Duterte and Trump may have more than one thing in Common. They are both loudmouths. They gain headlines by insulting whole groups. Whether Trump accepts the Duterte doctrine of killing those he deems the scum of the earth, I do not know. But it is clear that his willingness to embrace the Philippines' dictatorial but democratically-elected president is a signal that the two have more in common than not.

Bad democracy

Duterte would probably be unknown to the vast majority of Americans who have been fed on the know-nothing nationalism of the president.

He is a noxious force, all the worse for giving democracy not merely a black eye but possibly a death blow, as he slaughters alleged criminals with impunity. Trump loves to wade into minefields at a safe distance. He is a coward when it comes to mosquitos. But to wine and dine Duterte? No problem.

Alt-right deconstruction

This is Steve Bannon deconstruction in living Trump color. We have a democracy that Americans died to create. Now it is being devalued in 100 ways. Trump's assault is so prolific that it requires incessant monitoring just to keep up with the worst offenses.

The White House says Trump's invitation to Duterte stresses “the importance of the United States-Philippine alliance, which is now headed in a very positive direction.” That is a dog whistle to all who profane the term populism by claiming it for nativist right wing forces.

It is also a stark warning to any who harbor the belief that Trump is just exaggerating when he implies violence, goes after judges and essentially endorses criminality if it suits him.

Duterte sorts

As the New York Times points out Trump's best friends are Duterte types, repressive deniers of human rights whether in Russia, China or Egypt.

He has no conspicuous affection for democratic leaders. We should not forget Turkey whose leadership is increasingly repressive.

Chilling possibility

All told Duterte has blood on his hands and seems proud of it. He is popular. He has endorsed and brought about the deaths of thousands including many who have no remote connection to any crimes.

The suspension of conventional rights is chilling when you consider that in the US the president is now seeking to penalize states that will not make immigration enforcers out of their police forces. How close is the time when killing with impunity will not be an acceptable practice in America, supported by a national judiciary bought and paid for by the Federalist Society, Neil Gorsuch's sponsors.