SAN DIEGO – Did you hear what Vicente Fox thinks of the wall that Donald Trump wants to build on the U.S.-Mexico border?
We could print his comments in their entirety, but this is a family newspaper.
The former president of Mexico recently used vulgar language to make the point that, no matter what Trump tells supporters, our neighbor isn’t about to foot the bill for a border wall.
“I’m not going to pay for that [expletive] wall,” Fox said during multiple network interviews.
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As if this election wasn’t ugly enough. The former president of Mexico just affixed a few more scars. Americans hate lectures from foreign leaders.
There are two ways to look at this episode – in the micro and in the macro.
In the micro, I applaud Fox for dressing down Trump and giving the former reality star a dose of reality. It’s clear that Mexico is not going to just hand over a check for a wall, and that Trump has in mind a series of tariffs, bans and penalties that could prompt a trade war. He won’t say that. But this is what it means to “have Mexico pay for the wall.” That needs to be brought into the open. Fox did his part to turn up the heat on Trump so that it could be. Good for him.
Yet in the macro, I have to criticize Fox – as I would any former president of Mexico – for having the gall to scold the United States for its attempts to keep out Mexican immigrants who travel north because they are poorly served by their government. The reason that millions of illegal immigrants from Mexico find themselves at the tender mercies of someone like Donald Trump is because their own country failed them. Fox would do well to remember that.
Illegal immigration into the United States represents a win-win for Mexico. The Mexican economy doesn’t have to make room for millions of less-educated, low-skilled workers who instead flee to the north. And, as a bonus, Mexico takes in about $25 billion in annual remittances from its expatriates. So, of course, Mexicans want to maintain the status quo.
In response to Fox’s off-color remarks, Trump tweeted: “FMR PRES of Mexico, Vicente Fox horribly used the F word when discussing the wall. He must apologize! If I did that there would be a uproar!”
And when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Trump about the rebuff later during the raucous Republican presidential debate in Houston, the real-estate mogul defiantly responded that “the wall just got 10 feet taller.”
Trump seemed genuinely bothered by Fox’s foul language, and he insisted that he would never get away with using such a word.
“I saw him use the word that he used,” Trump said. “I can only tell you, if I would have used even half of that word, it would have been a national scandal. This guy used a filthy, disgusting word on television, and he should be ashamed of himself, and he should apologize, OK?”
Who knew that Donald Trump was so sensitive and dignified? Of course, Trump has never said anything offensive – about anyone. At least not in the last 30 minutes.
It’s comical that Trump blushed when Fox dropped the F-bomb given that the billionaire has dropped more than his share.
In April 2011, during a speech in Las Vegas, Trump described the situation in Iraq this way: “We build a school, we build a road, they blow up the school, we build another school, we build another road, they blow them up, we build again. In the meantime, we can’t get a [expletive] school in Brooklyn.” A few minutes later, Trump also addressed the rising cost of importing oil by saying this: “We have nobody in Washington that sits back and said, you’re not going to raise that [expletive] price.” And, later in his remarks, while discussing the idea of taxing goods from China, Trump said this: “Listen, you mother-[expletive], we’re going to tax you 25 percent.”
Trump may be a hypocrite, but he’s right about one thing. The former president of Mexico should apologize. But not to Trump.
Fox should apologize to all Mexican immigrants living in the United States – for not providing them enough opportunity, for casting them adrift, and for subjecting them to the ravings of a clown.
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.