A few quick items before I have to dash off and sell books.
So, this newly-elected president of the Philippines, a character named Rodrigo Duterte, has called Barack Obama the “son of a whore.”
Duterte is a notorious serial philanderer and has spewed any number of stunning statements: he has cursed Pope Francis for visiting the Philippines and causing a traffic jam; he gay-slurred the US ambassador to the Philippines; he has pledged on numerous occasions to kill various petty criminals; he has admitted okaying thousands of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines’ drug trade war; he has advocated the assassinations of journalists whom he’s deemed corrupt; he even once pooh-poohed his own daughter’s claim that she was raped, calling her a “drama queen.” During the spring presidential election, he catcalled and whistled at a female reporter.
All this from the leader of a nation of more than 100 million people.
Is it my imagination or did world leaders at one time in the not-too-distant past tend to avoid calling each other names like sons of whores?
Duterte, like our very own D. Trump, is a populist who has gained enormous popularity as a man who says what’s on his “mind,” is a tough-talker, and who speaks “truth.”
One commentator yesterday said Duterte is a lousy example of a Filipino. Hmm, I wonder. His trust and popularity rating reached a jaw-dropping 91 percent in the country the week after he assumed office in June.
And, of course, Duterte has apologized for the Obama remark. Well, to be precise, he accepted no responsibility for being an uncivilized brute. His apology wasn’t for being a dick; it was for everybody wrongly concluding that he’s a dick. Duterte went on to express regret that his words came out as a personal attack. See, it wasn’t him, it was the words. Maybe they’re sons of whores, too.
Just a little reminder: The United States of America has never officially renounced the first-use of nuclear weapons. People who pretend to be sane about such things like to posit that a nuclear power merely possesses these existentially terrifying devices as a deterrent against another bad guy using them. The truth is our holy land places its approximately 7300 nukes at the forefront of all its military posturing and diplomatic initiatives. No nation on Earth ever forgets that if anyone pushes the US far enough, it’ll drop a big one or two on them.
Obama has pledged to move the planet toward a nuclear-bomb-free future but he’s finding that a near-impossibility. He can promise all he wants but the iron triangle comprised of the Pentagon, the defense industry, and the Congress is immovable as the Rock of Gibraltar. Then there are those pesky Russians and Chinese, each of whom has issued a no-first-use pledge but neither of whom is particularly trustworthy. I should add, each is about as untrustworthy as we are.
Obama was thinking of making the no-first-use pledge this week at a summit of Southeast Asian nations where he’s the first sitting US president to step foot into Laos. His advisers got hold of him and persuaded him not to get so warm and fuzzy.
One of the things we lose sight of when we talk about America’s nukes is how our national economy, as well as those of all the fifty states, are tied up in the manufacture of them.
Just a heads up: There’ll be no Big Talk this Thursday on WFHB‘s Daily Local News. The station is running its annual fundraiser, so on-air voices’ll be hitting you up for dough. Big Talk will return Thursday, September 15th. Talk to you then.