You may have noticed by now, but I’m not one to pull any punches on Donald Trump. As a conservative, I see him as a statist abomination, a plump, be-wattled authoritarian-wannabe man-baby with the intellectual horsepower of a toaster oven.
One thing we’ve learned in the last two years is that no legal, moral, or cultural strictures bind Trump and that he is immune to the better angels of human nature. The moral event horizon around him consumes the good in anyone who becomes one of his vassals. There is no better version of Trump, ever. He can only degrade and destroy everything he touches, but Monday was remarkable, even for him.
Monday’s simpering, prissy, self-indulgent performance in Ohio was just another raree-show with our Kentucky Fried Nero fiddling while the stock market burned. Then came the moment where he broke another seal, and cracked another seam in the foundation of our Republic.
That was when Trump, in his typical sneering, sniggling, purse-lipped way said of the Democrats watching his State of the Union speech: “They were like death. And un-American. Un-American. Somebody said ‘treasonous.’ I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”
Even for Trump, on an endless quest to define American decency down, this was a new low. His followers and congressional cheering section will love it, of course. A few Republicans in Congress may furrow a brow or intone some anodyne statement like, “I wouldn’t have put it that way, but...”
Trump lacks the mental capacity to see where this very slippery slope leads, but the political arsonists around him do. With that, prepare to reap the whirlwind.
Our Founders viewed treason as the most severe crime against the Republic. Treason was an act without shades of gray, without gradiations, without rationalization. It is the one crime we punish by stripping those found guilty of it of their citizenship, or even their lives.
Trump on Monday decided he would be the arbiter of what constitutes treason in America. He’s mainstreamed the t-word.
Well, then: If you’re looking for someone who is betraying this nation, look for a person who would deliberately and systematically wreck the institutions that guarantee the separation of powers and the accountability of the Executive and Legislative Branches. Look for a person who would suborn the rule of law to protect himself, his family, and his cronies from justice.
If you’re looking for someone in the act of betraying the glorious vision of our Founders and our Constitution, look no further than the vulgar, prancing, reality-show clown who holds the presidency.
Look no further than the man who swore to uphold the Constitution and obey the laws of this land, yet ignores them, and attacks those who would carry them out.
We have had presidents in living memory who failed, who strayed from the righteous path, who were venal or paranoid or who fell victim to their lusts and weaknesses. But none came so close to treason as this president.
We can remember men of both parties who no one could even imagine betraying this nation to a hostile foreign power. Not this man. We don’t need to imagine it. We can see it.
Set aside the abundant evidence of Trump’s campaign connections to the Russians, and his long history of business relationships with people such as Felix Sater, Aras Agalarov, Tevfik Arif, and a host of others tied to Vladimir Putin’s kleptocracy. Ignore for a moment that Robert Mueller has arrested four senior Trump advisers and is stacking other officials like cordwood.
Just look at his post-election behavior toward Russia, because if we’re going to play tag-the-traitor, let’s get to it. Trump’s abject, boot-licking obedience to Russia and Putin speaks for itself.
If it is treason you seek, look no further than a man who gladly allows Russia’s continued attacks on our democracy, our Republic, and our institutions. Putin’s implacable hostility, aggression, and desire to divide and disrupt this nation are not in question by anyone except Trump and his most slavish sycophants. Putin’s desire to weaken our standing, diminish our power, and to harm our interests in the world is stated Russian policy, not speculations in the fevered minds of Never Trumpers.
When Congress sent Trump veto-proof legislation demanding he impose sanctions on Russia, Comrade Don waited until the last second to impose, well, nothing. When Putin arrested campaign opponent Alexei Navalny on phony charges, Vlad’s errand boy in the Oval Office remained silent.
For some reason, this president seems determined to demonstrate that he will do anything, at any time, to please the Russian authoritarian. He will tear down the United States government around him to hide from accountability. He will wreck alliances, compromise intelligence sources, and endanger our troops to please Putin. There’s a word for that.
There is always a reckoning for treason. There is always a moment where justice and history strip away the excuses and rationalizations, and the betrayer is held to account.
One thing Donald Trump should have considered before launching Monday’s attack was just how vulnerable he is to the same accusation, and that reckoning.