WashPost’s Max Boot Flip-Flops on Dictators: Impeach Trump, and ‘Cut Biden Some Slack’

This story is made up of two columns, written by the exact same columnist.

One sympathizes with the president dealing with dictators. One slams the president for having to deal with dictators. The other is furious. Max Boot was the author of both columns. The Washington Post The only thing that is different about this president is who he refers.

The new column is about Joe Biden dealing with presidents and you can see the fawningly sympathetic attitude of the column titled, “Cut Biden some slack. The U.S. presidents must deal with dictators.

On Friday, Biden was photographed — by the Saudis, naturally — engaging in that greeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, popularly known as MBS. Given that U.S. intelligence concludes that MBS was responsible for the execution of the operations that resulted in the dismemberment and killing of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, this encounter proved to be more awkward than it should have been. Biden once vowed to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah” for carrying out this murder, so the fact that he is now fist-bumping with MBS understandably provokes outrage.

That distasteful picture made me recoil at first. Then I remembered that MBS was not the only despot the U.S. has greeted with similar manners. Harry Truman shook hands with Joseph Stalin, Richard Nixon with Mao Zedong — and both of those dictators had far more blood on their hands than MBS. While columnists may hurl rageous rants from the top, moral purity is something that no great leader can afford. Every president has to pursue both America’s ideals and its interests — and often they are at odds.

In the case of the Saudis, we simply don’t have the luxury of completely isolating one of the world’s largest oil producers. If the United States won’t support the Saudis, Russia and China will — and they will care far less about human rights than we do.

Sometimes there simply isn’t a perfect policy, and the best a president can do is try to pursue the least-bad approach. That’s what Biden is doing, and, while it might be morally satisfying to castigate him, I’m inclined to cut him some slack.

This compassionate understanding for why Biden had to deal with a dictator is utterly absent from Boot’s angry attack upon President Trump in which no slack was cut on November 17, 2019. The title was “Trump’s corrupted foreign policy: Coddle the dictator, abuse the ally”:

Trump was seen adoring Turkish President Recep TAYYIP Erdogan. He is an anti-American dictator and has ethnically cleansed Kurds from northern Syria. “You’re doing a fantastic job for the people of Turkey,” Trump gushed. Of course he did: By Trump’s lights, this is how a leader should behave.

Trump’s corruption of U.S. foreign policies will not stop unless his office is impeached or removed by election.

Max Boot’s hypocrisy seems “hitherto inconceivable.”

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