The father of one of the three UCLA basketball players arrested for shoplifting in China did something dumb. He questioned whether Trump did anything to get his son out of a Chinese jail. LaVar Ball is a nitwit, and has been for quite a while. All three of the players thanked the president when they apologized on TV the other day.
Meanwhile, the president of our whole country, Donald J. Trump, responded to LaVar Ball today by saying “I should have left them in jail.” No, you shouldn’t have done that. And you shouldn’t stoop to the level you did, but you apparently can’t help yourself.
The bigger issue is that we have a president who can be played by foreign adversaries. Maybe that is not completely new. Maybe previous presidents were also taken advantage of. But this one is so transparently hungering for flattery all day every day that he makes China’s job and Russia’s job and Iran’s job and pretty much every foreign leader’s job much too easy. They ought to at least have to work a little in order to manipulate the United States government. Well, actually Russia seems to have done just that, over years if not decades, with Trump. And if and when Donald Trump and/or his family members are incarcerated, should we leave them in jail? Should we forgive and pardon them? Will they ever ask for our forgiveness?
The president has declared that he has “complete power to pardon,” which may be almost true in a narrow legal sense (asserting power to judge his own case is dubious). He may yet pardon his son, son-in-law, and who knows who else. He may be able to remove Robert Mueller, and that would be a major crisis if Congress did not respond forcefully. But the larger issue for a democratic republic in which consent of the governed is inalienable is this: what’s our next move as citizens? We who are citizens and voters have the final power to grant reprieves and pardons in the larger sense. Some of us, perhaps clinging to a confirmation bias, believe the president is trying to make things better, if only it weren’t for the swamp-dweller lobbyists/Democrats/leftists/snowflake slackers/deep state. Some of us, that is, are not yet ready to let go of our pleasant fantasy of victimhood, even when our political party controls the presidency, the House and Senate, and the highest court. Others of us, suffering from unpacified forgetting, are still fighting over the 2016 Democratic primaries. My hope is that most of us, who are hoping above all that the government will be focused on serving, protecting, and increasing opportunities for as many Americans as possible, will bother to let our representatives know how we feel, and then vote at every opportunity to renew and refresh our government, showing no reprieve and no pardon for those who have unrepentantly abused the public trust.