Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Father Figure

Vox's Emily Stewart reports

China has approved a plan to abolish presidential term limits, opening the door for President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely.

China’s National People’s Congress, the country’s national legislative body, voted on Sunday to change the country’s constitution to allow Xi to remain in power beyond his scheduled 2023 departure. In February, the Chinese Communist Party proposed the change; Sunday’s vote was largely considered a rubber-stamp exercise. Out of 2,964 votes, only two delegates voted against the constitutional change, while three abstained. The alteration removes phrasing that says China’s president and vice president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms.”

This would be the nation which has been referred euphemistically to as "China" since it enacted market reforms and began to embrace the profit motive, which some in this country have sold as synonymous with "freedom." Now none dare recognize it as "Communist China" or even "mainland China."

And of course that makes Xi Jinping one of the favorites of President Trump, who

raised eyebrows earlier this month at a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser when he praised President Xi’s power grab and suggested he might not mind trying it himself. “He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

At a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, Trump brought up the matter again — and media reports of it — and noted his remarks were made in jest. “But I’m joking. And they knew I was joking, everybody in the room was laughing, everybody’s having a great time. I’m joking about being president for life,” he said.

If Trump didn’t have such a habit of admiring dictators and strongmen — including on Saturday, where he publicly admired China and Singapore for executing drug dealers — it might make the public a little less wary about his jokes.

Many a true word is spoken in jest.  Moreover, a preference for authoritarianism is not the only think Trump has in common with Xi Jinping.  In 2014, a successful effort was launched to rebrand the latter as "Xi Dada," which translates as Uncle Xi or Big Daddy Xi.

Although the name has since been dropped, China scholar David Shambaugh at the time stated "I thought the Chinese system had moved beyond one-man rule and personality cults."

Evidently not- but "Big Daddy" has a parallel in American politics.

Interviewed on 60 Minutes in January, 2015,  Donald Trump, aiming to reassure voters that rescinding the Affordable Care Act wouldn't leave people without health care coverage, claimed "I am going to take care of everybody,. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now."

As a declared candidate a year earlier, Trump tweeted 'I will take care of the veterans who have served this country so bravely."

When last September President Trump revealed the Administration would phase out President Obama's DACA regulations, he declared Dreamers "are here illegally. They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody."

This is an essential part of the Trump strategy- portraying himself as such a big, strong leader that he will "take care of" people and be a comforting presence. He is the "Big Daddy" Xi Jinping once was... before Xi Jinping established the one-man rule which was not generally expected.

We now know what the Chinese leader had in mind.  So does (if re-elected) Donald Trump. He has told us.

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