• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Lying Donald Trump’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Trump Twitter

Joe Scarborough has pithily summed up the effects of yesterday’s testimony by FBI Director Jim Comey dismissing President Trump’s repeated bizarre claims that the Obama administration “tapped” his phones:

I had said Friday was the worst day of Donald Trump’s presidency. I was wrong. It is today.

David Leonhardt is even sharper in this lede:

The ninth week of Donald Trump’s presidency began with the F.B.I. director calling him a liar.

He continues:

The director, the very complicated James Comey, didn’t use the L-word in his congressional testimony Monday. Comey serves at the pleasure of the president, after all. But his meaning was clear as could be. Trump has repeatedly accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones, and Comey explained there is “no information that supports” the claim.

I’ve previously argued that not every untruth deserves to be branded with the L-word, because it implies intent and somebody can state an untruth without doing so knowingly. George W. Bush didn’t lie when he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and Obama didn’t lie when he said people who liked their current health insurance could keep it. They made careless statements that proved false (and they deserved much of the criticism they got).

But the current president of the United States lies. He lies in ways that no American politician ever has before. He has lied about — among many other things — Obama’s birthplace, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Sept. 11, the Iraq War, ISIS, NATO, military veterans, Mexican immigrants, Muslim immigrants, anti-Semitic attacks, the unemployment rate, the murder rate, the Electoral College, voter fraud and his groping of women.

He tells so many untruths that it’s time to leave behind the textual parsing over which are unwitting and which are deliberate — as well as the condescending notion that most of Trump’s supporters enjoy his lies.

Trump sets out to deceive people. As he has put it, “I play to people’s fantasies.”

Caveat emptor: When Donald Trump says something happened, it should not change anyone’s estimation of whether the event actually happened. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. His claim doesn’t change the odds.

Which brings us to Russia.

Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign was an attack on the United States. It’s the kind of national-security matter that a president and members of Congress swear to treat with utmost seriousness when they take the oath of office. Yet now it has become the subject of an escalating series of lies by the president and the people who work for him.

Leonhardt’s colleagues, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, are on the other side of the opinion wall and thus bound by tighter constraints. That makes the vociferousness of their report even more damning:

President Trump began Monday as he has started so many other presidential mornings — by unleashing a blistering Twitter attack on critics who suggested his 2016 campaign colluded with the Russians.

By the afternoon the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, had systematically demolished his arguments in a remarkable public takedown of a sitting president. Even a close ally of Mr. Trump, Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and the House Intelligence Committee chairman, conceded that “a gray cloud” of suspicion now hung over the White House by the end of the day’s hearings.

The testimony of Mr. Comey and that of Adm. Michael S. Rogers, his National Security Agency counterpart, will most likely enervate and distract Mr. Trump’s administration for weeks, if not longer, overshadowing good news, like the impressive debut of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, his Supreme Court nominee, on the first day of his confirmation hearings Monday.

But it’s the obsessiveness and ferocity of Mr. Trump’s pushback against the Russian allegations, often untethered from fact or tact, that is making an uncertain situation worse.

Thus far, the only one to lose a job over any of this is Fox News bloviator Andrew Napolitano. He surely won’t be the last.

Most Congressional Republicans are standing by Trump and company at the moment, gamely trying to make the focus of yesterday’s hearings the press leaks that have exposed the Russia connections rather than the connections themselves. That gambit will fail.

I haven’t the slightest idea how much collusion between Trump’s campaign staff and the Russian government took place, how high up it went, or the extent to which it impacted the election. It’s quite possible we’ll never know. And I’d judge it probable that there won’t be enough evidence to convince a majority-Republican House to impeach the president.

The bigger issue may well be the one Leonhardt has highlighted: the president’s constant lies about matters big and small. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans argued that Al Gore was unfit for the office because of his penchant for serial exaggeration about his role in trivial matters. Rather clearly, Trump’s dishonesty is orders of magnitude worse.

Moreover, given the fact that most of the lies are not only easily debunked but serve no obvious strategic purpose, it’s become increasingly reasonable to wonder about the president’s mental health. It may well be that the 25th Amendment, not the impeachment clause, will be his undoing. In both cases, the primary obstacle is the fecklessness of those with the power to act.

Related Posts:

  • None Found

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    It’s highly unlikely the Trump administration’s Russian connections will end with election sabotage. Why did Trump,feel comfortable asking for Russian help in the first place? Josh Marshall has done a good job of cataloging Trumps long time business associations with Russian mobsters and other eastern block criminals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. MarkedMan says:

    Here’s a link to a Josh Marshall piece that summarizes Trump’s sleazy Russian connections.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. HarvardLaw92 says:

    The 25A is, at best, a temporary solution. Getting rid of this clown for good via that route still requires the same 2/3rds majority vote in the Senate that impeachment does.

    So, for the time being anyway, we’re stuck with the Liar in Chief – at least if / until those GOP bottom feeders in Congress start viewing him as a threat to their own reelection campaigns anyway (which is legitimately the only thing they truly care about).

    Truthfully, on some level, I can’t help but hope that this sideshow continues. It will fracture the Republican Party even further (it is already doing so) and may end up being the funeral pyre on which the party as it currently exists immolates itself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. James Joyner says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I don’t have much confidence that either route will happen soon. But I don’t see how we sustain four years of this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Joyner:

    The test is going to be the 2018 midterms. These nimrods either damage the GOP brand enough to facilitate material changes in the party allocation of Congressional power via the electoral booth, or they don’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Lit3Bolt says:

    The Russian story is not really surprising. The modern Republican party that emerged from Nixon was founded on the principles of money, racism, and treason. Collusion with America’s enemies to win elections is SOP.

    I expect Trump and Tillerson to negotiate a “trade deal” with Russia and drop sanctions soon. Manafort or Page or Flynn will be the token sacrifice to the FBI, and they’ll just brazen through the obvious corruption. The usual suspects will be back with new Frank Luntz talking points about “whiny Dems” and “Clinton talked to Russians too” that they’ll parrot endlessly, because all they care about is having their racist erogenous zones tickled by an actor playing a President.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Jen says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The test is going to be the 2018 midterms. These nimrods either damage the GOP brand enough to facilitate material changes in the party allocation of Congressional power via the electoral booth, or they don’t.

    The Republican Party control of state legislatures allowed for such a high level of partisan gerrymandering, I’m concerned that even a massive Democratic turnout (unlikely in midterms) coupled with depressed Republican turnout (also unlikely in midterms) wouldn’t result in the House changing hands. The Republican Senate seats that are up are fairly safe too. I could be wrong on this, but it is really mind-boggling to see how protected some of the Republican seats are.

    When the House switched from Democratic to Republican control in 1994, the seats weren’t nearly as safe on the Democratic side. Here’s hoping though, because I agree with James, this level of dysfunction on a daily basis cannot continue for four years.

    The level of mendacity with this crew in the White House is unreal. Sean Spicer has lost whatever shred of credibility he had left. “This president playing golf is different than Obama”–good grief.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    Impeachment won’t happen, maybe if the Dems control both houses, though the trial will fail to achieve 2/3. 25A won’t happen. Congress flipping? Probably not, one of the fantasies that liberals have that I wish they’d disabuse themselves of is that if only the Repugs are so outrageous, then Repug white, working class voters will see the error of their ways and begin voting Dem again. Congress flipping won’t happen either. Possibly the senate, but Dems need to defend 20-ish seats in 2018 and grab 3 Repug, tall order.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. @HarvardLaw92:

    The 25th Amendment is more difficult than impeachment for several reasons. First, you need VPOTUS and a majority of the cabinet to agree the President is unfit. Then, you need a 2/3 vote in both the House and the Senate (not just the Senate, see Section Four of the Amendment) to agree. The odds of either happening even if the Democrats gain full control of Congress in 2018, is exceedingly low. But then, so is impeachment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. @Jen:

    In addition to the factors you cite, there are two other reasons it’s unlikely that control of Congress will flip in 2018.

    First, there are very few “battleground” seat left in the House of Representatives at this point. To a significant degree this is due to Gerrymandering and Republican control of state legislatures, which will remain a factor at least through the 2020 elections if not longer.

    A second major factor is the death of the Blue Dog Democrat. Democrats in the South held on mostly due to the fact that there was a sizeable group of Democrats who had a generally conservative voting record, especially on fiscal issues. These Democrats have largely disappeared at the Congressional level thanks to both challenges from within their own party and the fact that they’ve been replaced by (even more conservative) Republicans. This makes it harder for Democrats to put together a majority in the House.

    Taking back the Senate is theoretically easier, but as you say its not likely. Absent retirements, the vast majority of Senators up for reelection in 2018 are Democrats. Of those, more than a half-dozen are running in states that typically go Republican in Presidential elections or states that Trump won in 2016. By contrast, there is only one Republican running in what is generally agreed to be a battleground state, Dean Heller in Nevada. The remainder of the handful of Republicans running are all in safely red states that are unlikely to go Democratic in a mid-term election.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Facebones says:

    The next time I hear a Republican try to lecture someone on the importantance of honesty, morality and integrity, my response will be a sober and dignified middle finger in their face.

    I suppose I should thank the Republicans for confirming every stereotype us liberals believed about them.

    (And why is it condescending to suggest Trump’s supporters enjoy his lies? Isn’t that why they voted for him? Because he spoke so bluntly and would bring back coal jobs?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    But I don’t see how we sustain four years of this.

    When he starts a war, simply to cover up for all this other crap, then it’s only going to escalate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Kylopod says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Additionally, attempting to remove a president through this method is far more unprecedented and far less intuitive than impeachment. It would be very questionable from a constitutional perspective and would set a precedent of its own where future presidents would be subject to challenges of their mental fitness as excuses to try to remove them. Remember, even trained psychiatrists like Charles Krauthammer and Keith Ablow accused Obama of mental problems. It was utter horsesh!t and an abuse of their positions, but it shows the lengths some people will go to justify their partisan point-scoring. (It is also insulting to the millions of people who suffer from actual mental illness.)

    I’ve written before about the possibility of Trump having NPD (though of course I’m far from qualified to hand out such a diagnosis), and I’ve also read speculation about him having some form of dementia. While I’m not saying these theories are wrong per se, in a way I think they miss the point and at bottom seem like attempts to put an intellectual spin on his obvious unfitness for office, which (to me) isn’t a matter of psychiatric labels.

    I’m reminded a little of the following exchange from the novel Silence of the Lambs, between Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter:

    “You can’t reduce me to a set of influences. You’ve given up good and evil for behaviorism…. Can you stand to say I’m evil? Am I evil, Officer Starling?”

    “I think you’ve been destructive. For me it’s the same thing.”

    “Evil’s just destructive? Then storms are destructive, if it’s that simple.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Moosebreath says:

    James,

    “Most Congressional Republicans are standing by Trump and company at the moment, gamely trying to make the focus of yesterday’s hearings the press leaks that have exposed the Russia connections rather than the connections themselves. That gambit will fail.”

    I think this is letting them off far too easily. It seems apparent that Congressional Republicans are willing to be complicit in just about anything (going far beyond constant lies to subverting our democracy to the benefit of a foreign government) coming out of the Oval Office so long as they get what they want in tax cuts for the rich, cutting entitlements, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Facebones:

    Isn’t that why they voted for him?

    No…they voted for him because he is honest, a straight shooter, who tells it like it is. And so many people, like James for instance, have been conned by decades of propaganda aimed at making Clinton look as bad as President Costanza really is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Let’s not lose sight that while this is going on Republicans are fixing pass the cruelest legislation in modern history and throw millions of old, poor, and sick people off insurance so that they can give a massive tax cut to the wealthy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Argon says:

    Note that about 36% of Trump supporters have no issues with his tweets, and about 16% of the population generally.

    That’s 1 in 6 people generally or 1 in 4 Republicans who think it’s a good thing. Sad!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. CSK says:

    The discussion here appears to be premised on the assumption that most Congressional Republicans want to keep Trump in office, and are reasonably content with him. Are you all sure that’s true?

    Why wouldn’t they leap at the chance to replace Trump with Pence? Pence is, after all, sane, or at least capable of acting so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Moosebreath says:

    @CSK:

    “Why wouldn’t they leap at the chance to replace Trump with Pence? Pence is, after all, sane, or at least capable of acting so.”

    Because the Trump true believers are at the very least a significant segment (if not a majority) of Republican primary voters. Throwing Trump out of office runs the risk that they would be primaried, which for many of them is a far likelier way for them to lose their seat than a general election.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    The discussion here appears to be premised on the assumption that most Congressional Republicans want to keep Trump in office

    Not at all. I’ve said it in other threads, and I’ll say it again: If Trump dropped dead of a stroke tomorrow, most Republican office-holders would be privately cheering. But they live in abject terror of the voters who helped put him into office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    You’re giving them too much credit. Wanting Trump removed or retained at this point would require them possessing a genuine level of concern about governance. They do not possess this.

    They’re effectively weather vanes, seeing which way the electoral winds are blowing (specifically with respect to how their reelections are affected) before they decide on a course of action.

    Rest assured that whatever course they eventually decide on will hinge entirely on what gets them votes, not on what is best for the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. CSK says:

    @Moosebreath: @Kylopod: @HarvardLaw92:

    Yes, I understand that the Congressional Republicans are terrified of alienating the Trumpkins. It’s a valid point, and one worth keeping in mind.

    But suppose Trump really does go completely off the deep end? (Not that he isn’t already mostly there.) Suppose he reneges completely on all the promises he made the Trumpkins?

    I say this fully aware that I’ve argued frequently that ardent Trumpkins will never be dissuaded. What I’m curious about is how long it will take that number to dwindle into relative insignificance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Moosebreath says:

    @CSK:

    “I say this fully aware that I’ve argued frequently that ardent Trumpkins will never be dissuaded. What I’m curious about is how long it will take that number to dwindle into relative insignificance.”

    It certainly hasn’t happened yet. It may not happen at all during Trump’s time in office. If you were a Congresscritter, would you risk your career on a guess that it has happened already?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. pylon says:

    I am doubtful it could ever happen but the most likely early exit for Trump is by his own hand. If the heat gets too high with various investigations and if that heat could affect his business interests I could see him removing himself to try and make it all go away.

    I think he got into this to make money. If he starts to lose money, he will abandon ship, just like his previous businesses.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Wow… Another day, another bombshell.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/new-documents-say-trump-aide-hid-payments-from-pro-moscow-ukraine-party/2017/03/21/92ec85f2-0e11-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html?utm_term=.f7d02c1337e2

    That’s quite a smoking gun. Being listed as receiving payments and laundering 12 million.

    Manaford is screwed

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Hal_10000 says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    he modern Republican party that emerged from Nixon was founded on the principles of money, racism, and treason.

    That’s what I like about the Left. So much reasonableness. So unwilling to demonize the opposition. So willing to engage on ideas rather than ad hominem. Yeah, I remember when the Republican Party wrote letters to Communist dictators undermining US foreign policy and …

    … oh, wait.

    The thing about Russia is you are again dealing with two realities. Democrats, sans much evidence, believe that Trump completely sold us out and cooperated with a foreign power to win the Presidency and committed treason. Republicans, by and large, believe these are the crazed rantings of a bunch of sore losers. I’m inclined to be somewhere in between: that Russia tried to help Trump win (or more accurately, wanted to damage Clinton) and maybe had some help from some Trump campaigners. But a lot of this is being driven by (justified) anger against Trump and the belief that he can’t really be President. It’s not quite birtherism, but it draws from the same impulses, an overwhelming need to delegitimize the President. Because, apparently, you can’t be a legitimate President *and* be a terrible one simultaneously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. CSK says:

    @pylon:

    You may well be right…but how would he reconcile bailing with his self-image of someone who always wins? It was possible for him to bankrupt four casinos and still call that a success, but this is a bit different. And it’s an action that would be performed on the world stage. Can you see him slinking off behind the curtains to the jeers of “Loser!”?

    I agree that he got into this as a branding exercise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. teve tory says:

    if you work out how many americans voted for trump, it’s almost exactly the Crazification Factor.

    but if you look at his popularity wth GOP voters, it’s as high as that for Reagan and Bush

    Long story short: republicans are dumb assholes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Pch101 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Birtherism is based upon the completely founded belief that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. (Apparently, Nairobi is a suburb of Honolulu.)

    In contrast, there is an abundance of evidence that Trump has business interests involving the Russians, a move motivated by his need for alternative funding sources following his string of bankruptcies.

    It is no secret that Manafort worked with the Russians against Ukraine.

    It is no secret that Flynn took Russian money.

    It is no secret that Trump openly encouraged Russian hacking during the campaign.

    Should anyone be surprised that a guy who benefits from relationships with wealthy Russians would tell those people what they want to hear, i.e. that the sanctions that target them could be lifted if he is elected? Could the quid pro quo of this be more obvious?

    I just can’t take conservatives seriously when they dare to compare a completely false position with another position that is not only true but well documented. It seems that it isn’t possible to be an American right winger without engaging in cherry picking and false equivalencies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Hal_10000 says:

    @Pch101:

    I didn’t say they were equivalent but that they draw from the same impulse. The reason Birtherism was embraced by a fraction of the right was because they didn’t want to believe that Obama was a legitimate President. It had nothing to do with facts (of which there were none). And the reason the Left is eager to embrace this “Trump committed treason!” line is because they don’t want to believe that Trump is a legitimate President. There might be facts that lend credence to that belief. It might even be correct; we’ll see. But that’s *not* the reason people are embracing the Trump-treason idea. As is so often the case in politics, the facts, while interesting, are irrelevant. What matters is delegitimizing that awful person in the White House. And I guarantee you that if this investigation turns up nothing (which I don’t think it will), we will still be hearing about this years from now.

    Remember something here. That grifter Jill Stein raked in $3 million from people who were convinced Russia had stolen the election based on … nothing, really. A computer scientist who didn’t understand demographics. Does this not cross you as a bit demented? Say what you want about conservatives, but they didn’t give $3 million to Orly Taitz to pursue her conspiracy theories.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. SenyorDave says:

    @CSK: I say this fully aware that I’ve argued frequently that ardent Trumpkins will never be dissuaded. What I’m curious about is how long it will take that number to dwindle into relative insignificance.

    Edwin Edwards famously said that “The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy”.

    Trump could get caught in bed with several live boys, a few dead donkeys, lying in a pool of urine from an underage prostitute, and not lose most of his support. He would tweet something about fake media, have KAC appear on Hannity and they would both agree that Obama or Clinton was behind it, and his supporters would eat it up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. EddieInCA says:

    Please remove my commment from Spam Filter. Thank you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Say what you want about conservatives, but they didn’t give $3 million to Orly Taitz to pursue her conspiracy theories.

    No, they just put the most famous person ever to embrace those theories into the White House.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. CSK says:

    @SenyorDave:

    At this point? Absolutely. The Trumpkins have the perfect response: Any criticism of Trump is fake news, invented by ABCCBSNBCCNNNPRNYTimesWaPo.

    I was speculating on the number of ardent Trumpkins who might finally one day wake up to how badly they’ve been used, abused, and conned. Probably not many.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Pch101 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I didn’t say they were equivalent but that they draw from the same impulse

    One position is accurate and is based upon facts.

    The other position is completely false and is motivated by racism.

    But sure, other than that slight difference, they’re exactly the same.

    Again, this is why I can’t take American conservatism seriously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Hal_10000 says:

    @Kylopod:

    A fair point. But Trump wasn’t running on birtherism. Stein *was* raising money exclusively on Russia conspiracy theories. I know a lot of Trump supporters (basically half my family). None are birthers. I also know a lot of Clinton supporters. And I knew at least a few Russia hacking conspiracy theorists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Hal_10000:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    the modern Republican party that emerged from Nixon was founded on the principles of money, racism, and treason.

    That’s what I like about the Left. So much reasonableness. So unwilling to demonize the opposition. So willing to engage on ideas rather than ad hominem.

    Spare me the pearl clutching.

    It’s not working here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @pylon:

    If he starts to lose money

    So you are saying the President will go bankrupt? Besides just morally?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. gVOR08 says:

    I’ve previously argued that not every untruth deserves to be branded with the L-word, because it implies intent and somebody can state an untruth without doing so knowingly. George W. Bush didn’t lie when he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction… – Leonhardt

    Sorry, but that pisses me off every time I see it. It. First, there was a great deal of lying going on around Iraqi weapons (Downing Street memo) and W knew it. Second, even if W was a complete naif and was misled by Cheney, it was Bush’s damn JOB to know for sure before he started a war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. SenyorDave says:

    @Hal_10000: I know a lot of Trump supporters (basically half my family). None are birthers.

    And they were willing to support Trump in spite of his birtherism? They voted for a candidate who supported a truly disgusting racist narrative that they knew was a lie. IMO that’s actually worse than being a birther. I would have to assume that they were completely okay with supporting an open racist for POTUS, which makes them a racist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    But Trump wasn’t running on birtherism.

    Um…. Birtherism was the entire basis of his entry into Republican presidential politics in 2011. That was the main issue he raised when he first flirted with running for the GOP nomination. Not Obamacare, not even trade, but birtherism. He didn’t end up entering the race that year, true, but he did spend most of that time leading the GOP field, just like he would go on to do when he finally did enter the race four years later.

    And while birtherism wasn’t the focus of his 2016 campaign, he never renounced it during the entire nomination period. Moreover, his campaign was still definitely about race. It’s just that he was no longer running against the first black president, so he moved on to other issues such as Mexican rapists and Muslim terrorists.

    What you seem not to get is that birtherism isn’t just a tribal partisan thing, but a reflection of the racial paranoia and resentment underlying much of the GOP rank-and-file, something which explains the rise of Donald Trump better than any other single factor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Democrats, sans much evidence, believe that Trump completely sold us out and cooperated with a foreign power to win the Presidency and committed treason.

    At this point I personally believe Trump is a useful idiot for Putin, and that Putin is a role model for Trump, who wants to use the presidency to enrich and empower himself. I’m sure you can find blog commenters and Facebook posters who have said Trump personally colluded with Putin. Can you cite national Dem pols and major opinion leaders who have said so? Everyone I read is suspending judgement. I mention of a charge that Trump and Putin actively colluded mostly from Rs trying to move the goalpost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Hal_10000:

    But Trump wasn’t running on birtherism.

    Now that is laughable.

    Trumps ONLY value to the GOP was his birtherism pursuits.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/birtherism-back-may-be-bad-news-trump-n618731

    He never apologized, nor admitted that the president is an American Citizen. Said Trump:

    “I don’t think it was a distraction. A lot of people love me for it. I got him to produce his so-called birth certificate, or whatever it was,” Trump boasted during a 2014 press conference. “You might say it is a distraction. I tell you, I have more fans and more followers, I have millions of people coming up to me on the street saying, ‘Don’t give that fight up.'”

    His Make America Great Again campaign reached out to white racist nationalists. His campaign stops called out to the racist, sexist and anti-Semitic.

    If he was running against Obama, he would have carried on with the worst of birtherism. But instead he accused Hillary of it, through a nice piece of projection.

    The difference here is that in emails, some Hillary staffers discussed if that would be a viable way to go after Obama in 2012… and they decided against it.

    Trump road the hate train all the way to the White House. And policies of hate seem to come out of that “victory”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000:
    @Lit3Bolt:said:

    The modern Republican party that emerged from Nixon was founded on the principles of money, racism, and treason.

    You objected to the incivility of saying this. You did not provide a case that it is not true. Have the Rs not been the party of establishment money? Have Rs not consistently employed Nixon’s Southern Strategy? Did Nixon and W not commit acts (Chennault Affair and blowing up the Middle East) that were hugely injurious to the U. S? Did Reagan not illegally trade weapons with Iran? (I’ll concede no treason convictions followed, but jeez.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. Argon says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I know a lot of Trump supporters (basically half my family).

    Our sympathies go out to you and the other half of your family.

    But seriously, I agree that willingness to embrace conspiracy theories is often driven by other factors. You can find such people anywhere (except for most of my family, thank God). I think the majority of people (I’m being optimistic, perhaps), aren’t willing to accept the notion of treason at this time. That remains to be determined. Unfortunately, it’s not completely out of the pale to be open to that possibility and there is certainly something strange about the connections of some surrounding Trump. Whether that rises to the level of criminal acts, I’m not sure, but there are certainly a number of serious conflicts of interest issues unique to this administration that I think demand exploration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  46. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK:

    but how would he reconcile bailing with his self-image of someone who always wins?

    The script for that has already been written by Sarah Palin when she got tired of being Governor and quit so as to make some real money without all those troublesome ethical rules. She did it because the Great State of Alaska… the scheming opposition grinding government to a… something, something, something… and, as a true Patriot and Real Alaskan she would do the most noblest and honorable thing ever!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @Hal_10000:

    But that’s *not* the reason people are embracing the Trump-treason idea. A

    Speak for yourself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  48. grumpy realist says:

    @Hal_10000: I don’t think that Trump has committed “treason”, mainly because I don’t think that Trump has the BRAINS to commit actual treason. He just thought he would try to rig the media yelling in his favor and made some dumb comment about Hillary. Putin, who hates Hillary like poison and suspected the bloody incompetence of Trump and how it would impact on the US system, sent his little armies of trolls and hackers and useful idiots out and voila, to his delight the American populace elected a total idiot who is incredibly easy to manipulate. He’s got the US political and media establishment totally gummed up in the tar-baby of Trump and Trump’s incessant need to create chaos and continually appear on TV screens.

    By the time we get unstuck from the tar-baby, the rest of the world will have moved on. Japan and Germany are talking trade treaties; ditto for China and Germany.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. I also fall into the class of individuals who say: “never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence” and boy hooee is Trump incompetent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The script for that has already been written by Sarah Palin when she got tired of being Governor and quit

    While I think it is definitely valid to view Palin as a proto-Trumpian figure, they aren’t one and the same. A large part of Palin’s narrative was being the poor, innocent victim of the media lynch mob, and that actually runs somewhat contrary to the image Trump likes to project of himself as the manly fighter always winning, always crushing his enemies.

    In any case, the notion probably reflects a misunderstanding of his psychology. Back in November, Byron York did a good post collecting the bewildering number of failed predictions by pundits that Trump would drop out of the race. A more insightful take on the matter came from Jamelle Bouie, pointing out that dropping out would instantly brand Trump as the “biggest loser in the history of American politics.” I think that’s even truer now than it was during the campaign.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  51. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Trump killed the TPP. Later, China starts rewarding trademarks to Trump, forgiving debt to Trump and his family, and starts buying his property. “Not literally treason!” you scream.

    Trump still retains control of his businesses; he can remove his sons or his CFO at any time. Trump, who has said “Russia, if you’re listening, find the e-mails” in a campaign speech, and lo! Like magic, e-mails appear from “Wikileaks.” “How rude and uncivil to point that out!” you huff.

    Now Trump claims he “barely knows” Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, or Mike Flynn? That he has never talked to Russia, never done business with Russia? Please.

    I don’t have time to educate you about Nixon and him sabotaging the 1968 Vietnam Paris talks, or Reagan selling arms to Iran in exchange for freeing the hostages, the 1988 Willie Horton or Revolving Door ads or attacking Dukakis as a “card carrying member of the ACLU,” the Brooks Brothers riot and other shameless attempts to halt voter recounts, or every other single incident of ratf*cking by Republicans. You either obviously don’t know or don’t care.

    So don’t blame your willful ignorance on me. Go attempt to normalize Trump to some other crowd.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  52. Lit3Bolt says:

    @gVOR08:

    Because only loony conspiracy theorists wonder what’s in Trump’s tax returns.

    Russia hacking the DNC, the Clinton campaign, every Yahoo account, and old Republican e-mail accounts is now exactly the same as accusing Obama of being born in Kenya.

    Someone downloaded the new talking points!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  53. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: You make good points. And I think it is unlikely that Trump will resign, that he will be impeached, or that he will be removed via 25. But, contrary to that, I think there is a very, very real possibility that this sh*tstorm will blow up. At that point something will have to happen.

    So – I don’t know. It can’t change and it can’t stay the same. I find myself playing through different scenarios. And one thing we do know from Trump’s history is that when the bankers came to him and told him to eat a sh*tpie or face total ruin, he grinned and ate it and told the world it was the best birthday cake ever.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  54. Grumpy Realist says:

    @Lit3Bolt: I think “treason” should require evidence of a mens rea that we’re not seeing in this case.

    Trump is probably chalking this all up to a “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” horse trading mentality and doesn’t understand why people are getting pissed at him. Ditto for his pushing of the new “Health Care Act”. He doesn’t really care WHO is getting shoved off the liferaft to make the numbers work out. Just as long as he gets to “Make A Deal” and get a lot of pictures taken of himself, he’s perfectly happy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  55. KM says:

    @Grumpy Realist:

    I think “treason” should require evidence of a mens rea that we’re not seeing in this cas

    Out of curiosity, what would you term it then? If one commits treason unknowingly, what is the legal term? We have degrees of murder and manslaughter; plus, I’m aware of historical degrees for treason that most likely don’t apply in this case.

    If I sell a USB that I know has confidential data on it to a shady guy deliberately but later learn it was the nuke codes I sold out to the Russians when that was never the intention, what crime did I just commit?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  56. S. Fields says:

    James Joyner says:

    Moreover, given the fact that most of the lies are not only easily debunked but serve no obvious strategic purpose…

    The purpose, strategic or otherwise, lies in the intended audience for the lies.

    Trumpkins see only his Twitter feed and the favorable coverage of his tweets shown on Fox and Friends. The great majority of the debunking never gets within a million miles of his fans and what little they see is dismissed as fake.

    Therefore, Trump is able to activate his followers to harass Republican congress-critters regardless of the mendacity. He is immune to the whatever forces damaged Gore.

    There will be no TELLING Trump’s followers that he is screwing up their lives and the country. They will only come around when they start SEEING the damage in their day to day. (Even then, no small number will blame Obama and the Dems.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  57. grumpy realist says:

    @KM: I could make a pretty good argument that historically, some sort of a mens rea was required (at least up until the 16th century where the levels of treason collapsed dramatically and almost every anti-governmental activity could get your head cut off.) I remember reading an early-16th century French legal opinion which basically threw out a case of treason because the “riding with foreign armies” (which is one of the non-maximal levels of treason) accusation was held to not be satisfied—the accused had gone out for a ride and ended up getting caught up in a band of mercenaries and it was in trying to get away from them that he had fallen off his horse, etc.

    The reason why treason is defined in the U.S. Constitution is because the Founding Fathers saw the mischief that can be done when you leave it up to the whim of the ruler. (or, in five cases I looked at, the judgment of the city bursar trying to fill the city coffers.)

    Typically, as a rule of thumb, the more serious the crime, the more important an existence of mens rea as an element will become.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  58. Just 'nutha ign'int cracker says:

    Considering that treason is defined in the Constitution as entering into a conspiracy with a foreign power to overthrow the government or seize physical control of some portion of the several states, I don’t think that it’s possible to unknowingly commit treason. I suppose that what is being talked about on this thread might be sedition, but in terms of looking at the details of the sequences of events, probably graft is most accurate.

    So Trump, try though he might to be something more significant, is just another Republican grifter.

    (And why is the spell checker marking “grifter” as misspelled?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  59. Hal_10000 says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    It’s not about normalizing Trump. It’s about not sounding like hysterical fools while we oppose him. I know you’re used to sitting in this echo chamber comments section and having everyone agree. But there are different opinions out there. The protests that erupted after the election, the crazy (and mainstreamed) conspiracy theories about Russian hacking, the series of “OH MY GOD!” stories that turn out to be nothing … these have convinced Trump supporters that every complaint about Trump is nothing but sour grapes. And as long as Trump’s base supports him, he stays in power and able to do what he wants.

    You can only cry so often before the public tunes out, as we learned with Bush 43. And when you’re calling for impeachments based on … Michael Flynn lying about a phone call, Donald Trump shooting his mouth off about Russia hacking the Clintons, Trump canceling a trade deal that Sanders (and eventually Clinton) opposed … it sounds crazy. Watergate did not happen in a day. Russiagate will not happen in a day (if it happens at all). So maybe don’t write off all of Trump’s supporter as crazed fascist racist traitors just yet. I know that need to feel morally superior to conservagive is powerful but maybe give this some time to develop and for people to realize what they’re dealing with?

    Guess not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  60. Hal_10000 says:

    @SenyorDave:

    They voted for a candidate who supported a truly disgusting racist narrative that they knew was a lie

    Yes. This is the only reason they voted for him. Jeez.

    The birtherism thing unveils one of the big divides in politics. To liberals, it was obviously a racist narrative. And I certainly see the racist aspects of it. But to a lot of conservatives, it was just dumb. They didn’t see the racial aspects of it and therefore it was not disqualifying. This blindness to racism is a problem. I would argue that it is probably one of the bigger problems in the country right now. But shoving it into the same category as racism itself does not help.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  61. Davebo says:

    @Hal_10000:

    But to a lot of conservatives, it was just dumb. They didn’t see the racial aspects of it and therefore it was not disqualifying. This blindness to racism is a problem.

    That’s uncharacteristically silly of you. They didn’t see the racial aspects of it? Puhleeze…

    No one was claiming Obama was born in Indonesia or Bali. That’s some Sean Spicer quality twisting there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  62. Davebo says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Leaving aside the mental origami it takes to decide lots of birthers felt Trump’s birtherisms weren’t the least bit racist but just dumb, the fact that to seemingly millions of these voters you’ve excused, spending year after year pushing something “dumb” wasn’t disqualifying.

    Are you calling those voters dumb because it doesn’t sound like very smart reasoning to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  63. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    The birtherism thing unveils one of the big divides in politics. To liberals, it was obviously a racist narrative. And I certainly see the racist aspects of it. But to a lot of conservatives, it was just dumb.

    You’re using the word “dumb” almost like a magical incantation as if it frees you from the need to delve any deeper into the reasons why people might hold one dumb belief over another dumb belief.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s dumb. I think it’s paranoid and hateful. But I’m not going to get into an argument over terminology. The point is, conspiracy theories do not all have the same motivations or point of view. Belief that the moon landings were faked does not stem from the same source as belief that the Holocaust didn’t happen.

    And keep in mind that birtherism is merely the most prominent of a family of conspiracy theories that obsess over Obama’s background and heritage. It began, of course, with the claim that Obama is a secret Muslim, and it’s sprouted many sub-theories and variations, from the notion that he lost his American citizenship to the claim that he inherited “Kenyan anti-colonial rage” from a biological father he barely knew. Sorry, this is all just fundamentally different from the 9/11 truthers or the business with Vince Foster, not because it’s loonier per se, but because it has a different focus, a different perspective. It isn’t just an arbitrary bit of paranoia applied to things that happened during his presidency, but something reflecting an abnormal preoccupation with his origins.

    In a sense, the conspiracy stuff is only the tip of the iceberg. The overriding theme of a great deal of anti-Obama commentary is the idea that he’s somehow alien and foreign. The theme shows up implicitly even among critics who don’t wear tinfoil hats. You have to be willfully blind not to notice how this differs from the run-of-the-mill partisan hatred other presidents have experienced.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  64. Hal_10000 says:

    For eight years, I found that nothing would draw me so much fire as the suggestion that Obama (and his supporters), even if I disagreed with them, were not America-hating communists intent on ruining this country and enabling terrorism. Now it appears that, for the next four years, nothing will draw as much fire as suggesting that Trump’s supporters, even I disagree with them, are not racist, traitorous America-hating monsters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  65. Pch101 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    There you go again. False equivalencies are all the rage in your household.

    Does Putin have to write you a letter for you to see the financial trail that leads from the Russians to Trump and his assorted cronies? And how would anyone with two functioning brain cells believe that is comparable in any way to anything that came out of the Obama administration?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  66. Jeremy says:

    @Hal_10000: Congratulations, you are now a sane American.

    Sucks, doesn’t it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  67. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Now it appears that, for the next four years, nothing will draw as much fire as suggesting that Trump’s supporters, even I disagree with them, are not racist, traitorous America-hating monsters.

    But that isn’t the argument I made. There’s only one person engaging in caricature here, and it isn’t me.

    Look, I get it. It isn’t easy being a sane conservative in the age of Trump, when the ultimate liberal strawman of a Republican is now the party’s standard bearer. That’s got to be hard to take. I say that with no particular glee; just two years ago even I didn’t think it was remotely plausible that the party was crazy enough to nominate someone like Trump. But that’s a reality we all have to grapple with now, just as I would have to do some serious rethinking if the Dems ever did nominate someone like, say, Jill Stein. That’s the thing–our crackpots are found mostly within the ghetto of the Green Party. There are plenty of problems with the Democratic Party, but it does not have a cuckooland problem, it does not have a racism problem, and it does not have a treason problem.

    Of course if you’re committed in advance to the belief that the parties are eternally equivalent, then nothing I say matters; I’m just a biased partisan arguing for my “team” (never mind that there are quite a few conservatives who would agree with everything I’ve said thus far).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  68. Jeremy says:

    @Kylopod: Is there any actual proof that Hal_10000 is a conservative, or is that something you are all assuming?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  69. cian says:

    @Hal_10000: Appreciate you articulating the other side of the argument in a thoughtful and reasoned way.

    For me, the battle is not between hysterics (which no one here is) and die-hard Trump supporters, rather the battle is between those of us who have real concerns regarding where this administration wants to take the country, and those who want to minimize what is happening.

    The problem with minimizing is that once you start it’s hard to stop. Authoritarian regimes rely on this. Begin with the small stuff, stuff reasonable enough people can have some sort of sympathy with and then slowly ratchet it up. Imagine the number of Germans who started out in 1933 saying ‘Give him a chance’ only to end up, 5 short years later, justifying the beating to death of fellow citizens on the streets of Berlin.

    I’m not saying that’s where we’re heading, but there are enough similarities- attacking the free press, undermining the judiciary, creating scapegoats- to suggest that we are just one terrorist attack away from those now in charge taking the country in that direction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  70. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    suggesting that Trump’s supporters, even I disagree with them, are not racist, traitorous America-hating monsters.

    It’s hard to argue there isn’t at least a strong element of racism among Trump voters. As to traitorous and monstrous, no, I haven’t seem anyone say that of his voters. That’s his colleagues.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  71. Pch101 says:

    @gVOR08:

    It’s hard to argue there isn’t at least a strong element of racism among Trump voters

    And yet conservatives go to great lengths to make that argument.

    It’s all part of what it makes it difficult to take conservatives seriously. The whole movement is built on the denial of easily documented facts.

    Birtherism was driven by a desire to cast Obama as a Muslim from the depths of Africa, the untrustworthy uppity negro Other. How could that possibly not be motivated by racism when the entire premise is built on a foundation of race and an alleged alien ethnicity?

    One of the reasons that racism thrives in American conservative politics is because those conservatives who aren’t racist ignore, defend and rationalize it instead of fixing it. The failure to remove a cancer just allows it to metastasize before it eventually kills the patient.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  72. grumpy realist says:

    (snort)

    Read down to the last sentence of the article.

    Even the weather doesn’t like Trump.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  73. Monala says:

    @Jeremy: He has labeled himself that way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  74. Jeremy says:

    @Monala: Well, if that’s the case, then he made his bed. But he sounds far more reasonable than most conservatives — even #NeverTrump conservatives — I hear and listen to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  75. Monala says:

    @Jeremy: He is, in general.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0