Perhaps there have been others but to my knowledge only Andrew Bolt nailed it. The dust-up is Malcolm Turnbull’s fault. Though, mind you, slippery Julie Bishop shouldn’t be let off the hook. This is a dumb deal, as President Trump so pithily put it.
Now let’s see. The United States agrees to admit 1250 so-called refugees stuck in Australia’s offshore detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island. We knew this was even more bizarre that Julia Gillard’s Malaysian deal when we first heard of it. It never passed the sniff test. Why in the world would the US ever agree to it? Ah! The US body politic did not agree to it. Barack Hussein Obama and his left-wing henchmen did. There’s the rub that Mr Turnbull should have appreciated from the very start.
Does anyone think that Hillary Clinton would have agreed to such a dumb deal if she’d been elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. Of course she wouldn’t. If elected in 2016, she would not have undone it or railed against it, but that is not the same thing.
This is hard for nearly all commentators. Put yourself in Trump’s position. He was elected on November 8 in large part because he promised to crackdown on illegal immigration and take resolute action to prevent Islamic terrorists from entering the US. While in the making for some time, the dumb deal was not finally concluded and signed off until November 13. Five days passed during which Mal and Julie should have thought about it. Signing that dumb deal was tantamount to spitting in the eye of Trump. The honourable and diplomatically proper procedure for Turnbull to have adopted would have been to sign the deal subject to its ratification by the President-elect when he took office.
Turnbull knew that he would be pilloried politically if the deal fell through. He knew his political capital was rock bottom. He calculated that it was better to embarrass the new president than it was to suffer more domestic political odium. He was too clever by half, but seems to have got away with it. Why? Because Trump is a political pariah who can do no right.
Perception is reality. And all of the MSM reportage and commentary that I have come across in Australia and in the US has the little guy being bullied by the big guy. Trump is the villain; as he was absolutely bound to be. Republican Senator McCain apologised to the Australian ambassador for Trump’s behaviour. What a lark, Turnbull must be thinking.
This is a verbatim taste of the Australian press’s Trump-berating emphasis: petulant Trump, tweeting like a juvenile, badgering and bragging, appearing to be unhinged, treating Australia like dirt, stamping his feet and screaming, completely clueless, a narcissistic buffoon. The last ad hominem attack came courtesy of a dug-up quote from the diplomatic ex-diplomat Kim Beazley.
Not being privy to this particular telephone conversation nor to any of the others between world leaders since the telephone was invented in 1876, I don’t know how far out of diplomatic bounds this one was. No Trump fan, Greg Sheridan seemed to take a grounded view. “Too much is being made of Trump’s leaked testy language [it was] the end of a long day and he was tired and terse.” That kind of balanced comment is going to get Sheridan drummed out of the press collective. He should have at least once included the descriptor buffoon.
Never mind the substance, what about the style? This pretty well sums up the MSM’s reaction to everything Trump does. It is plainly pathetic and common-sense people — those Deplorables — can see through it. In this case, Turnbull pulled a shifty on Trump. Trump knew it. Imagine how galling it must have been for him to be reminded by Turnbull that they were both businessmen and a deal is a deal. I am surprised that Trump didn’t use a string of expletives. President Nixon undoubtedly would have, and there would have gone his reputation down the toilet.
Let’s go back to why this deal was ever contemplated by President Obama. Who first suggested it? I just cannot believe it came from the Australian end, as desperate as the government is to empty detention centres. I mean, surely, this would not have entered Turnbull’s or Bishop’s wildest imaginings. It must have come out of Obama’s henchmen. Maybe I am paranoid but if these refugees had been Hindus, Buddhists, Jews or Seventh Day Adventists would this deal have ever entered Obama’s wildest imaginings? I think not. He just likes Muslim immigrants; their religion and their proclivity for voting left.
Is this any way to treat a loyal ally, ask the Trump critics. I would suggest a different question be put to Turnbull. Is bushwhacking a new US president any way to treat an ally? Turnbull has earned brownie points for standing his ground against ‘the big bully’. Okay, but exactly what options did he have once he’d unequivocally committed to this dumb and slimy deal with Obama, five full days after Trump was elected; which he knew would put the new president in an impossible position (as of course, calculatingly, did Obama)?