At least we know Donald Trump is not a Manchurian Candidate. His proclivities for U.S. enemies are exuberantly open, naively uninformed and boldly anti-American.
Trump is, as conservative columnist George Will wrote after the jaw-dropping Vladimir-Putin-victory-in-Helsinki summit, “this sad, embarrassing wreck of a man.”
And that was before Trump tried to “walk back” his insistence that he believed Putin’s denial of interference in U.S. elections over the unanimous finding by 17 American intelligence services that Russia attacked us to try to undermine our democracy. Trump had refused to agree with those services that Russia is hostile to us, waging a modern, dangerous and potentially debilitating cyber war.
Trump said in Helsinki he couldn’t think why Russia would interfere in U.S. elections. A full day later he said he meant to say “wouldn’t.” A double negative if there ever was one.
Oh, what chaos we create when we simply forget that “not.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Trump’s shockingly sycophantic performance in Helsinki “was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
Republicans, Democrats, independents - much of Washington now agrees that Putin has “something on” Trump. We hope Robert Mueller’s investigation will reveal what it is.
Probably something to do with debt, because Trump the businessman had to go abroad to get loans; American banks refused to lend to him because he was a dreadful risk. Americans who continue to insist Trump was a great businessman are just wrong. He repeatedly filed bankruptcy, refused to pay contractors, benefited from the work of immigrants and did not pay debts. If he had invested inherited money, he would be much wealthier than he is today.
But we digress. Trump refused to let anyone but a translator in the room when he met for two hours with Putin and his translator in Finland. (As in, he sold us down the river in Helsinki. In the 24 hours after Trump’s enthusiastic embrace of Putin in Helsinki, the words “traitor” or “treason” were used 2 million times on Twitter, including by an ex CIA director.) At best, Trump is weak, easily duped and incompetent.
But surely you have seen or read enough spy thrillers to know that the Russians know every word Trump uttered in the summit for which no reason was ever given. Trump still says nothing about Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, its continuing harassment of Ukraine, assassination of purported enemies, etc. One of Trump’s first actions in office was to try to lift sanctions on Russia adopted after it invaded Crimea. Did the Trump campaign promise the end of sanctions? We don’t know. Not yet.
Even Republicans say they won’t be surprised if in the crucial November mid-term elections, when one third of the Senate and the entire House are up for grabs, Russians are able to flip votes, change voter registrations and determine the course of the election.
We must make no mistake: Russia wants Trump to remain in full control of the country. Putin said he wanted Trump to win. He will continue to control Trump. And Trump will continue to look out for himself first, continuing to alienate U.S. allies. Our election system continues to be dangerously vulnerable to Russian hackers, even the 12 under indictment.
But while ignoring Russia’s cyber war against us, Trump is merrily going ahead with his trade wars that are beginning to burn U.S. consumers. Imported products cost us more. Farmers who grow soybeans, apples and corn or raise hogs are staggered at how rapidly prices have fallen while their costs have grown. Trade wars are so easy, Trump trumpeted.
It’s understandable that supporters of Trump do not want to admit they have been wrong. Certainly, Trump never admits his many errors; at the most, he just says he was misunderstood.
Admitting having been wrong is painful. If you hoped Trump would be a good president, you don’t have to admit you were wrong. Just don’t continue to support him because, really, he hasn’t done anything for you. That tax cut won’t continue unless you’re rich, and it added $1.5 trillion to the deficit. (Trump loves other people’s money.)
This is not about “resetting” relations with Russia. This is about defending America, protecting America and making America impervious to outright attacks.
I wouldn’t say that if it weren’t true.
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.