Op-ed: Junior’s shameful conduct laid bare
Remember the NBC show “To Catch A Predator”?
The format: Some sleazebag emails his way into the home of someone he believes is an underage potential sex partner, and as he sits in the dark with his undies around his ankles, suddenly the door bursts open and in storms host Chris Hansen and a camera crew, catching the perv in his naked shame. Remember?
Well, that’s what just happened to Donald Trump Jr.
No, Junior didn’t actually get any Russian intel on Hillary Clinton (as far as we know). Nor did he consummate the act of collusion (ditto). But Lil’ Donald was hot for a Russian hookup and didn’t care if Vladimir Putin was the one pimping it out. And because he’s so smart, Junior said as much in an email.
Chris Hansen, that’s your cue …
Now, how do you take this humiliating moment and make it worse?
Imagine a crowd outside the would-be crime scene shouting “We’re with the perp! He didn’t technically break the law!”
They, my Trump-defending friends, would be you.
There’s a point where Hillary hatred — as legitimate and fact-based as it may be — simply isn’t enough. And that point is somewhere on the other side of the line of, “Hey, let’s secretly meet with someone who announces they’re part of the Putin regime’s scheme to screw with America’s election!”
The argument that “Trump is bad, but Hillary is worse” is a reasonable one. But to make that argument, one must start by actually acknowledging that Trump is bad. And a team that would respond to an offer of information that represents “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” with “I love it!” — is really, really bad.
During two decades of writing about the Clintons, I repeated the same line: “When corrupt people are showing you their true character, shut up and listen.”
Well, if you’re a conservative who is still defending Donald Trump — just shut up.
Shut up before you start sounding like all the Clintonistas who insisted that a married 50-something boss hooking up with an intern in the Oval Office was no big deal; that selling access to the Lincoln bedroom was legit; that taking millions in foreign money (for “charity”) while overseeing U.S. foreign policy was just fine. Shut up before you become the same “character doesn’t count, politics-uber-alles” swamp creatures you claim to hate.
And please — enough with the “It’s the media” excuse-making. Yes, the media despises The Donald. The same journalists who carried water for Barack Obama are now dumping poorly-sourced sewage on President Trump.
But unlike “To Catch A Predator,” Junior’s email trap wasn’t set by the press. Those emails aren’t a “fake but accurate” Dan Rather special. This is Team Trump showing you its true character yet again.
So why are you defending them? Why are you selling out your own credibility by claiming Trump is something other than the bumbling, corrupt, uninformed, self-absorbed, thin-skinned bully he has been every minute of every day since he came down the Trump Tower escalator two years ago?
Telling the truth about Trump isn’t defending the Democrats. It’s defending you.
Your reputation. Your ability to advocate for the ideas you believe in — because you still have the standing to make your case.
It may be that honesty and dignity and true patriotism (aka “refusing to help Russia undermine our democracy”) will never matter again in American politics. Maybe the Trumpies are right: “We’re all Clintons now. It’s the only way to win.”
But if they’re right … have we really won?
Michael Graham is a writer and broadcaster in Washington, D.C.