Here’s an interesting question:
If someone says the president should be executed, is he making an active threat against the chief executive that warrants some door knocking from the Secret Service? Well, what if that person is simply musing about the penalty for treason, and then goes on to accuse the president of that crime?
Yes, it’s a circuitous way to make a threat, and it makes for an interesting hypothetical that—
Oh, wait a minute. It’s not a rhetorical exercise.
Recently, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld said that “the president committed treason through his controversial phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — adding that the punishment for treason is death.”
Now, you might think that Weld is one of those hardcore leftists whose days consist of smuggling undocumented immigrants, officiating gay weddings, and having brunch with the Squad before heading out to throw punches with Antifa.
But Weld is a Republican.
Damn, even conservatives are getting tired of Trump.
At long last, the president’s rampant corruption and overt contempt for the Constitution have become hideous enough for Democrats to finally emerge from hiding under their desks to whisper the word “impeachment.”
Still, even with all that Trump has done, many Democrats are afraid of removing the most bellicose, unstable, and reckless president that America has ever had.
You see, they are petrified they might lose the votes of Q Anon supporters. And if that is not a solid reason to shirk one’s constitutional duty and endanger the entire country, well, I don’t know what is.
In any case, this Ukrainian mess will likely not change anyone’s mind. If you are progressive, and tuned into the slightest particle on reality’s wave length, you will look at the transcript of the president’s phone call and see that it “reads like a classic mob shakedown.”
If you are a Republican, and exceedingly used to denying basic facts and common-sense conclusions, you will scream “witch hunt” or “fake news” or “the deep state” or some other worn-out catchphrase that long ago morphed from stinging rebuke into pathetic plea.
It’s difficult to believe that anyone would still embrace the administration’s sad, sloppy attempts at distracting, deflecting blame, and eluding public disgrace. But you can’t blame Trump for sticking to a formula that works.
After all, his GOP enablers will jump through flaming hoops to twist incriminating statements into exonerations. They argued that the Muller Report cleared Trump and believed that releasing the transcript of the Ukrainian phone call would never ever in a million years backfire. Hell, they view themselves as heroes.
And Trump’s fearful, logic-challenged base agrees. After all, these are the people who believe that virtually all writers, scientists, historians, economists, moderate politicians, and religious leaders (non-evangelicals) have devoted their lives to lying to the American populace for some unknown, nefarious reason.
Members of the base further believe that a delusional narcissist with a history of lying, bankruptcy, unethical behavior, and adultery is a beacon of truth — well, him and Fox News, which is little more than a slithering mass of irrational, hate-filled propaganda pushed by bigoted zealots who have a strong financial incentive to terrify their viewers.
So it’s going to work — at least with the 20 percent of Americans who will support the president no matter what.
For the rest of us, we remain mired in a political nightmare that careens between Lynchian and Kafkaesque, with swivels toward the Orwellian and stray Lewis Carroll fever dreams.
But is there reason to hope that we are nearing the end of this mad-scientist experiment on American democracy? Well, there is more cause for optimism than there has been since November 2016.
Of course, if Trump actually is removed from office, or hangs on only to lose the 2020 election, “the risks of bloodshed are real.”
So we’re back to acknowledging that there is no end in sight.
Featured image: President Donald J. Trump exits Air Force One on September 6, 2017, in Mandan, North Dakota. (D. Myles Cullen/White House)