The Don Jr email exchange with his Russian-connected friends could very well be the ever-expanding crack that crumbles the Trump house of lies. But while the brash stupidity of the exchange may have been surprising, the content, by this point, was not. And neither is anything else about the Trumps’ performance as First Family.
Everyone knew Trump was a con man who bent the rules and mixed with society’s dregs. People still voted for him. And many still love the Trumps. Putin didn’t do that.
No one can accuse Trump of being different as an elected official than he was during the campaign. In fact, his consistency in this regard could be unprecedented. As he has done since Jan 20, campaign Donald lowered the discourse, lied, offended, and slammed parents with a series of unwanted teachable moments. He was sexist, racist, and generally terrible. And more than 60 million people looked at that and said, yeah … Him! Putin didn’t do that.
Putin didn’t convince us to turn the Internet’s promise of a networked future into a nonstop rage-fest in which we all sling mud (and worse) at each other from our paranoid, self-righteous silos of homogeneity.
217 members of the House voted for a historically hateful health care bill that would cut my taxes while ripping coverage out of the hands of 24 million Americans. Guess who wasn’t one of those 217 people? Putin.
Putin didn't spend the last couple decades furthering his own political fortunes by humoring mouth-breathing imbeciles who want to teach evolution as a theory and who deny climate change and think science is part of the liberal elite’s plot to pull one over them.
I don’t remember Putin coming up with the disgusting Birther campaign that cut a few decades off the Civil Rights progress we thought we had made. He also didn't see Trump use that sick, prejudiced, anti-American garbage as a launching off point for a campaign filled with similar lies, xenophobia, and racist dog whistles — and then decide to vote for the guy.
Putin didn't create the tribal nature of our politics that has become so desperate that we’ll continue to root for our team members, regardless of what they do. Collusion with the Russians? That’s bad, but not as bad as those Democrats. Go team go!
Putin didn’t turn cable news into a series of idiotic panelists faux-fighting so we’d have something to throw handfuls of popcorn at after the evening’s last WWE match was over.
When, in a single month, Trump partnered with the Saudis against terrorism, tried to partner with the Russians against cyber attacks, and sent his son-in-law to create peace in the Middle East, Putin wasn't the one who sat back on his couch and thought, “Hey, he’s really starting to look pretty presidential.”
Guess who came up with the idea of banning people from several countries from entering the US even though no one who had come from any of those countries had committed any terrorist acts? Better yet. Guess who didn’t? (Hint: Putin.)
Putin didn’t pull America out of the climate treaty. Putin didn’t cede America’s leadership role in Europe. And that fake news and hacking? Yeah, he did all that. But none of it would have had any chance of working if we didn’t have millions of silly, hateful voters that were susceptible to believing all the nonsensical bullshit.
And Putin didn’t tell thousands of sane voters in key districts to take this year off from voting because the stakes of having an epically narcissistic ignoramus as POTUS just didn’t seem pressing enough to act.
This is not an attempt to play down Russia’s efforts. It’s a justifiably huge story. And I hope those Americans who did his bidding will face justice beyond their 15 minutes of cable news humiliation.
You can blame Putin for a lot. But Putin knew one thing that more than 60 million Americans couldn’t manage to see with their own red, white and blue eyes; that Trump would be a terrible president.
That’s the one time we should have paid attention to him.