Russian President Vladimir Putin waves after a press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump, left, after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
I have to admit that yesterday, in the space of a few hours, I went from being appalled at the way President Trump allowed Vladimir Putin to make him his bitch in a press conference televised to the entire world to being gobsmacked at the craven dishonesty of his most ardent opponents.
As I mentioned yesterday, since the Soviet Union went belly-up, the Democrats have become very fond of accusing their political opponents of treason. This, I thought, had peaked during the Obama administration when the NY Daily News ran a front page accusing Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Tom Cotton, and Ted Cruz of treason for opposing the Iran nuclear deal. None of that prepared sane people for yesterday. This is Jack Shafer of Politico reviewing the coverage:
New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow was among the first to apply the “T” word to the president in a prescient Monday piece titled “Trump, Treasonous Traitor,” which appeared just hours before the presser. “It was nothing short of treasonous,” former CIA Director John Brennan tweetedof Trump’s press conference performance. “I’m so sorry the Commander-in-chief is a traitor,” tweeted Michael Moore, agreeing with Brennan for the first time ever. Tea Party stalwart Joe Walsh said the same. “Trump the Traitor,” read the headline on Boston Globe columnist Michael A. Cohen’s Monday afternoon piece. He concluded, “Trump is a clear and present danger to US national security.”
Other voices from both parties concurred without actually using the T-word. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) called Trump’s kowtowing to Putin “shameful.” In a statement, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Trump had “abased himself … abjectly before a tyrant.” “Disgraceful,” wrote Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “Shameful,” wrote Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). “Indefensible,” wrote former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power. “Useful idiot,” wrote journalist David Corn. “Disgraceful,” reiterated CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. “Dangerous and reckless,” wrote Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.). “Donald Trump is either an asset of Russian intelligence or really enjoys playing one on TV,” wrote New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. American academic and diplomat Eliot A. Cohen added this on Twitter, “The word treason is so strong that we must use it carefully. But that press conference has brought the President of the United States right up to that dark, dark shore.”
No matter how ill-conceived one might think Trump’s press conference was, there was nothing in it that comes within light-years of treason…assuming treason doesn’t mean “something Trump did that I don’t like.” Factually, we’re not at war with Russia and our relationship with Russia is no more hostile than our relationship with China. In fact, there is a much greater danger of a military clash between the US and China over Taiwan or Chinese encroachments in the South China Sea than there is with Russia. The juvenile internet trolling done by the Russians in 2016 is dwarfed by the similar actions of China. It was China that stole 21.5 million personnel records of federal employees including background investigations for security clearances while Russia spent $100,000 on Facebook ads. While China’s Xi may have better table manners than Putin, he is much more brutal in stamping out domestic opposition and forcibly repatriating troublesome exiles.
Though a self-beclowning may be difficult to watch, it is hard to see how Trump’s performance in Helsinki materially changed anything in the relationship between the US and Russia.
All of this goes to show that the loss of power, particularly in an election that looked like a “gimme,” has driven the Democrats absolutely insane. In fact, it has driven them to the point were entrusting them with any power would present a danger to the nation. And Trump has driven his opponents among self-proclaimed conservatives and Republicans to the point where there is nothing they won’t say or do if they think it hurts Trump.
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