COLUMN: Thoughts on ‘the Russia thing’

Published 2:00 am Sunday, June 18, 2017

“People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. ”— Richard Nixon

Let’s just have a conversation, an honest conversation, you and I.

Unfortunately, when the subject is anything related to politics, that’s not as easy as it once was, because folks have drawn their battle lines, aren’t ready to give an inch, and as a general rule are only willing to call folks not in lockstep with their thinking names in increasingly louder but less civil tones.

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But whether one is liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican (none of which mean what they used to), perhaps there are some truths that we might agree upon as something akin to ground rules.

First off, I think we all need to recognize that what the president calls “the Russia thing” does, in fact, exist and is not some “made up thing.” The Russian government, to a degree we don’t yet know, interfered, tried to influence the 2016 presidential election in this country, has done that in other countries, and fully intends to do the same thing again here unless we figure out how to stop them.

At its most basic level, an unfriendly foreign power attacked the democratic essence of the United States. Can we at least agree that happened and that is not a good thing? I ask this only because some administration-friendly folks I know have started to say “blame it on the Russians,” about everything, as if that were as frivolous as saying “blame it on the bossanova.”

I also wish that we might stop trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for using the most hyperbole and clichés.

While both the fact that way too many of the individuals in both the family and White House of President Donald Trump have connections of some sort to Russia about which they develop amnesia when filling out disclosure forms, and the fact that the president himself has acted more than passingly strange in every aspect of his dealing with now former FBI Director James Comey, it is unwarranted and far too premature to be constantly obsessing over words like “obstruction of justice” and “impeachment.”

In the first instance, obstruction of justice is a criminal charge and the Constitution provides no manner for indicting a sitting president who also has the unchecked power of pardon and in the second instance, impeachment, in any practical sense, is a political act — at present highly unlikely since the president’s party controls both houses of Congress.

Also, the ongoing scandal, the investigations being conducted into actions of Trump and his minions is not comparable and does not (at least yet) rise to the level of Watergate and we should all stop trying to force that analogy. As matter of principle, while we are at it, can we please stop calling every Washington scandal, large or small, something ending in “gate?”  I know it is just a knee-jerk thing in some circles, but like perpetually jerking knees, it is also tiresome.

Now, having said all that, I must now say that this is no petty, partisan, politically motivated and media promulgated “witch hunt” as the president is so fond of calling it in person and on Twitter. Should Donald Trump simultaneously develop both lingering laryngitis and permanent thumb palsy, both his presidency and the Republic would be well served.

The very idea of playing some political equivalent of Russian Roulette with the sovereignty of the United States is neither a laughing matter nor a concocted conspiracy theory. There’s an operant maxim about such things as this that maintains “the coverup is always worse than the crime.” And while that might generally be true, it would not be should the underlying crime turn out  to be treason.

And finally, to all those wishing that all this would simply go away and Washington get about doing the peoples’ work, I am sorry but that’s simply not in the cards. This is going to draw out for a long, long time.

“The Russia thing” has already rendered mute the Trump agenda and soon it will consume the Trump presidency, itself. The president may have famously come to Washington to “drain the swamp,” but instead his arrival has provided yet another tributary to feed it.

There are yet more shoes to drop, yet more reputations to be ruined, yet more loyalists to be sacrificed as self-glorification inexorably moves toward self-preservation and one reality show morphs into another.

The scripts for all Washington scandals are remarkably similar, and like those before it, this one too, must now play out.

Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of The Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.