BIDEN-TRUMP RACE DREADFUL PROSPECT FOR US
On August 1, former US President Donald Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury on four counts related to the 2020 election and the insurrection of January 6, 2021. Trump is charged with:1) conspiracy to defraud the US; 2) conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; 3) obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and 4) conspiracy to violate rights.
This was Trump’s third indictment since March.
While America deals with the unprecedented indictment of a former president, in the White House sits an elderly president who wants to be re-elected next fall. American politics are indeed unpredictable. The endlessly deep divisions of American society come into view from the steady flow of reports by US news outlets daily devoting considerable time and space to coverage of the American political scene.
Three major US dailies—the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post—noted in common that the latest indictment revealed no new facts about Trump’s alleged high crimes and misdemeanors. But their reports become polarized from this point on. While the Times and the Post, which expressly support the Democratic Party, place great weight in the latest indictment, the Journal, which generally supports the Republican Party, felt that there were no incriminating facts against Trump. One can be misled by relying only on one side of the two opposing camps for news involving Trump and his lawsuits. Below is a summary of the major points the two sides have raised as regards Trump’s latest indictment.
First, the New York Times. In a front-page Opinion column dated August 2, Charles M. Blow started by remarking:
“It reads like a movie script.”
He was referring to the 45-page August 1 federal indictment against Trump. The columnist went on:
“Most people don’t follow each iteration of a story, not because they’re uninterested but because they’re distracted. Their lives are happening…For that reason, the absorbable —and quite absorbing—summary that the indictment represents is crucial…
“Among other virtues, it isn’t written in dense legalese. It’s a drama that takes readers into Trump’s thinking. It allows them to see not only what lies Trump is accused of telling, but also how he viewed the things he said at the time he said them.”
Blow himself must have liked the summary very much, as he is strongly encouraging everyone to give it a read, noting: “The indictment isn’t a pleasant read, but it’s surprisingly readable. It isn’t entertainment, but it’s a must-read document detailing one of the gravest threats the country has ever faced from a president…”
“Could Get Up To 10 Years in Prison”
To say the least, the criminal trial of a former president is a serious matter. It is clear that Special Counsel Jack Smith has used all the powers of his office in writing the indictment. America’s already fierce political struggle has thus been brought to the courts, with hearings expected to be held simultaneously with the presidential campaign. The American people will be observing the trial and the presidential race at the same time. Naturally, the race will be significantly affected by the trial. The prosecution, which is out to convict Trump, is trying hard to win the support of the people. That is why it has written a summary resembling an uncomplicated drama script. Taking it at face value, the Times columnist stressed that the document is a “must-read,” urging the reader to fully accept the scenario elaborated by the prosecution. I see that itself as a gross failure of journalism. What’s the matter with the New York Times!
What did the daily say in its editorial on the same day? Occupying two-thirds of page 9, it speculated that the special counsel’s strategy is to try and get Trump convicted for lying. The editorial criticized Trump’s defense team for reportedly preparing to argue that Trump was only exercising his right to free speech, when what is at issue is Trump’s actions following the voting in the 2020 election.
If there is a guilty verdict for violating the people’s right to vote, the editorial noted, Trump could get “up to 10 years in prison.” The Post’s reports and editorial are basically similar to the Times,’ leading to one, sure conclusion: “Mr. Trump should never again be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office.”
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal took notice of what is not in the indictment, noting: “There is no evidence tying Mr. Trump to the Oath Keepers or Proud Boys who planned to, and did, breach the US Capitol that day.”
The Journal further pointed out that the document concedes that Trump “had a right, like every American, to speak publicly about the election and even to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he had won.”
While explaining that ‟Mr. Trump can lie about the election all he wants,” the Journal emphasized that it has not supported him unconditionally, citing its track records of balanced reporting on Trump.
In point of fact, the Journal has fundamentally been critical of Trump’s behavior, repeating its argument in its editorial afresh that “Trump should have resigned in disgrace after the events of January 6.” In this regard I believe the Journal took the right stand as a responsible media outlet.
Scandals of Both Bidens May Be Laid Bare
The Journal has concluded that in the coming presidential election, the Democratic Party is eager to see Trump become the Republican presidential candidate, because Democrats believe Biden would beat Trump.
If the next presidential race is fought between Biden and Trump, noted the Journal, “We will have an election campaign that rotates between courtrooms and rallies. The carnival will make it difficult for other Republicans to be heard. A debate between Joe Biden and Mr. Trump, if they are the nominees, will be over one man’s age and infirmity and another’s attempt to stay out of jail.”
One of the specific news items liberal US media outlets have not been too keen on reporting is a tax and gun scandal involving Hunter Biden, the president’s son. The liberal press obviously fears that pursuing it would lead to new scandals laid bare, tied to Joe Biden while he was serving Barak Obama as vice president.
But Trump is in the same boat when it comes to family problems. In her August 4, 2023 opinion column in the Washington Post, journalist Kathleen Parker sharply cut to the heart of the matters involving Trump’s beloved daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner.
During the Trump administration, Ivanka and Jared successfully built the network of the century as trusted associates of the president. They even took charge of some of America’s crucial foreign policy matters. One of the strong personal connections they built was with Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. Known by his initials MBS, Salman is crown prince and prime minister of Saudi Arabia and considered its de facto ruler.
MBS was internationally isolated for quite some time, under fire from the international community for orchestrating the assassination of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Khashoggi, a former Saudi royal insider, became a leading critic of the Saudi kingdom. US-Saudi relations have soured under the current Democratic administration. After leaving the White House, however, Ivanka and Jared founded a multi-billion-dollar global investment fund, which is said to have received significant funding from the Saudi government. This sort of thing could only have been possible by taking advantage of Trump’s position and would be similar in nature to what Hunter Biden allegedly did by using his father’s influence.
Trump’s approval rating has gone up following his third indictment. The two aged political figures most likely will further drive America into chaos. It’s high time for Japan, which has been too dependent on the US, to seriously think about how it should behave as a responsible democracy and the world’s third largest economic power. It goes without saying that we should do our utmost to further bolster the US-Japan alliance, but we also need to make every effort to showcase more forcefully our real national power and well-thought-out strategy in formulating our security and China policies.
(Translated from “Renaissance Japan” column no. 1,061 in the August 17-24 combined issue of The Weekly Shincho)