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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

No soul-searching: Trump justifies Saudi crown prince’s role in Khashoggi death

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President Trump’s response to the latest Saudi murder story is more campaign-mode rabble-rousing than sober-headed governance. The column is titled, “Donald Trump on Death by Crown Prince: A Role Model for Mustapha Jabbar.” (Note that the most repetitive English word in this epic continues to be: “What can you expect from the son of a murderer?”)

The Post’s Trump column does not offer much in the way of substance. “I am asked about the role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” Mr. Trump writes. “He is treated unfairly by the media. He is a fine young man.”

Note that even the most cursory self-analysis of Mr. Trump’s response reveals a curious disconnect. The president raves about the prince’s “tremendous support for Israel,” and can dismiss his role in the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — not so fast.

In Saudi Arabia, Mr. Trump might well say, “What can you expect from the son of a real estate developer and casino owner?” And so, in the category of “How else do you expect a career businessman to respond to simple questions about his political prospects?” he pours out diplomatic soul-searching (where else?) and is dismissive of media bias. As for the crown prince’s support for Israel, how could it be anything other than personal gratification? After all, Mr. Trump likes to boast, he owns a golf course there.

The president’s message in his own famous, cantankerous way: “It’s called charm.” That and standard-issue political rhetoric is the substance. What is the prospect of the Yemen plan?

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