From the Washington Post:
The president of the United States apparently regards the leader of the Chinese Communist Party as a model. “He’s now president for life,” President Trump told supporters this past weekend. “President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”
Trump was referring to Xi Jinping, who is currently orchestrating a power grab in Beijing that hasn’t seen its like since the days of Mao.
You don’t need a lot of imagination to guess what happened next. It’s just another one of the president’s jokes, his loyalists assured us: Once again, they sneered, those liberal idiots can’t take a bit of fun. They quickly laid into the press for even discussing it.
Trump loves to play the troll, and we don’t always need to rise to the bait. But this is one case where we shouldn’t let him get away with it.
First, it wasn’t some sort of isolated prank. Over and over again Trump has lavished praise on strongmen around the world: Putin, Erdogan, Sissi, Duterte. He’s spoken again and again about how he admires them. And they surely haven’t missed the fact that Trump had harsher words for Nordstrom when they pulled Ivanka Trump’s clothing line than the praise he has lavished on dictators and despots.
Second, autocrats and aspiring despots often use “jokes” as trial balloons to gauge public reaction to abuses of power as they flirt with implementing them.
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