What a tremendous burden it must be for you to still be defending President Trump. You have called yourself a constitutional conservative for decades, but now you sit silently as the president pushes to move this year’s election because he might lose. Even some Republican senators are speaking up. Why aren’t you?
Trump remembers how you ran interference for him when he claimed unlimited powers under Article II of the Constitution, so he thinks you will stay quiet. Remember your silence after Charlottesville? You eventually mustered the nerve to claim Trump never preached moral equivalence between torch-carrying Nazis and protesters. How unthoughtful it was of David Duke to expose you by praising the president’s putrid performance and thanking Trump for his “honesty and courage to tell the truth.” The former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard even bragged to reporters that Charlottesville represented a “turning point” for white nationalism. “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump,” Duke proclaimed. “That’s why we voted for [him].”
Ouch. That one had to sting, but you kept on defending Donald.
If you had a political soul after that shameful stunt, the Cold Warrior in you would have been as sickened by Trump’s retreat from Germany as U.S. strategists were over his ceding of Syria to Vladimir Putin, handing Moscow a foothold in the Middle East for the first time since 1973. No country was a closer ally during the Cold War than West Germany, and no nation is more critical to Europe’s future now than a unified Germany. Undermining the U.S.-German alliance because of an ignorant misunderstanding of NATO’s dues structure undermines the historic work that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush completed throughout the Cold War’s final years.
But there you are, silently supporting a demagogue who sits by while intelligence suggests Russia’s leader put bounties on the heads of young American troops. Trump instead plays Putin’s apologist by declaring the United States equally guilty.
“Well, we supplied weapons when they were fighting Russia, too,” Trump said of our efforts to liberate Afghanistan from the Soviet invasion some 40 years ago.
Did any part of you cringe when Trump leaned once again on the crutch of moral equivalency, ignoring the glaring fact that the U.S.S.R. was America’s sworn enemy during our “twilight struggle” against communism? Maybe not. Maybe Trump has you figured out and knows what a frightened political soul you are, and remembers that you remained mute when he defended Putin’s killing of journalists and political rivals almost five years ago. “Our country does plenty of killing also,” candidate Trump told me when I repeatedly pressed him on “Morning Joe” to criticize Putin’s murderous ways. He wouldn’t then when the victims were Russian reporters, and he won’t now when the targets are young American heroes in uniform.
I know Trump’s devotion to Putin deeply disturbs you, but somehow you swallow that bile and keep running cover for them both. How hard it must have been to keep all of that down when Trump’s foreign policy adviser, national security adviser, campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, personal lawyer, political consultant and attorney general were all busted for lying to federal investigators or Congress about their contacts with Russians. But you still kept your head down and marched in a single formation behind Trump.
When it was revealed that Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign was “sweeping and systematic,” you shrugged your shoulders. You later learned that Russian nationals with connections to the Kremlin promised Trump’s family dirt on Hillary Clinton, and that they were excited to learn it was part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” You remained motionless, numb to it all, when federal investigators later revealed that Russia’s GRU began hacking Clinton-related email accounts hours after Trump announced this: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
By this time, you began mindlessly regurgitating the former reality TV host’s propaganda about the “Russian hoax,” and hoped Americans would be stupid enough to ignore the mountains of damning evidence against Trump. Your singular focus turned to the Steele dossier’s most lurid tales, and you believed then, and now, that Christopher Steele’s fantastical claims could erase a multitude of Trump’s sins. You repeated the lies of Attorney General William P. Barr and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey O. Graham when they falsely claimed the FBI’s investigation began with Steele’s dossier. And you kept repeating this idiotic defense even after it became painfully evident that Trump’s team welcomed Russia’s interference in American democracy and then tried to cover it up. You still refuse to criticize the Trump team’s use of material stolen by Russia during the last month of the campaign, just like you and your president continue turning a blind eye to any Russian bounties.
None dare call it treason, but perhaps one day they will.