. . . I’m simply a mom who saw a child in need and pulled over to try to help,” she said. “The whole time I was by the side of the road, I was thinking: What country am I in? This is not the United States.
Speaking of which, the Times’ David Leonhardt reminds us how Trump is helping slide the world from democracy toward autocracy:
In Germany, Italy, Poland, Denmark, Sweden and Spain, far-right politicians have received an alarming level of support in recent elections. In Hungary, Brazil and Turkey, far-right authoritarians run the government.
Yesterday, President Trump hosted one of those authoritarians at the White House, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary.
Since his last visit to the White House — in 2001, during his previous stint as prime minister — Orban has transformed himself from a pro-democracy, center-right politician to a strongman. He has gerrymandered and changed election rules to undermine his political opponents, taken over much of Hungary’s media, packed the country’s courts with allies and demonized Muslim immigrants and Jews.
So Orban’s meeting with Trump is an important legitimizing moment for the global far right. “In normal times, he would be condemned by the occupant of the White House,” writes Vox’s Zack Beauchamp. “The fact that he isn’t shows just how serious the threat to democracy in the West is.”
The visit fits a wider Trumpian pattern: allying himself with authoritarian leaders, based on shared nationalistic, anti-immigrant and antidemocratic values. “In a way, it is the ultimate irony: The nationalists, the anti-globalists, the people who are skeptical of international laws and international organizations — they, too, now work together, across borders, for common causes,” The Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum wrote recently. Trump is using the presidency to enhance the global standing of authoritarianism.
He’s also imitating far-right tactics at home, by rejecting American traditions like balance of power and the rule of law. As David Cornstein, a longtime friend of Trump’s who is now the American ambassador to Hungary, told The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer in a recent piece about Orban’s Hungary: “I can tell you, knowing the president for a good 25 or 30 years, that he would love to have the situation that Viktor Orban has, but he doesn’t.”
Related: I visited Hungary last year and found it both normal and chilling.
Trump’s 1989 ad calling for the death penalty for five black teenagers (later proven innocent) concluded with this idea: “CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!”
And if we know anything from Trump*, it’s that our safety is under attack . . . by rapists and murderers streaming across the border and treason at the highest levels of the FBI and socialists who want universal health care . . . so, really, all this liberal “civil liberties” “rule of law” stuff needs to be put in perspective. Putin doesn’t have to deal with it. Kim Jong Un doesn’t have to deal with it. Orban and Erdogan and Duterte and MBS don’t have to deal with it. Why should Trump?
*Other than that he would “absolutely” release his tax returns, and that he had the largest crowd in history at his inauguration, and that investigators he sent to Hawaii to establish Obama’s Kenyan birthplace were finding some incredible things, and that the Trump Tower meeting was about adoption, and that he knew nothing about a pay off to a porn star — and so many other facts he’s told us directly (all 22 of his women accusers are lying and he will be suing them).
Quote of the Day
To produce an income tax return that has any depth to it, any feeling, one must have Lived and Suffered.~Frank Sullivan, American humorist
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