We noted weeks ago that Trump would take the entire country down if he believed it would save him. He will pull a gun and put it to the nation’s head, daring Democrats and legitimate Republicans to “try it.” Today, we see the trigger point.
The most prominent Republican willing to come on the Sunday Talk shows – or at least Meet the Press – Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, took a single question to dive into the ultimate “defense” of Donald Trump: Burn the country’s legitimacy to ashes, all to protect one man.
It was, one of the scariest scenes that I have seen on television in some time. It left Chuck Todd visibly shaken, it left Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut who came on after Johnson, palpably gut-punched. Without the slightest bit of hyperbole, it was horrific. I have only the little bit dribbling onto the net at this point:
In a remarkably combative performance for Todd, he found himself shouting over the Republican and demanding he stick to the questions at hand.
With Todd attempting to press the Trump defender on the president’s Ukraine phone call, Johnson instead rambled, “You’ve got [former CIA director] John Brennan on, you ought to ask director Brennan, what did Peter Strzok mean when he texted Lisa Page on December 15, 2016, quote—.”
Todd had asked about an accusation that is all but “proven,” the Ukrainian shakedown, and Johnson brought-up Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. Yes, he did, and Todd had to angrily get Johnson to at least attempt to address the actual question.
“I have no idea why Fox News propaganda stuff is popping up on here,” Todd insisted. “I have no idea.”
“Because this is underlining exactly why President Trump is upset, and why his supporters are upset, with the news media,” Johnson exclaimed as both of their voices rose.
It has nothing to do with Ukraine, nothing. It is apparent that the defense consists of: “If Trump is justifiably angry enough, he should be forgiven for doing whatever the fck he wants.”
“Senator Johnson, please!” Todd snapped. “Cane please answer the question that I asked you, instead of trying to make Donald Trump feel better here that you’re not criticizing him?! I’m just trying to ask a simple question of what made you wince?”
“Because I didn’t want those connected,” Johnson fired back, “When I asked the president about that, he completely denied it. He adamantly denied it. He vehemently, angrily denied it. He said, ‘I’d never do that.’”
The term “gaslighting” is overused, but there is simply no other fitting description when one walks onto the most prominent TV news show in the country and spouts long-debunked conspiracy theories to defend the most earth-shattering impeachment accusation in our generation.
A democracy cannot run on lies, and it cannot legitimately exist where there is no reality, no rules: The nation comes undone, it burns. Watch the match get lit.
WATCH: @SenRonJohnson is asked why he winced & brings up a "conspiracy theory."@chucktodd: "I have no idea why we're going here. … Can we please answer the question I asked you instead of trying to make Donald Trump feel better here that you're not criticizing him?" #MTP pic.twitter.com/41i7WPHQlF
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) October 6, 2019
There is a defense to all this. It is this simple:
Republicans: “Yes, what Trump did was wrong, and the White House should be reprimanded by both Houses of Congress, but it is not worth removal from office.”
The Republicans, holding a majority of the Senate, could easily get away with such a defense, while also retaining their dignity, not to mention maintaining a necessary predicate: a government functioning upon “the truth.”
But such a defense requires the White House to live with acknowledging, or at least not fighting, a reprimand, an admission that it made a mistake.
Part of the definition of “adulthood” is the ability to admit one has made a mistake. We do it, near daily. But, near as I can tell, Trump has never done it, nor is he about to start now. Thus, the obvious defense is unavailable to the Republicans. Because they are so wholly controlled by Trump, they must do his bidding, as if Trump were Vader, who could choke Johnson on live TV.
It leaves Republicans willing to sacrifice the government’s legitimacy, all over one man, one raving lunatic with the ability to publicly destroy careers with two tweets – absent a united Republican front.
You knew Republicans would do it, again, we all predicted it. Still, it is hard to prepare oneself. As it played out on TV, it shook a veteran journalist to the core. When faced with the choice, the Republicans choose “party over country,” and “Trump over truth.”
Of course they did.
But it is still stunning to watch in real time. No matter how cynical one has become, one is always having to catch-up with this Republican party. One could write columns weeks ago, predicting this very scenario, yet still be jaw-dropped, watching in real time, someone pour gas over a lit United States.
Better to send your 42% base into orgasmic convulsions, while the nation of the greatest minds ever assembled, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Martin Luther King, burns, over Donald J. Trump.
firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @MiciakZoom