I won’t go so far as to say this country has become ungovernable, but it surely isn’t being governed. That’s become evident as we wrap up a jaw-dropping couple of weeks. The madness coincided with Trump’s foray off-shore; he started off predictably enough: gratuitously insulting our closest allies, and doing his level best to implode the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Trump views NATO the same way he looks at everything: transactionally; and he seems to be convinced the U.S. is getting the worst of that bargain. I’d bet my life that Trump is blissfully unaware that NATO’s Article 5, the mutual-defense clause, has been invoked exactly once in the treaty’s 70-year history: by us, in the aftermath of 9/11. Our allies honored their commitment and came running.).
The real bombshell (or a barrage of them) came days later, as Trump sat down and rolled over in Finland. The story has been well-told by others, and is being busily revised as we speak by the White House, so I needn’t remind you of the horrifying tableau of a sitting U.S. president being so thoroughly dominated by that grim personification of KGB perfidy. Might not be fair to call Putin grim, though—normally that rictus he calls a smile comes nowhere near his eyes…but on this occasion, watching Trump dance for him, he seemed positively joyful.
Trump has been spinning, as he does, recasting the meanings of “would” and “wouldn’t” but more importantly, defending himself. He’s the toughest on Russia there’s ever been, he says. The summit was the greatest success, he says.
Advisory for Trump: when members of your own damned party are so befuddled by your behavior that the likeliest explanation they can come up with is that you’re being blackmailed—then no, the summit was not a success.
Of course, not all Republicans have been that forthcoming. A distressing number are still in lockstep with their leader. Most fall somewhere in the middle: willing to offer some mild rebuke for the hellscape in Helsinki, but not much more. They seem to be approaching it like they do the totality of Trumpdom: just waiting for it to blow over.
The Democrats aren’t exactly holding the high ground, however. The opposition party is united in disdain, but I haven’t seen or heard much from them other than zippy tweets and sound bytes. And much worse—they’re fundraising off this. That’s parasitic.
And it’s ample evidence of what a stain that partisanship has become on the fabric of our republic. This is not hyperbole: a chief executive who plainly and blatantly serves the interest of an unfriendly power is a clear and present danger to the nation. The only people who can possibly stop him—or even mitigate him a little—are overwhelmingly self-serving or ineffectual, or both. What we need now are patriots who’ll work together for the sake of the nation. What we have is a mob that can’t get out of its own way.
So rounding back to the beginning: are we ungovernable? Perhaps based on the system we’ve subjected ourselves to, we’re getting exactly the government we deserve.