Trump, the Russian agent, and the left-wing Birchers
I take second place to no one in my disdain for this president. But a Russian agent? Really?
Since the New York Times "broke" the story that Trump's former campaign manager gave polling data to the Russians...or someone...the hysteria about Donald Trump, Russian agent, has reached a fever pitch.
Never mind that the N.Y. Times was forced to retract the major accusation against the president – that the polling data was given to Russians. Instead, it was discovered that the polling data was given to "pro-Russian" Ukrainians.
As we all know, anyone and everyone who is "pro-Russian" works directly for Vladimir Putin. So Trump has to be a Russian agent.
Next up, the Times broke the shocking story that the FBI actually opened an investigation into a sitting president to determine if he was in Putin's pocket.
Just to be clear, a bunch of FBI officials who had demonstrated the most shocking bias against an individual politician brainstormed the notion that maybe Trump was a Russian agent, and his firing of the incompetent boob FBI director James Comey may have been the result of Trump following orders from the Kremlin.
They debated a range of possibilities, according to portions of transcripts of two FBI officials' closed-door congressional interviews obtained by CNN. On one end was the idea that Trump fired Comey at the behest of Russia. On the other was the possibility that Trump didn't have an improper relationship with the Kremlin and was acting within the bounds of his executive authority, the transcripts show.
James Baker, then-FBI general counsel, said the FBI officials were contemplating with regard to Russia whether Trump was "acting at the behest of and somehow following directions, somehow executing their will."
"That was one extreme. The other extreme is that the President is completely innocent, and we discussed that too," Baker told House investigators last year. "There's a range of things this could possibly be. We need to investigate, because we don't know whether, you know, the worst-case scenario is possibly true or the President is totally innocent and we need to get this thing over with – and so he can move forward with his agenda."
The Washington Post ginned up the hysteria when it reported the president kept his private notes on a meeting with Vladimir Putin from the rest of his national security team.
Trump, whose administration leaks like a sieve, is a Russian agent because he didn't want anyone to see how he sold out America in his meeting with the Russian president. Or maybe he didn't want his private conversations with a foreign leader blasted all over the front pages of American newspapers.
This has led to some of the most extraordinary speculation in American history by people not generally seen as paranoid goofballs. Except they are.
A USA Today headline blares out, "All signs point the same way: Vladimir Putin has compromising information on Donald Trump."
Strobe Talbot, an old foreign policy hand from the Clinton days, says in Politico, "It's already collusion":
Future historians will have a serious handicap when the archives of this administration's foreign policy are opened years from now since so much of the normal process for conducting American diplomacy has been subverted or eliminated. But we already know that that the Kremlin helped put Trump into the White House and played him for a sucker.
Or put it this way: Trump has been colluding with a hostile Russia throughout his presidency. We'll see if it started before that.
What has happened to make these seemingly rational, reasonable people lose their minds and become paranoid John Birch leftists?
They have simply been caught up in the hysteria, much like right-wing nuts in the past who saw commies under every bed and behind every public figure. That was silly then. And it's silly now to posit the notion that the nation's president is knowingly – or even unknowingly – acting on behalf of a foreign enemy.
Trump's critics are all mind-readers. They are blessed with an insight into the president's thoughts denied to the rest of us. They are also able to peer into Trump's soul to see that he is, indeed, a traitor.
I envy them. If I could read minds like that, I'd become a stock-touter and make a gazillion dollars. Instead, I'm stuck with being a poor, starving scribbler who remains absolutely astonished at the turn that the media coverage of the president has taken.