Politicians [are] a set of men who have interests aside from the interests of the people. . . .
— Abraham Lincoln, 1837 Speech in Illinois Legislature
Herewith some remarkable similarities between Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, age 75, (who is married to former beauty queen, Marcela who is 32 years old), and the United States president-to-be, Donald Trump, age 70, (who is married to a former model, Melania, who is 46 years old.)
Mr. Temer became acting president of Brazil on May 12, 2016 following a vote by the Brazilian senate to impeach Dilma Rousseff, its president. As soon as Mr. Temer became acting president, he appointed ministers to serve in his cabinet. One of his first picks was Marcos Periera, a creationist bishop who does not believe in evolution. He was appointed to serve as the Minister of Science. That appointment did not sit well with the scientific community and, as a result, the appointment was rescinded and Mr. Pereira became the Minister of Trade.
Mr. Trump has offered a creationist the opportunity to serve in his cabinet. He nominated Ben Carson to be Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The fact that Mr. Carson does not believe in global warming or evolution should not adversely impact his ability to serve as secretary should he decide to accept the offer.
As Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Temer appointed Blairo Maggi, a man known as the “soy bean king” of Brazil. Mr. Maggi has been involved in extensive deforestation projects in Brazil and, prior to his appointment, was promoting a constitutional amendment to get rid of environmental restrictions on public projects.
Mr. Trump has selected Michigan’s Betsy DeVos to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers calls her “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee” ever. Ms. DeVos has long been an advocate for charter schools and has advocated putting taxpayer money into vouchers that can support private and parochial schools instead of increasing funding for public schools. Michigan provides $1 billion to charter schools annually. A 2015 federal review of charter schools in Michigan found that an “unreasonably high” percentage of charter schools were considered underperforming. In 2015 Ms. DeVos and a group she backed, successfully defeated Michigan legislation that would have prevented failing charter schools from expanding or replicating. To manage the transition team at the EPA, Mr. Trump has nominated a non-scientist, Myron Ebell, a climate change denier. He helps chair a group that is dedicated to “dispelling the myths of global warming.”
As health minister, Mr. Temer appointed Ricardo Barros who has no background in medicine. Mr. Trump has nominated Tom Price to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. He is a physician, but a dedicated opponent of the Affordable Care Act. He favors reducing the right of people with pre-existing conditions to get coverage, opposes funding for Planned Parenthood, and wants to increase restrictions on abortion.
On November 24, 2016, Marcelo Calero, Mr. Temer’s Minister of Culture, resigned from his post. He did so, he said, because Geddel Vieira Lima, the Legislative Affairs Minister and one of President Temer’s closest allies, had been putting pressure on him to approve the construction of a high rise luxury apartment building in which Mr. Geddel had purchased an apartment. The proposed apartment building, however, was in an historic preservation area that did not permit the construction of such a building. After Mr. Calero resigned, Mr. Temer vigorously defended Mr. Geddel against the charges that were levelled against him by Mr. Calero. Then Mr. Calero went to the federal police and said that Mr. Temer had spoken to him twice about the project and both times had pressured him to approve it. After that was disclosed, Mr. Gedell resigned.
During the campaign Mr. Trump spoke repeatedly of barring Muslims from entering the United States. That upset Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan who responded by demanding that Mr. Trump’s name be removed from Istanbul’s Trump Towers. Following a coup attempt in July, Mr. Erdogan ordered the arrest, detention and suspension of tens of thousands of government officials, academics and others. Commenting on Mr. Erdogan’s action, Mr. Trump said he gave great credit to Mr. Erdogan for defeating the coup and expressed no concern over the mass arrests. In response, President Erdogan appears to have withdrawn his demand that the names on the towers be changed. It could be described as a win-win or a tit for a tat.
On November 23, 2016, the editorial page of the New York Times suggested Congress should create a process to review future deals Mr. Trump enters into with foreign governments, so that we can all rest assured there will be “no arrangements that could affect Mr. Trump’s policy decisions.” There is no need for Congress to do that. As Mr. Trump said in a tweet: “Prior to the election, it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world. Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!” To prove that it is not a big deal he resorted to twitter to say that steps were being taken to “take me completely out of business operations,” without saying what steps they were. He did say he and the children would hold a press conference on December 15th to provide more details. That will be awaited with great anticipation by the crooked press as well as the rest of the country.