We are told that Congresspeople of both parties are having a tizzy over Khashoggi’s muder, and the Trump Administration craven response. I am glad some Republicans are finally standing up to Trump. It’s possible they are doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, but it’s not unusual for someone to do the right thing for the wrong reason. And that’s better than doing the wrong thing.
That said, I find it puzzling that Republican senators have picked this particular issue as the occasion to stand up to Trump.
Trump has jumped the shark so many times. Why get upset over this particular shark?
Unobjectionable Sharks: Two Examples
Threats to Journalists
I think you take my point, but to illustrate briefly: I am glad to see Republicans standing up for journalists against tyrants. But Trump has repeatedly described the reality-based press in the United States as “enemies of the people.” And, time and again, he has used bellicose language reasonably calculated to incite the more irrational among his mob to commit bodily harm to reporters. I didn’t hear many complaints about that from Republicans.
And another example: The Nazis gave Sophie a choice, but ICE took all the immigrants’ babies from them. I didn’t hear many complaints about that from Republicans.
Last evening Politico, the house organ of the professional politicians, published a long piece describing the situation—Tensions over Trump and Khashoggi erupt in the Senate—without ever noting the anomaly of selective outrage, let along providing any explanation for it. The implication, I suppose, is that the Republicans were expressing simple moral outrage.
I don’t buy it.
Cause, Meet Effect
Now, my point here is not to make the simple argument that Republican senators are, generally speaking, a bad lot. Dog bites man. Not news. They have risen through the ranks of a system that rewards the spineless and spits out those with a degree of courage and decency, viz. Senators Flake and Corker. So what would you expect? If your organization rewards and promotes assholes, then you get an organization run by assholes. Cause, meet effect.
Two Possible Explanations for the Anomaly
My point is rather, why abandon the assholery on this particular topic?
And I really don’t know the answer. But reason suggests two possibilities. (The two possibilities aren’t mutually exclusive, nor do they exclude other additional factors.)
The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back?
Explanation one is that some of the Republican senators have had it up to their eyeballs with Donald J. Trump, but have not acted before out of fear of his mob. This time, they may think, the folks at the rallies won’t be offended if they stand up to a medieval Muslim murderer.
In short, maybe they’re just getting it out of their system.
The Benefits of High World Oil Prices
Explanation two is inspired by the maxim cherchez l’argent—never a bad idea when thinking about why politicians do what they do. There is some possibility that sanctions against the Crown Prince might, through one mechanism or another, lead to higher world oil prices.
Now, who would benefit from higher world oil prices?
Think hard, children.
Think really hard.
And I’ll bet you can Sherlock it out.