ICYMI: Trump praises terrorists, calling them ‘very smart’

Donald Trump praises terrorists

Donald Trump has always been a terrible human being, but no one can say he wasn’t effective. He conquered the Republican Party and won the presidency by projecting power and strength. He also has an uncanny ability to tickle the conservative lizard brain, validating their most racist, sexist, xenophobic, and bigoted tendencies. However, those political instincts seem to have abandoned Trump lately. His low-energy, slurred-word, bizarrely meandering speeches (like this one and this one) are getting him in repeated trouble.

Trump has already angered his anti-abortion constituency by criticizing the draconian restrictions that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law. But today, Trump finally united his Republican primary challengers in outrage. First, he criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because Netanyahu, in Trump’s words, “didn’t make me feel too good.” Second, Trump made sure everyone understood just how impressed he was by the terrorists attacking Israel. “You know, Hezbollah’s very smart, they’re all very smart. The press doesn’t like when they say [unintelligible],” he said. But just in case his admiration wasn’t clear enough, he restated his main point: “But Hezbollah, they’re very smart.” Good luck walking that one back.

The 2016 version of Trump would not have made this mistake, but that Trump wasn’t burdened with two-plus years of post-presidential grievances. Trump never got over Netanyahu congratulating Joe Biden on his victory in 2020. “Fuck him,” Trump said about Netanyahu at the time. For Trump, that anger now manifests as him praising terrorists.

Republicans still can’t govern

Trump isn’t the only challenge facing Republicans, who every single day prove their inability to govern. In the House of Representatives, the Republican majority still can’t get their act together to pick a speaker. While earning the official backing of a majority of the Republican caucus, Rep. Steve Scalise is still a long way from the 217 votes he needs from the entire House to become speaker. With enough “hard no” votes among nihilist Republicans to scuttle any leadership vote, Republicans remain paralyzed—and will continue to be until they cut a deal with Democrats. What could Democrats demand? At minimum: funding for Ukraine, Israel, and disaster relief; an omnibus bill to keep the government funded until after the 2024 elections; and an end to the baseless impeachment inquiry against Biden. Meanwhile, Rep. Kevin McCarthy wants his old job back, and he thinks pretending to be an elder statesman will get him there. His problem? He sucks at it.

So where is Trump in all of this? Ghoulishly using Scalise’s cancer diagnosis to undermine him.

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Trump’s latest anti-corruption move: PR event alongside world leader charged with corruption

Donald Trump really cares about fighting corruption, his impeachment defense lawyers keep telling us. He cares so much that he held up nearly $400 in military aid to Ukraine to ensure that it would crack down on corruption (in a way that would just so happen to benefit him personally). And now Trump has showed how strongly opposed he is to corruption by … unveiling a major (deeply problematic) Middle East plan alongside a world leader who was indicted just today for corruption.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. In one of the three cases, he steered hundreds of millions of dollars in regulatory benefits to a media company owned by a friend, and in exchange got favorable news coverage. Netanyahu tried to argue he was immune to prosecution and has called the prosecution an “attempted coup.” So actually, he’s the perfect person for Trump to be standing with on the last day of the defense’s opening arguments in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The plan Trump and Netanyahu are unveiling “is overwhelmingly expected to be skewed in Israel's favor and is largely viewed as dead on arrival in the region,” CNN reports. Former Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman charged that Netanyahu is using the event and the plan to boost his own political strength, saying that “Netanyahu is taking a political plan and turning it into a survival plan for him personally.”

With Israel set for an unprecedented third election in early March after the last two resulted in deadlocks, Lieberman explained, “Everyone understands that, 34 days before an election, it is impossible to start a deep, meaningful, fundamental discussion.” Cynically using sham policy for personal political benefit? Another way the Trump-Netanyahu partnership on this plan, on this day is a perfect meeting of minds.

But an hour after Trump was side by side with Netanyahu, his impeachment defense team will be back to argue that he really, really cares about corruption. Tell us another one, guys.