Trump’s yahapalanaya (Island Editorial)
The unfolding political drama in the US is very interesting. We once expressed concern about so many American state officials and diplomats coming here after the 2015 change of government. No, we didn’t buy into various anti-US conspiracy theories concocted by defeated politicians who usually see more devils than vast hell can hold. We were actually concerned about the risk of the American democracy getting exposed to dirty, infectious Sri Lankan politics through the US officials shuttling between Washington and Colombo. Unfortunately, all our warnings went unheeded and, now, see what has happened to the US politics.
US President Donald Trump has accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of orchestrating protests and White House leaks against him. So, according to him all his trouble comes from the grassy knoll as it were. Sounds familiar? Immediately after the 2015 regime change, the victorious Sirisena camp complained of an anti-government conspiracy by the outgoing President Mahinda Rajapaksa and even lodged a complaint with the CID against him. (Editor, Isn’t it a truth? -TW)
Cartoon googled and added by TW
Weeks before last year’s presidential election Trump complained of sinister attempts being made in some quarters to rig polls. Now that he has secured the presidency, he is silent on that serious allegation. He has sounded just like Sri Lanka’s Opposition politicians who consider elections they cannot win rigged. The anti-Trump groups, unable to come to terms with Hillary Clinton’s defeat, have been doing just like the UNP-led common Opposition, which ably assisted by a section of the media, refused to accept the 2010 presidential election results and held public protests. Opponents of Trump have taken to the streets rejecting him.
It looks as if the anti-Trump protesters had taken a leaf out of the JVP’s book. They have been seen getting tiny tots to beat effigies of Trump in public before setting them on fire. It may be recalled that the JVP forced even kindergarten children to protest against the setting up of Provincial Councils in the late 1980s and they were heard shouting in a sweet voice, ‘Pala baba apita epa’ (‘We don’t want green leaves baby) instead of ‘Palath Sabha apita epa’ (We don’t want Provincial Councils). They were too young even to pronounce ‘Palath Sabha’ properly let alone voice their opposition to them.
Trump’s rivals, still smarting from last year’s electoral defeat, apparently spare no effort to cast him and his administration in a bad light. They have recently torn a female advisor to him to shreds for kneeling on a White House sofa during a function. They are trying to take the moral high ground though far worse things happened on White House sofas and couches during Bill Clinton’s tenure as President. One is reminded of the Joint Opposition blaming the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration for the increasing crime rate and rampant corruption and failure to rein in unruly government politicians!
America is known to have cherished media freedom and President Thomas Jefferson famously said that if it were to be left to him to decide where there should be a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government he would not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But, President Trump is apparently on the same wave length as Sri Lankan leaders who indulge in media bashing and see journalism as a fountainhead of evil. He has dubbed the press ‘the enemy of the American people’! He also had several newspapers and television channels perceived to be hostile to him banned from the White House media briefings. They included The Guardian, the New York Times, Politico, CNN, BuzzFeed, BBC, The Daily Mail and several others. Trump has capped his attacks on the media with a twitter message that he will not attend this year’s White House Correspondents’ dinner, which is traditionally graced by the US President and Vice President.
The Trump administration like our yahapalana government is characterised by impetuosity and a propensity to bite off more than it can chew besides placing square pegs in round holes in the state service. It also gets its priorities mixed up and puts the cart before the horse. Instead of effecting an immediate course correction as regards the US economy in bad shape, President Trump is busy doing other things. One of the first few things he did was to sack the Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for opposing his travel ban and appoint Dana Boente to that post. Then, he appointed Scott Pruitt as the Head of the Environmental Protection Agency, which the latter spent most of his time suing as the Oklahoma Attorney General.
What shall we call Trump’s style of governance? Did we hear someone say yahapalanaya?