Our democracy is in serious danger.
President Donald Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.
That is, either Mr. Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Mr. Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of his personally chosen chiefs of the CIA, NSA and FBI.
In sum, Mr. Trump is either hiding something highly threatening to himself or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. It seems very likely that one of these scenarios explains Mr. Trump’s refusal to respond to Russia’s direct attack on our system — a quiescence unprecedented for any president in history. Russia is acting in a hostile manner, and Mr. Trump keeps ignoring it.
Mr. Trump has been flouting the norms of the presidency. Now his behavior amounts to a refusal to carry out his oath of office — to protect and defend the Constitution. It’s as if George W. Bush had said after 9/11: “No big deal. I am going golfing this weekend in Florida and blogging about how it’s all the Democrats’ fault — no need to hold a National Security Council meeting.”
At a time when special prosecutor Robert Mueller — leveraging years of U.S. intelligence gathering — has brought indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups — all linked to the Kremlin — for interfering with the 2016 U.S. elections, America needs a president who will lead our nation’s defense against this attack on the integrity of our electoral democracy.
What would that look like? He would educate the public on the scale of the problem; he would bring together all the stakeholders — state and local election authorities, the federal government, both parties and all the owners of social networks that the Russians used to carry out their interference — to mount an effective defense; and he would bring together our intelligence and military experts to mount an effective offense against Mr. Putin — the best defense of all.
What we have instead is a president vulgarly tweeting that the Russians are “laughing their asses off in Moscow” for how we’ve been investigating their interventions — and exploiting the terrible school shooting in Florida — and the failure of the FBI to properly forward to its Miami field office a tip on the killer — to throw the entire FBI under the bus and create a new excuse to shut down the Mueller investigation.
Think for a moment how demented was Mr. Trump’s Saturday night tweet: “Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”
To the contrary. Our FBI, CIA and NSA, working with the special counsel, have done us amazingly proud. They’ve uncovered a Russian program to divide Americans and tilt our last election toward Mr. Trump — i.e., to undermine the very core of our democracy — and Mr. Trump is telling them to get back to important things like tracking would-be school shooters. Yes, the FBI made a mistake in Florida, but it acted heroically on Russia. What is more basic than protecting American democracy?
It is so obvious what Mr. Trump is up to: Again, he is either a total sucker for Mr. Putin or, more likely, he is hiding something that he knows the Russians have on him, and he knows that the longer Mr. Mueller’s investigation goes on, the more likely he will be to find and expose it.
Mr. Trump, if you are so innocent, why do you go to such extraordinary lengths to try to shut down Mr. Mueller? And if you are really the president, why don’t you actually lead — by leading not only a proper cyberdefense of our elections, but also an offense against Mr. Putin.
Mr. Putin is using cyberwarfare to poison American politics, to spread fake news, to help elect a chaos candidate, all in order to weaken our democracy. We should be using our cyber-capabilities to spread the truth about Mr. Putin — just how much money he has stolen, just how many lies he has spread, just how many rivals he has jailed or made disappear — all to weaken his autocracy. That is what a real president would be doing right now.
My guess is that Mr. Trump is hiding something about his financial ties to business elites tied to the Kremlin. They may own a big stake in him. Who can forget that quote from his son Donald Trump Jr. from back in 2008: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets.” They may own our president.
But whatever it is, Mr. Trump is trying so hard to hide it or is so naive about Russia that he is ready not only to resist mounting a proper defense of our democracy, he’s also ready to undermine some of our most important institutions, such as the FBI and the Justice Department, to keep his compromised status hidden.
This is code red. The biggest threat to our democracy today sits in the Oval Office.
THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
New York Times columnist
This should be obvious.
Seniors who vote for any Republican in these Trump-would-be-Dictator times are voting against their own interests. And against the interests of all Americans.
Do you really want Social Security and Medicare cut? Do you really want to pay more for oil, natural gas and anything made from plastic, steel, aluminum or wood, which includes paper?
Are you really OK with the way Trump treats women, families, endangered animals, off-shore Americans, the climate and YOU? (refer back to Social Security and Medicare references).
Best think about it.
Then go to a polling station on November 6 and help save our country, our democracy.
Or live with what you get . . .
© 2018 PETER KEELTY