I first noticed it during the campaign when Chris Matthews asked him about Putin being a brutal dictator who murders his opponents and journalists. His response was along the lines of, "Do you think we're so pure here, that people haven't been killed?" And that was that, and the interview moved on.
It's happened repeatedly, and on Friday it happened yet again. He was asked about the United States continuing to do business with Saudi Arabia which has a terrible record of human rights brutality. And he responded basically, "There are many very bad countries we have done business with, very bad, that is a real problem." And as always, the interview mov...
Wait, hold on, a minute -- let's go back to that previous matter about Putin and killing people. It still galls me to no end that Chris Matthews accepted it and jumped to another subject. For the life of me, it's just stunning that he didn't follow-up by asking, "Seriously? What U.S. presidents do you know of who had citizens killed? And murdered journalists?" And not let Trump off the hook until he named one. Just one. And even if Trump lied and, let's say, said "Millard Fillmore," then Matthews should have followed-up with, "For the sake of argument, let's accept that for a moment, even though there's absolutely no evidence of it in existence -- that's one example you gave in 240 years of American history, so it clearly isn't a recurring pattern among U.S. presidents. So, it raises the question: do you think this was a 'Good Thing" he did, murdering citizens and journalists, or something utterly reprehensible that should be abhorred?" And then after Trump mumbled some new diversion about Hillary, emails and Obama, Chris Matthews should have said, "We'll get to that, but returning to my original question, regardless of anyone else in the world, we know that Putin has had civilian opposition killed and has had journalists murdered, it's been well-documented. What you do think about that, what do you think about Vladimir Putin having opponents and the press in his own country murdered?"
Which brings us back to the question on Friday about Saudi Arabia. So, yes, follow-up with Trump that the U.S. has many dealings with "bad actors" on the world stage, as the expression goes. And because of that, sir, sometimes we cut off relations with them, sometimes we go further and sanction them, sometimes we create an uncomfortable peace depending on the situation. So -- with all that in mind, sir -- "How does this relate to Saudi Arabia, because that's the situation at hand. Given all their human rights abuses, their murdering of thousands of citizens, their abuse of women, their possible involvement in 9/11, and now this probable brutal murder of a journalist...how should the United States deal with them??"
If a politician doesn't want to answer a question, we get that. It's pretty standard. But make them show that they don't want to answer it. Don't give them a free pass. Follow-up and hone in on what they actually said, and make them defend it if it's ludicrous, or make them explain how that relates to the question you actually asked. We learned in grade school that two wrongs don't make a right. So, just because someone else did something wrong, that's no answer to the question about someone else.
And going even further, after being questioned on Friday and having no way of not answering, Trump finally said that he will raise disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi with Saudi Arabia's King Salman.
And yes, I know that right now most everyone reading this has the almost verbatim thought.
"He said Saudi Arabia didn't do it. And he was very emphatic. And I believe him. I know our intelligence services have said that Saudi Arabia likely did it but there are many questions. No one knows. Many people say it could have been someone else. We just don't know. And really, there's no reason they would have done it. Or I mean, wouldn't have. You know, there are only so many times you can ask someone. And he said Saudi Arabia did not do this. And he's a very good man, a very good man. We do a lot of business with Saudi Arabia. So, we'll have to see."
And when he says that, I just want at least one reporter -- actually, no, I want every reporter, though I'll settle for one -- to reply what most everything is thinking: "You said that exact same thing about Russia and Putin and every brutal dictator you seem to be doing personal business with. And everyone listening to you knows that, because it's all on tape, and everyone has seen it and heard it repeatedly. And you let these brutal dictators off every time. And in the end, that's what gives aid and comfort to them and journalists like Jamal Khashaggi get murdered because they know you will let them get away with it. And it's why the other world leaders laughed at you in the U.N."
We know he lies. We don't have to accept it.
Oh, to add our own follow-up. Yes, everyone who had that same verbatim thought was, not shockingly -- correct. Because today, Trump told reporters that he spoke to the Saudi prince who said that he had absolutely no knowledge of the killing. "He didn’t really know," the adorably-trusting Trump said, adding almost charmingly, "Maybe, I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers -- I mean, who knows?’’
Hands, anyone? Anywhere here know if it was "rogue killers" inside the Saudi Arabia consulate who sneaked in, killed a well-known journalist, dismembered him, and sneaked with his body parts without anyone noticing.
Talking about "Going Rogue." Even Sarah Palin would be proud...