Brendan W. Clark ’21
Far too often, I have heard the cries of those who proclaim that dignity has been fully restored in our American government with the termination of Trump’s tenure as president. The recent actions of politicians on both sides of the aisle beg to differ.
It would be difficult for any one politician to replicate the amalgamation of former President Donald Trump’s unsightly and offensive comments over the course of his four-year tenure. There is hardly a name in American history who commands such strong opinions. Indeed, the presidency of Donald Trump was rife with disrespectful commentary—in the Oval Office and on Twitter. Many an opinion article in the Tripod has already centered around the blunders of the Trump administration, so I will focus my efforts instead on the argument that just because that administration has ended, does not mean that morality reigns in our American government.
President Biden has proven himself a capable leader in the face of his predecessor and has won much praise for his early policies. Addressing climate change, encouraging mask-wearing in the midst of the pandemic, and speaking out on issues of equity are all strategies ripe to win the president near universal praise from his political base, and many are noble aims. Still, to absolve Biden from any criticisms, however, and to proclaim that morality has been “restored” to the American government is a lackadaisical—if not dangerous—approach to current affairs.
As a student journalist, I would be remiss not to take the opportunity to condemn President Biden’s lenient stance on the brutal murder of US resident, Saudi dissident, and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi—an act approved by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. To read about Mr. Khashoggi’s violent murder is heartbreaking and shocking. Biden’s inaction to address Saudi Arabia directly is a major blow to human rights.
During his presidential campaign, Biden correctly pointed out the human rights abuses of Saudi Arabia and its despot. In addition to Khashoggi’s murder, Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince are, in-part, responsible for the atrocities currently occurring in Yemen. Though Trump was also notorious for his friendly relationship with Saudi Arabia, this does not mean we shouldn’t also criticize Biden, particularly when human rights are at the center of the Democratic platform. While the release of the report by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines was an important first step, absent any sanctions or tangible actions against the perpetrator himself, the effort falls flat and certainly rings hollow.
Immorality still exists as the norm in the American government—from Governor Cuomo’s apparent cover-up of New York nursing home COVID deaths to Senator Cruz’s decision to spend the Texan Winter Storm on vacation in Mexico—it is clear that Trump leaving office was not the mass exodus of immorality in our nation’s government that some allege to have foreseen.