Jill Abramson has an Op-Ed in today’s NY Times that cover an important topic. The blatant corruption of the Trump family and the many ways in which they are leveraging their new found power to do business in China.
Yet, the article carries a racist sub-text, that this corruption somehow originates from China, rather than the Trumps themselves.
The Chinese know that one of the best ways to curry favor with any ruler is to shower riches on his family members. There are so many millionaires among the children of its leaders that they have a moniker: the Princelings.
Let’s not kid ourselves NYT, everyone knows this is a good way to curry favor with politicians. It isn’t a scheme shifty orientals came up with to corrupt the unblemished American political class, forcing them to peddle influence. We’ve executed quite a lot of corruption on our own, thank you very much. Both the former speaker of the NY Assembly and the Senate majority leader have been sentenced to jail for corruption. Skelos’ son got a lot of “consulting” gigs while his father was majority leader.
This uniquely Chinese brand of influence peddling is now being lavished on President Trump’s Princelings and Princesslings. Suddenly, all kinds of business opportunities have opened up for Trump family members in the notoriously closed Chinese market.
There’s nothing “uniquely Chinese” about this. Look at the careers of the children of many a senior politician and you’ll see how they’ve been aided by the helping hand of their powerful parents’ friends. “All kinds of business opportunities” open up for politicians and their families everywhere, when they attain or leave high-office.
Perhaps the NYT is unaware that American firms, including several blue chip investment banks have faced SEC investigations and penalties for hiring the relatives of politicians and senior business people to win business. Did someone twist their arm to do that? What about the hundreds of American firms who engaged in rampant bribery, leading to the passage of the FCPA?
Their family enterprises are seeking private favors from China, the second most powerful economy in the world. This is the country that is our biggest rival in the Pacific, one that the president himself says has hurt American workers. Then he mimics its infamous Princeling culture.
This isn’t the petty Washington corruption of lobbying favors or excess campaign donations. It is far more unseemly and dangerous to democracy.
This is the truly damaging thing about the Trump presidency, and about commentary of the sort the NYT is presenting here. The Trumps are brazen about their corruption and sycophancy, flaunting it at their own country club, in full view of TV cameras. That creates a tendency to view with nostalgia the equally damaging, pervasive influence peddling that other politicians engage in. It’s a version of all the “I never thought I’d miss GW Bush” comments. I don’t miss the guy who led us into an ill-advised war that has left an entire region of the world in chaos, destroyed the lives of tens of millions and left over a million dead.
The Trump clan’s shamelessness shouldn’t blind us to the ills of the more normal forms of corruption we have grown accustomed to.