In the United States, norms dictate that presidents don't try to politicize freed hostages or the process in which they're brought home. Of course, we've all come to learn how much use Donald Trump has for norms.
With this in mind, the first night of the Republican National Convention featured a first-of-its-kind video: a sitting American president, hanging out in the White House with freed hostages as part of a roundtable chat. The clip was then added to the convention presentation as a way for Trump to pat himself on the back.
But it included a strange moment that stood out for a reason.
In a recorded segment at Monday night's RNC, President Trump praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while speaking with rescued American hostages, including Andrew Brunson, a pastor who was detained in Turkey -- by Erdogan -- several years. "I have to say, to me, President Erdogan was very good," Trump said at a meeting with hostages released under his administration.
Well, no, the point is that Erdogan wasn't very good. In this case, Trump was talking directly to an American who'd been unnecessarily detained for two years by Erdogan -- which as even Trump should know, is the opposite of being "very good."
Part of the problem, of course, is that the Republican has an unnerving fondness for authoritarian leaders. Another aspect of this is the fact that Trump seems to have a special affinity for Erdogan in particular, calling the Turkish leader a "great ally," a "strong man," and saying he's a "big fan" of Erdogan.
Indeed, it was just last fall when Trump cleared the way for a Turkish military offensive against our Kurdish allies, having reached a "deal" with Turkey in which Erdogan got everything he wanted, including gushing praise from the American president.
But there was just one other nagging detail that stood out for me: why didn't Team Trump edit this out? The video that aired during the convention last night wasn't live; it was filmed and then added to the party's broadcast.
Neither the president nor any of his aides thought it might not be wise to show a clip of Trump praising Erdogan to an American pastor who was unjustly imprisoned by Erdogan?