So many rules of reason breached; so little space to dissect them all.
As I’ve written before, there is no weaker argument form than the old, “But what about …?” That’s right in league with “I know you are but what am I.” Yet this is the argument form Trump apologists consistently employ when confronted with evidence of Trump-Russia collusion (or any other inconvenient reality). It’s no wonder; after all, Republicans have used this tact for decades: “What about [select one: Monica; the blue dress; Benghazi; the emails; blah blah blah]?”
Now it’s Ukraine. Finally dropping the now-preposterous pretense that the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russians in any way, Team Trump has reverted to form, blowing chaff out its collective ass crack in the hope that an easily distracted media will chase the stink and lose its lock on the obvious target: a scandal that could rank among the biggest in American political history.
For the past 36 hours or so, Trump’s cable-news goon squad has repeatedly responded to questions about the lustful, carnal embrace between Trump and Putin with, “Well what about Ukraine and the DNC?” This has been an apparent reference to unsubstantiated allegations – heretofore unnoticed by that blind old dog known as the GOP, but suddenly of great apparent import since Trump Junior caught his pinky in his zipper – that someone from the Democratic National Committee asked someone from Ukraine during the 2016 campaign to shed some light on the already widely reported nefarious international frolicking of that silky-voiced criminal Paul Manafort. That’s just like Trump and his family getting into bed with a murderous kleptocrat who’s actively trying to destroy America’s most bedrock institutions and its standing in the world. Isn’t that obvious?
I tell law students that their training in logic and reasoning started long before law school – when they were three or four – the first time they saw and were able to comprehend the Sesame Street segment, “Which one of these is not like the others?” (Their training in the Constitution started just a bit later – with School House Rock.) We lawyers make a living convincing judges that our cases are just like all those other case where clients just like ours . . . won – and, of course, that our cases are nothing at all like all those other cases where clients just like ours . . . lost. We call it analogical reasoning, a fancy term we use to obscure the embarrassing simplicity of what it is that we do.
That’s right: it’s so simple that it’s embarrassing. It’s a feat that can be undertaken by little Sally and Sammy whilst they are still bespattering their bums. But alas, it is beyond the aptitude of the average teabagger. It turns out that for the entire Republican Party – or at least Trump hangers-on – it’s been a long cognitive slide in the wrong direction since the days of Sesame Street. If you showed a bagger a drawing of a bear, a kangaroo, an anteater, and a handsaw and asked which one was not like others, he’d say, “Errrr, duhhh, that there dudgern anteater, on accounta th’otheruns all have teeth.”
It’s this same lot that thinks Ukraine is just like Russia where collusion is concerned. I must have missed the year-long story about how Ukraine had launched the biggest cyber-attack in the history of cyber-attacks to hack into private American email servers; develop massive databases of stolen material; dump intel through a criminal enterprise called Wikileaks in amounts and at times meticulously designed to cause maximum disruption to US political processes and dynamics; coordinate widespread and carefully targeted disinformation and fake news campaigns on social media platforms with uncanny electoral precision; wreak chaos in the United States and all over Europe; and install a compromised stooge atop the US power structure for the purpose of ending the era of US world leadership and, in large measure, the whole global “American Experiment.” Did I miss that story?
I must also have missed all the stories about Hillary Clinton and her family financing not just some noble charity that has saved thousands of children’s lives, but their own fraudulent, money-laundering, duplicitous rackets with money from Ukraine – and of course all those stories about the last 30-plus years’ worth of tax returns that the Clintons never released because they were hiding their ties to Ukraine.
I missed that story about how it wasn’t just some middling bureaucrat from the DNC who allegedly had a chat with some Ukrainian pencil-pusher to check out widely reported stories about a Republican campaign official, but rather how – BOMBSHELL ALERT! – Chelsea Clinton herself, for Christ’s sake, was busted meeting with a Ukraine government spook offering to help the Clintons take down a candidate for president himself in exchange for a few minor policy tweaks – you know, like acceding to an enemy state’s every whim – once the attack on US institutions had succeeded in sewing havoc throughout the entire free world. Yeah, I missed that story, too.
And I must have had amnesia through my entire formative existence, because I missed all those many years during which we all understood that it was Ukraine that had been the existential threat to the United States since the end of World War II. While in my decades-long coma, I dreamt that is had been Russia – or its alter ego, the Soviet Union.
If I somehow managed to miss all THAT, then Trumpsters have a point: some DNC stiff talking to a Ukrainian bureaucrat about Paul Manafort was just like smoking-gun proof that Donald Trump’s eldest child and namesake conspired to participate in an attack by Russia upon the United States.