We cannot make any judgments on whether or not the campaign of the man elected president of the United States of America was in cahoots with a hostile government to rig the election in Donald Trump's favor. We just don't have all the facts yet.
We don't know for sure whether there indeed is a fire or where it is, exactly. We do know there's a hell of a lot of smoke, and it's blowing in from that direction.
And we also know this: That we're even suspecting what we suspect means the republic is in mortal danger. That Trump is governing how he has thus far -- via a weird mix of basic incompetence, a fundamental skepticism of the American narrative and a vindictiveness toward his political enemies, the poor, the Other and even some of his own supporters -- only adds to our peril.
Can the United States survive this? No one knows, not really. We have no experience in this; the closest analogy would be an investigation into Leonid Brezhnev ordering the KGB to break into the Watergate on behalf of Richard Nixon . . . who was allegedly in on the plot.
|Facing South. Courthouse, Denison, Iowa.|
Or, as newsman Dan Rather said today on Facebook:
If you are a praying person, today is a day to pray for the future of your country. I have seen a lot in my decades in the press, but I have never seen a day like this. This is a stress test for our democratic institutions and one can only hope that the system of checks and balances we hold so dear, can indeed hold.RATHER, who covered Watergate as tenaciously as anyone at the time . . . and has more than 60 years of journalism under his belt, said that as The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza was writing this in the newspaper's The Fix blog:
The statements by FBI Director James Comey in testimony today about Russian interference in the 2016 election were jaw dropping. It should be also noted that both he and NSA director, Adm. Mike Rogers, categorically denied that there was any evidence to support Mr. Trump's repeated allegations that Trump Tower was wiretapped by President Obama. That we do know. But it must be noted how much we do not know. We cannot afford to back off on investigating, fully, completely, and openly, allegations that are anathema to the spirit of our republic. But we cannot also afford to jump to conclusions. We want answers. We want to know more. That is natural. But patience will be required. It is better that this plays out in a systematic way. It is for all these reasons that I think a careful bipartisan investigation is essential.
Given Comey's flat denial of any evidence of Trump Tower being wiretapped, there will be increased pressure on both Trump and Republican members of Congress to back off that position and apologize for it. Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Will Hurd (R-Tex.) have already called on Trump to apologize to Obama. It's hard to imagine that other GOPers won't follow that lead in light of Comey's testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Monday.
Trump is another matter. His offhand remark at a joint news appearance Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that perhaps he and she had both been wiretapped by the Obama administration suggests he isn't planning to leave the issue alone — much less apologize for it.
And we know that for 35 to 40 percent of the public, that will be enough; they simply trust Trump more than they trust any intelligence official or media outlet.
But that's sort of beside the point. Trump is the president of the United States. There is now ample evidence that a very serious accusation he made about a former president is simply not true. Standing by it now is simply irresponsible.
Trust me on this; I'm in my 50s, and I'm from the South. Back in the day, probably half of the biggest flag wavers in Dixie would pick Brand B in a blind taste test where Brand A was the United States of America and Brand B was Nazi Germany.
Whether Trump stays or goes, we're going to have to deal with that 35- to 40 percent of Americans who are every bit as un-American and subversive as unreconstructed white Southerners were in the 1950s and '60s.
It will get ugly, and our country may not survive it. Assuming it survives Trump.
I'm with Dan Rather. Today is a fine day to pray for the future of America.