I don’t know whether President Trump called any countries “s***holes” yesterday. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he disparaged certain countries, as is his wont, and he may well have done so profanely.
If he did, and if doing so hurt America, then Sen. Durbin and others in the room should have kept Trump’s statement to themselves. No patriotic American would hurt this country’s international standing just to embarrass the president or in the hope of gaining a little leverage in negotiations (which, I’m pretty sure, Durbin has failed to do).
But patriotism has never been Dick Durbin’s long suit. During the Bush administration, he compared American soldiers to Nazis, Soviets, and Pol Pot. (See video below).
Now that the alleged “s***hole” comment is out there, we’re starting to hear, inevitably, about comparable remarks made by others. The Daily Caller reminds us that President Obama referred to Libya as a “s***show,” which it surely was. In 2016, Atlantic, quoting Obama, reported:
“So we actually executed this plan as well as I could have expected: We got a UN mandate, we built a coalition, it cost us $1 billion — which, when it comes to military operations, is very cheap. We averted large-scale civilian casualties, we prevented what almost surely would have been a prolonged and bloody civil conflict. And despite all that, Libya is a mess.
Mess is the president’s diplomatic term; privately, he calls Libya a “shit show,” in part because it’s subsequently become an ISIS haven — one that he has already targeted with air strikes. It became a shit show, Obama believes, for reasons that had less to do with American incompetence than with the passivity of America’s allies and with the obdurate power of tribalism.
Obama’s profane disparagement of Libya received little attention, nor should it have. No one claimed it demonstrated racism against Arabs. Nor should anyone have.
Lindsey Graham used language less profane but equally disparaging to describe Mexico, a major ally and one of the most important countries in our hemisphere. In 2013, during debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee, he declared:
The people coming across the southern border live in hellholes. They don’t like that. They want to come here. Our problem is we can’t have everybody in the world who lives in a hellhole come to America.
Jeff Session took exception to Graham’s language. He said: “It’s not a hellhole, it has great things going on in Mexico, we’re proud of the people in Mexico.” Graham then tried to walk his statement back, claiming that he “wasn’t slandering Mexico” but rather “talking about all the places people want to leave, for whatever reason.” In other words, all the countries that people want to leave are hellholes.
Trump should not have used profane language to describe Haiti and/or African nations (if that’s what he did). Obama should not have used profane language to describe the mess in Libya. Graham is just a Senator, not the president, but he too should have chosen his words more carefully.
None of these statements is that big of a deal, though. Way too much is being made of Trump’s alleged remarks.
And if I’m wrong about this — if Trump’s comments have materially harmed the U.S. in its foreign relations — then Dick Durbin should not have let word of the comment leave the room.