Remember all the talk that Putin views Trump as a “useful idiot?” It appears that Donald Trump views his supporters the exact same way -- that they are “useful idiots.” Here’s a post you can hand to Republicans you encounter who are still defending Trump.
Abraham Lincoln – the greatest Republican ever – is credited with the observation that “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
He probably would not be thrilled to learn that his Grand Old Party has become “some of the people all of the time.”
Hey, Republicans, listen up! You may think that I am annoying for all of my commentary on your amoral, cowardly, self-interested allegiance to the Bloviator-in-Chief. But may I ask that you take a moment to re-frame the essential issue? It’s not me you should be worried about. Rather, take a moment to contemplate that it is actually Donald Trump who thinks you are stupid.
Donald Trump isn’t trying to fool me! He knows that progressives like me see him as a cheating, soulless, preternaturally insecure two-bit felon with the impulse control issues of a rabid rottweiler. And trust me, by tomorrow morning I’m going to get a dozen emails complaining that I am making an association that is unfairly unflattering to rottweilers.
No, Donald Trump isn’t trying to fool me. He needs to keep fooling you. Republicans. His supporters. His base.
And he is doing it.
Let me start with a particularly egregious insult to my – wait, make that, your intelligence.
Donald Trump stood on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday and said that the reason that he had withheld military aid to Ukraine was because he was "concerned about corruption." He said the word more than 20 times.
Hey, it’s perfectly reasonable for the President of the United States to say that our government is going to withhold aid until a country makes a commitment to root out obvious corruption. But this is not that. It is a weapons grade example of Donald Trump thinking that Republicans are stupid.
- For starters, Donald Trump’s own administration is one of the most corrupt in American history, starting with a campaign manager who is now in Federal prison, a National Security Advisor who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, a lawyer in prison for paying hush money to a porn star at the direction of a sitting President, cabinet officers forced out for corruption (Zinke, Price, Pruitt), under scrutiny for misuse of Federal funds (Carson), considered to have violated conflict of interest policies (DeVos, Ross), on top of criminal investigations into the Trump Organization and Trump Foundation.
- Moreover, Trump has never previously raised issues of corruption when dealing with some of the most corrupt governments on the face of the earth, highlighted by his bromances with Putin, Kim Jong-un, and most notably Mohammad bin Salman, whose record on corruption is no doubt pristine save for that one little incident of murdering and dismembering a American journalist.
- When Donald Trump was asked on Friday on the South Lawn to name another instance in which he had confronted a foreign government about corruption, he could not think of a single one.
- Indeed, the only examples of “corruption” in Ukraine that Trump cited in his call with President Zelensky were unsupported allegations against the Bidens and drudging up a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. It was not a generalized commentary that Zelensky needed to clean up Ukrainian corruption, it was a specific focus on one family that happened to include his most formidable domestic political opponent.
- When Trump had been asked to explain why he held up military aid to Ukraine, he did not say, “because of the corruption.” The initial reason he gave was because he felt that European countries were not giving enough money to Ukraine.
Please, my Republican friends, Donald Trump is not trying to retro-actively reposition his behavior on the phone call to Zelensky in an attempt to fool me. He knows he will never get my support. He is saying all this stuff because he desperately needs your support. You are the 43% approval rating that he is clinging to like a drunk hugging the porcelain. All of his projectile disinformation is aimed at you.
And he apparently thinks you are stupid enough to buy it.
Here’s another good example of Donald Trump treating Republicans like a collection of burned out 30 watt bulbs.
Donald Trump has been walking around for the last week screaming that there was “no quid pro quo.” He cites the summary of his Zelensky phone call (which, to be clear, was not a verbatim transcript) excitedly reporting that there is no specific instance in which he overtly states in a single sentence that U.S. military aid is contingent on Zelensky investigating the Bidens.
Ah, how does Donald deem Republicans to be dummies? Let me count the ways…
Here is civics lesson number one: there does not need to be a “quid pro quo” in order for Donald Trump to stand accused of a criminal act and an article of impeachment. It is a crime for any candidate to accept any campaign donation from a foreign government. Full stop. End of discussion. Period. Donald Trump wants you Republicans to believe that there has to be a proven quid pro quo in order for him to be impeached. He is wrong. Now, it happens that there are more and vastly better reasons to impeach Trump… but receiving “something of value” from a foreign government to influence an election alone is a Federal crime. And that is what he demanded of Zelensky.
Civics lesson number two: Donald Trump does not seem to understand that even in his own fabricated, illusory version of the phone call, he would still be making a quid pro quo. He now claims that the issue he had with Ukraine was “corruption” – not Biden – and that his demand of Zelensky was that Ukraine root out “corruption” in order to get the U.S. military aid. That, Donald, is a quid pro quo. Diplomats of the United States do quid pro quos all the time. Here’s a good example: “The United States of America will not remove economic sanctions imposed on Russia until Russia withdraws its military occupation of Crimea.” See that, Donald? A perfectly legit quid pro quo. Quid pro quos, per se, are not the problem.
The problem is that Trump’s particular quid pro quo singularly linked a promise on behalf of the United States of America to an action demanded for the personal benefit of an individual who is an officer of the government. Trump claims that he was demanding that Zelensky “clean up corruption” in order to get the U.S. aid. But Trump never spoke about a generalized sense of “corruption” in the Ukraine in the entire transcript summary. Not once. Go ahead, Republicans... read the actual White House summary of the call. You’d have to be pretty stupid to think that Donald Trump was talking about “Ukrainian corruption” in general.
How about those “smoking texts?” Trump is confident that you Republicans will ignore how clearly they demonstrate the administration’s intent to link the military aid to Zelensky’s willingness to investigate Biden.
Here are a few gems…
On September 1, career diplomat and Acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor wrote a text to the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland that emphatically demands clarification on this exact issue:
Taylor, 12:08 pm: “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are condition on investigations?”
It is clear that Taylor is seeking a confirmation of a policy that he has been informed about. If Sondland thought that Taylor was wrong in his conclusion, he could have texted “no.” Instead, he simply texts “Call me.” "Call me" is what people write when their answer is either much more complicated than a sharp and simple "no," or when they don't want there to be a paper trail of an affirmation.
On September 8, Taylor spells out a “nightmare scenario” in which the Ukrainians execute their half of the quid pro quo by publicly announcing the re-opening of the investigations, but they still do not get the military aid they were promised. Taylor takes the extra moment to spell out how he would react to such a betrayal of the Ukrainians.
Taylor, 12:47 pm: “The nightmare is they give the interview and don’t get the security assistance. The Russians love it. (And I quit.)” Yes, Taylor was so upset about the “arms for political dirt” quid pro quo that he threatened to quit.
As if all these texts alone did not prove the point, it becomes clear one day later that Taylor and Sondland have had a phone conversation discussing the precise quid pro quo that Trump will later deny:
Taylor, 12:47 am: “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
Five hours pass, and Sondland finally texts back, but now in far more formal -- almost legal -- language. It is far more carefully structured prose than anything noted in his prior texts. He attempts to retroactively re-frame the content of the prior phone call that had been the subject of Taylor’s text, and then Sondland concludes by urging that Taylor discontinue his texting immediately. This final instruction clearly suggests a consciousness of guilt and a realization that this paper trail could be kryptonite for the White House:
Sondland, 5:19 am: “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign and I suggest we stop the back and forth by text. If you still have concerns I recommend you give Lisa Kenna or S a call to discuss them directly.”
Again, let me remind the reader: Trump did not say a single word about “transparency and reforms” in his call with Zelensky.
Trump actually cited the final Sondland text in his Friday South Lawn Press conference as supposed "corroboration" for his claim of being only concerned about corruption, conveniently ignoring the repeated texts from Taylor that tell the opposite story. A reporter asks him to name any other country in the world where he has expressed concern to a foreign leader about corruption, and he could not.
Ok, Republicans, have at it: who thinks you are stupid?
Yes, Donald Trump thinks that all you Republicans will completely dismiss, ignore, and reject the multiple texts from a career diplomat expressing outrage that military assistance is being held up pending Ukrainian abdication to an illegal scheme to aid the President’s re-election.
Or, perhaps, more accurately, that you won't even take the time to read them for yourselves.
Or that you will simply accept Sean Hannity's version of everything.
Yes, I am beginning to agree with Trump. You Republicans are dumb as a box of hammers.
Go ahead, Republicans… toe Trump’s line. Buy everything he is selling. Don't trouble yourselves with testing his rationalizations and fabrications against fact.
You can believe that Trump didn’t use the leverage of your tax dollars to put the screws to the leader of a fragile, brutally threatened ally in order to force him to manufacture dirt on Trump's most threatening political adversary.
You can pretend that every senior official in Trump’s government – Trump, Pence, Barr, Mulvany, Pompeo – didn’t know they their administration was shaking down a vulnerable leader in order to undermine the 2020 election.
You can pull the blankets over your head and convince yourself that Trump did not put the citizens and soldiers in Ukraine in grave danger by denying U.S. military aid, all so that he could try to manufacture a scandal about a political rival.
You can feign ignorance to the fact that denying aid to Ukraine actually puts our own national security at increased risk.
You can believe Donald Trump when he says that he is really concerned about “fighting corruption in Ukraine,” when the closest relationships he has with foreign leaders are with murderous thugs who rape their nations for personal gain.
You can shame yourselves by following the embarrassing examples of Marco Rubio, Jim Jordan, Roy Blunt, and Kevin McCarthy, who all claimed that Donald Trump was only “joking” when he publicly suggested that China should open their own investigation of the Bidens. Look at the tape and tell me that Trump is “joking.” You don’t think that China would be willing to investigate Biden in return for reduced tariffs?
You can tell yourself that Trump and his cronies are not brazenly undermining the Constitution when they refuse to submit to Congressional oversight.
Go ahead, Republicans... go all the way. Convince yourself Donald Trump is not a clear and present danger to our democracy, our Constitution, our standing in the global community, and the health of our planet.
While you're at it, you can even believe that Alabama is reeling from a non-existent hurricane, that global warming isn’t real, that Ted Cruz’s father killed JFK, and that Obama was born in Kenya.
And this is the guy who is telling you that it is the The New York Times that peddles "fake news."
You will believe anything he tells you to.
Here's something for you to chew on.
What if it happens that second whistle-blower – the one who is a “first hand witness” -- asserts that Trump clearly articulated his “arms-for-political-dirt” quid pro quo to Zelensky?
Trump has been screaming “no quid pro quo!” for two weeks as if that is the only measure by which he should be judged, exonerated, and not impeached.
But if it is proven that there was a quid pro quo, would you then agree that he should be impeached?
Would you abandon him then?
Is there any line that you will draw? Any line at all?
Or would you just dive deeper into the pool of hallucinogens you swim in to keep Donald Trump as your President?
Me? I think it is time has come for Republicans to be confronted with the fact that if they still support Donald Trump, they are self-identifying as stupid, ignorant, and/or naïve. And that they must pick a minimum of two.
But, hey, don’t pay attention to me.
It’s Donald Trump who thinks you will believe his every crazy assertion, his every lame excuse, his every unsubstantiated claim, and his every insulting and degrading lie.
And if you do believe Donald Trump, then Trump is right.
You are every bit as stupid as he needs you to be.
There they are, President Lincoln, your Republican Party.
Some of the people, all of the time.
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