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A country of men, not laws: a case study in reality TV intervention

I keep seeing that phrase thrown about as we talk about the stakes of the next election. Are we a country of laws, or of men? (Or of people? Haha, in this context, it’s DEFINITELY men). Although Trump likely has never considered this question directly because he’s far too thick, he clearly thinks the US is a country of men. Here’s the latest example.

If you haven’t been following this case and/or want a quick primer rather than clicking through, here’s the summary: Anne Sacoolas is the wife of an American diplomat posted to the UK where she was living with him at a military base. A couple of weeks ago, she drove off base on the wrong side of the road, and struck and killed a teenager on a bicycle named Harry Dunn. Before she could be arrested, she was spirited back to the US on the grounds of having diplomatic immunity. Unsurprisingly, the police here have requested that she be returned to the UK for further interview, and Mr and Mrs Dunn have pleaded that she do so. Mrs Sacoolas has expressed remorse, but has so far declined to return voluntarily. A serious discussion is brewing on the correct application of diplomatic immunity (and she’s since been stripped of it, but this is a moot point while she remains in the US). This is a higher-profile case in the UK than it is in the US due to the news-eclipse effect in the US, but it has reached a sufficient point that Trump himself has gotten wind of it.

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What happened next is straight out of the Trumpity TV playbook. The White House (clearly at 45's behest) extended an invitation to Mr and Mrs Dunn, without making it clear who they would be meeting with or the purpose of the meeting. They accepted this invitation and ended up meeting with Trump himself, who then said, “Anne Sacoolas is in the next room, do you want to meet her?” The Dunns were aghast and declined since there were no mediators present. (I get the impression that they aren’t out for blood justice and would quite like to convince Mrs Sacoolas to make the decision to return voluntarily or to use normal diplomatic channels to accomplish her return.) They reported afterwards that they were blindsided by this.

This, to me, is straight out of the Trump playbook. First, it’s a CLASSIC reality show move - “the person you’re talking about is in the next room, fight!” and has no relationship to any legal proceeding by which this should be resolved. Second, it’s colossally arrogant for him to think he could act as any kind of mediator for anything ever. More broadly, and this is not exactly news, he doesn’t give a shit about laws, procedure, or diplomatic measures - he wants to be The Decider of everything he hears about, all by himself. He’s always indicated that this is his way of doing things, all the way back to the Central Park Five, and he’s kept it up as president by meeting with Kim Kardashian about high-profile criminal cases or by getting involved in the incident with ASAP Rocky in Sweden.

It’s one thing to be rightly horrified and disgusted at his racism and sexism, but it’s absolutely also worth noting that the legal cases he keeps inserting himself into are already subject to legal procedures which we can recognize as deeply flawed. The fact that he prefers to jump in and dictate on the cases the catch his eye instead of correcting the flawed procedures is revolting. He wants rule of men. Specifically, of one man. Him. These aren’t big-ticket dictator tells like his other behavior, but they are frighteningly indicative and I think that’s not discussed enough.

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