It was at once the most astounding and easiest-to-answer question ever posed to an American president: "Are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?"
That's a yes-or-no answer, with "no" being the preferred option. Unless you're Donald Trump, in which case you say, "I think it's the most insulting thing I've ever been asked. I think it's the most insulting article I've ever had written. And if you read the article, you'd see that they found absolutely nothing."
"They" was a reference to The New York Times, which published an article reporting that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey. The article said the secret investigation was passed on to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed in the wake of Comey's firing.
Back to the question. It was posed not in a challenging way and not by an antagonistic interviewer. Rather, it came from someone Trump picked himself, "Judge" Jeanine Pirro, who is not only his most vocal supporter at Fox News, but someone who gives the impression she would satisfy pretty much any favors the Donald would like in return for a position in his cabinet. Say attorney general. Even solicitor general.
But in his eagerness to defend himself and insult the sources of the question, to engage in his usual deflection, Trump never just said the obvious: "No." He got around to that a day later ("I never worked for Russia," he said.) after virtually everyone on Twitter and some White House aides who have not been furloughed because he shut the government down pointed out the glaring omission.
And so here we are. A TV commentator has, on the air, asked the president of the United States (a phrase I reluctantly attach to Trump for the sake of accuracy) if he is, in effect, a traitor.
Maybe it's just me, but I think that is extraordinary. Even more extraordinary is that virtually no one in his political party seems to have an opinion on this at least not publicly and two days later the big story was Trump serving fast-food burgers and fries at the White House to the national college football champions from Clemson University, because apparently that's what he thinks finely tuned athletes, whose diets are monitored, eat routinely. Never mind the insult.
I write this, not in the hopes of convincing any suddenly awakening Trump supporters of the unrelenting awfulness of the man, never mind being the only president to ever be asked if he is a traitor. That time has passed. No, this is selfish. If it's true that nothing ever disappears from the Internet, I want future browsers and historians to know that some of us saw what was going on and spoke out about it while others buried their heads in the sands of delusion or lined their pockets with the bitter fruits of enabling (Republicans) and exploitation (evangelicals).
I also want the Greater Consciousness to know I did my part in promoting peace, love and understanding. And yes, I know it knows, but I somehow feel better putting it in writing.
And, covering all bets, I want the Kirk Cameron "Left Behind" evangelicals waiting for the Rapture to know that my version of it has the guy with the MAGA bumper sticker who tosses beer cans on my lawn one day noticing a pile of clothes wrinkled jeans, a black hoodie and a gray knit cap lying in the driveway while I enjoy another balmy day in Heaven, watching reruns of the Trump impeachment hearings, eating tacos and listening to Sinatra.
Finally, it seems fitting to me if, many millennia from now, the dominant beings, whatever they might be, discover this ancient form of communication, decipher it, and conclude, "Once upon a time, a species known as human beings ruled Earth when it was abundant with riches. For some reason, they chose the most ignorant, ill-equipped, amoral person to be their leader. They were difficult times. Ugliness abounded. Only the persistent efforts of some outspoken humans saved the planet."
I may be angry and astounded, but I still prefer happy endings.
(Article changed on January 16, 2019 at 03:40)