Why Trump’s Elephant Trophy Policy Is all About Hillary

Do you remember last year when the killing of Cecil the lion became a gigantic meme on social media? Even a lot of my conservative friends on Facebook were outraged. It has often struck me that cruelty to animals might be the one thing that crosses the boundaries in our polarized political climate. Perhaps that is because, unlike humans, it is impossible to demonize animals as the “other.”

That’s why I wonder if the Trump administration made a big mistake when they decided to do this:

The Trump administration plans to allow hunters to bring trophies of elephants they killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia back to the United States, reversing a ban put in place by the Obama administration in 2014, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official confirmed for ABC News today.

Their rationale for this is beyond ridiculous.

“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson said in a statement.

So allowing the practice that has caused elephants in Africa to be put on the Endangered Species list will somehow protect them? What utter nonsense!

There’s also the fact that they are making this announcement during the middle of a military coup in Zimbabwe.

“Corruption was already a huge concern in Zimbabwe, and it’s shocking that Zinke is lifting the trophy ban during a military coup,” she said. “With tanks in the streets, whoever is actually running the Zimbabwe government just can’t be trusted to protect elephants from slaughter by poachers.”

Some might suggest that it is useless to shout, “WTF are they thinking?” because, for this administration, doing stupid stuff is a feature, not a bug. Others are saying that it probably comes from Don, Jr., who is an avowed big game hunter. Prior to the election, he had been open about his desire to work in the Department of Interior if his father won. However, if he is actually the person that prompted this move, it is further proof that the “not-so-blind trust,” in which Trump’s sons were going to exclude political involvement in order to run the family business, is an utter sham.

But there is another possible explanation for why the Trump administration would overturn a policy that was designed to protect elephants from possible extinction. Not many people are aware of the fact that as Secretary of State as well as in subsequent years, Hillary Clinton made the preservation of elephants in Africa a major issue.

Clinton’s affinity for elephants is not widely known or reported. But during her tenure as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration, she helped bring the issue of global wildlife trafficking out of obscurity.

There was also this announcement in September 2013 at the Clinton Global Initiative:

Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a new global effort Thursday to protect Africa’s wild elephants from poaching, part of a long-running personal crusade for the former secretary of state…

“Unless the killing stops, African forest elephants are expected to be extinct within 10 years,” Clinton said. “I can’t even grasp what a great disaster this is ecologically, but also for anyone who shares this planet to lose a magnificent creature like the African forest elephant seems like such a rebuke to our own values.”

For Hillary, this is actually personal.

When asked by Ellen DeGeneres what her spirit animal is, Hillary Clinton had a surprising answer: the elephant.

Although the symbol of the GOP, Clinton spoke on the Ellen DeGeneres Show this May with rare passion about the need to protect real elephants from a poaching crisis that has killed at least 110,000 of them over the past decade, pushing the world’s largest land animals – especially forest elephants – closer to extinction.

“I love the way…the matriarch of the family looks out for everybody, I just have such a sense of connection to elephants and it just breaks my heart that they are being poached and murdered and babies being left to fend for themselves,” Clinton said on a portion of the show that only aired on Facebook.

If we have learned nothing else about Donald Trump, it is that he is primarily motivated by attempts to elevate himself and take revenge against people he considers to be his enemies. Even though she is simply private citizen Hillary Clinton now, he can’t let go. And while he’s at it, this action provides another opportunity for Trump to take a swipe and Barack Obama’s legacy…a twofer.

UPDATE: Friday evening Trump announced a reversal of this policy via twitter.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .