to play along.
In an interview aired on 5th of February, 2017, before SuperBowl, Trump shut down O’Reilly’s unique brand of self-righteousness with one simple question: “You think our country is so innocent?”
After Trump reaffirmed his respect for Putin as a leader, Bill pressed him further: “But Putin is a killer.”
“There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers.” Then Trump asked: “Well, you think our country is so innocent?”
Trump added that he thinks the United States is “better” getting along with Russia than not.
“If Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all around the world, major fight, that’s a good thing”.
A few thoughts on this:
- Trump understands that Putin is not an anomaly among world leaders. In other words: If you label Putin a “killer”, what would you call Obama? One of these leaders had an actual kill list. And it wasn’t Putin.
- Trump’s statement is meaningful because it challenges America to dismount from its high horse, instead of lecturing from the perch of its blood-soaked saddle.
- What Trump is saying to Bill (and to the rest of America) is that we are entering a new era of true pragmatism. Gone are the days of self-righteous moralizing and chest-thumping idealism.
- Trump just illustrated the difference between “Making America Great Again” and decades of delusional American Exceptionalism.
It’s undoubtedly a good sign when the President of the United States refuses to bash a foreign leader, and instead asks his country to look inward.
April 10, 2017