If you haven’t seen video of Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greeting each other at the G-20 summit, take a moment to do so. I’ll wait. (USA Today: tinyurl.com/2creepy4words)
There. If you weren’t disgusted, you might be a Trumpist. Because only the fully Trumpified can watch those bros slapping hands, grinning like a couple of guys who’ve gotten away with murder, which they have, without recognizing what’s going on. Two crime lords who know they’ve pocketed the “President” of the United States like a used handkerchief. “Nice one,” Putin says. “And Donald stick up.” MBS chortles, “He has always been for sale cheap.”
One comes to feel sorry for Trump’s diehards. With the latest revelations, his corruption is so obvious that it has to be painful to maintain the pretense. Surely, cracks are forming in their wall of denial, and the light making its way in must be blinding to those who’ve craved darkness for so long. Trump can’t even keep his lies straight. Almost within the same breath, he’s said he has no financial ties to Saudi Arabia and boasted that they’ve given him millions. Not mentioned, so far, is that on at least two occasions a certain Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bailed him out from imminent personal bankruptcy. But he knows we know.
For those to whom Trump’s profligate lying hadn’t been clear, the last couple of weeks should have been eye-opening. Having assured us for years that he had no dealings with Russia, a claim belied by the bragging of his own sons, he’s finally admitted — had no choice — that he’d been trying to erect a signature phallus in Moscow as recently as during the campaign. It’s cool, he said. No big deal. Other than lying to us all. And the planned gifting to Putin a $50 million penthouse. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution: tinyurl.com/easy2know)
But it is a big deal. To complete the arrangement, he’d have had to win the presidency and lift American sanctions on Russia, including those on the bank from whom financing was, illegally, being arranged: foreign policy in service of personal enrichment. It’s a big deal that Russia worked to accomplish exactly that; and that Trump immediately tried to get the sanctions lifted. It’s a big deal that, knowing the truth, Putin had Trump by the shorts. Saudis, the same. They could expose his lies at any time, and who can doubt there’s much more? Will his ties to the Russian mafia be exposed? Even his “incredible” deal with China was a lie. Wall Street fell for it, but only for a day. Wreckage ensued.
While Trumpists pretend he never lies, or excuse the constant effluent as Just-Trumpness or Not-Obamaness, the rest of us understand the implications for national security when a “president” lies about relations with, and is in hock to, hostile actors. Trump’s steadfast refusal to criticize Putin or Prince for their crimes becomes more understandable; and more inexcusable. As his former conspirators form a chorus line, unfamiliar sounds of truth are being heard. State TV, dba Fox “news,” along with all Trump enablers, pretends the lies and liars mean nothing. “Process crimes” they scoff, in unison, as if handed a script. “Who cares?”
We all should, including honorable Republicans, of which, one assumes, there remain some; and it shouldn’t require the work of a special prosecutor to open their eyes to the obvious.
As currently constituted, today’s Republican Party threatens America’s foundational values more than any terrorist organization, and it’s time for true conservatives — I know a few — to admit it and withhold their support. The rot is everywhere: from election fraud in North Carolina (by the GOP, not voters), to legislatures in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Ohio, following N.C.’s lead, aborting election results they don’t like; from silence on Trump’s lies; deference to polluters; acquiescence to grifters and deceivers in Trump’s cabinet (Zinke, Carson, DeVos, Ross, Pompeo, to name a few, more links on request); electing and empowering overt racists. Today’s Republican Party has come to stand for lying, science illiteracy, electoral cheating, voodoo economics, greedy oligarchy, crony-capitalism, white nationalism, hypocritical theocracy, and zero-sum politics. (Scientific American: tinyurl.com/zinke2oil) (Esquire: tinyurl.com/sum-zero) (ProPublica: tinyurl.com/all4cronies)
This un-American activity began when Reagan and George H.W. Bush, progenitors of Trump but putatively nicer, hired Lee Atwater. There followed Ailes, Gingrich, DeLay, Rove, McConnell, leading, inevitably, to Trump and Trumpism. To save our democracy, authentic conservatives need to join the fight, as once they would have. We liberals can’t do it alone.
Email Sid Schwab at firstname.lastname@example.org.