Let’s strip away all the noise and make this as simple as possible.
Let’s say the heart of the matter is true. Let's say the quid pro quo really happened. Let’s say back in 2016, Russia and Candidate Trump came to the following understanding. Russia will hack and hamper Hillary and the Democrats. Trump, in turn, if elected, will ease US sanctions against Russia, and/or back off future Russian incursions in Ukraine.
Let's say it really happened.
Let's further say that we prove it: that some modern-day Woodward & Bernstein finds his Deep Throat, and we get this story cold.
Here's my concern.
What if this is all deemed to be OK?
I woke up this morning with a fear in the pit of my stomach that all of this - even the deepest, darkest, as-yet-unproven-but-increasingly-plausible heart of the matter - is spinnable to the positive, by Trump, Bannon, McConnell, and Ryan.
Sure it happened. So what? The alternative was crooked Hillary! And wouldn’t we rather join forces with Russia against our true enemy, ISIS? Is this country prepared to finally man up and do whatever it takes to get tough on radical islamic terrorism, or what? Are you with us or against us?
I am no longer of the opinion that such a position would be morally untenable to the Republican leadership in Congress. With these people, morality is besides the point. Like Ford executives selling exploding Pintos in the 1970's, their only concern is the math.
Can I sell this line of thinking to enough of my constituents?
Or will they primary my ass off the Hill?
What do you think, friends? Our country elected Donald Trump. What percentage of our electorate will swallow the above line of thinking? The people outside of our echo chamber; the millions of people utterly out of reach of the Washington Post, the New York Times, even non-Fox network news?
Trump's inner circle is embroiled in chaos right now. He is thinking about his next move - the move that can get him out in front of this. What’s his “locker room talk” response to this Russian story that can get him back on offense?
As i see it, it’s exactly what I wrote in italics, above. Shit, maybe it’s a joint press conference with Putin. Maybe it’s the announcement of a new alliance with Russia - a new world order. "The United States and Russia, reunited at last against our greatest common enemy since Hitler: radical islamic terrorism." Feels about as Bannon-Miller as it gets.
Trump looks like he's backed into a corner now. But don’t ever forget that he is psychologically incapable of feeling shame, even when confronted with evidence of an action that would have shamed and deposed just about any other public official in US history.
What have we seen him do, when cornered, time and time again? He dons his lack of shame like a suit of armor, and charges, painting any and all who oppose him with the binary brush of treason.
He will brand those of us wary of Russia as appeasers of Islamic terrorism. There is only one way to truly eradicate radical Islamic terrorism, he will say - in an alliance with Russia.
Please tell me I'm wrong, friends.
Please tell me that there exists a firewall of morality, somewhere, anywhere, with the strength, courage, and resources to keep us out of Steve Bannon's holy war. Because I am seriously afraid that it is not on Capitol Hill.
[To have future blog posts emailed to you directly, subscribe below.]