Andrew Sullivan gets to the heart of the Russia scandal in New York Magazine: when will Republicans put the good of our country before the political interests of their party?
My mind keeps traveling back to that moment in the second presidential debate when both candidates were asked what they admired about each other. I have to say, sitting at home, the question stumped me. I guess in a pinch I could say I admired Clinton’s tenacity, doggedness, and ambition. They’re all good qualities in a politician. But Trump? Racked my brain. Has he done a single redeeming thing in his entire life? None that I could find in any biographies or news reports. Clinton’s answer — that she admired his kids — was a good try, but also manifestly untrue. Trump’s kids seem to me to have close to no moral compass, are utterly absorbed into the family cult, and follow the same truth-churning, money-grubbing, corner-cutting, ethics-free recklessness of their father. They’re a walking argument for a hike in the estate tax.
Which brings me to Don Jr. Regular readers will know I’ve been determinedly agnostic about the whole Russia-collusion subplot. Now I agree with David French, one of the less tribal writers at National Review: “If you had told me last week that there existed an e-mail chain where a Trump contact explicitly tried to set up a meeting between a purported Russian official and the Trump senior team to facilitate official Russian efforts to beat Clinton, I’d have thought you’d been spending too much time in the deranged corners of Twitter.” And yet here we are.
These are the words that will resonate for quite a while, typed just 17 minutes after Don Jr. was told the Clinton dirt was coming from the Kremlin: “If it’s what you say I love it.” If you’d been tasked with inventing an email chain proving an intent to “collude” with a hostile foreign government, could you have come up with something as water-tight as Don Jr.’s? I don’t mean actual collusion; I mean intent.
This is not about being dumb. It’s not about being ruthless. It’s not about oppo research. It’s not even about dirty tricks. This is about a very basic level of patriotism. It’s about a deep question of how you were brought up and what your values are. And Trump values are foul. Yesterday, as if to prove the point, the paterfamilias revealed his own view of a case in which a foreign despot offered his campaign dirt on his opponent: “If you got a call and said, ‘Listen I have information on Hillary and the DNC,’ or whatever it was they said, most people are going to take that meeting, I think.” Even when it’s coming from a foreign enemy. And so we learn one more time: If it ever comes to a choice between Trump and America, Trump will pick Trump.
There is a reason the Founders made the presidency — alone of all the offices of state — reserved for a natural-born American. There’s a reason every new citizen must swear this oath: “I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.” The Founders were deeply worried that the republic could be corrupted by foreign influence, money, or power. No office was more critical in this than that of commander-in-chief. And it was in part for this exact contingency that impeachment was included in the Constitution.
No crime need be committed. The question is whether we can trust this president to put the interests of the U.S. before himself or a foreign enemy — or some horribly compromised combination of the last two. If there is any doubt about this, the doubt has to be removed. That is what impeachment was invented for. It is to remove an unfit person who has proven himself willing and able to abuse the power entrusted to him.
And so we begin to get the answer to a particularly pointed question: How much do Republicans actually love their country? And when exactly will they prove it?
Cross-posted from The Sensible Center
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