Gee, that’s a nifty ball! Thanks, Vlad! If that’s the wages of sin these days, we’ve got to up the minimum wage – maybe if the Democrats ever take back Congress. Ha! I slay me.
Hi! I’m back! Anybody following this column might have wondered why I was so spookily silent during the Helsinki “summit”, at which six-foot picnic ham Donald Trump, to whom I feel an increasing urge to attach the permanent blog reporting name Peter Pumpkinhead, did his usual dance of obeisance on stage with his Russian handler.
There are a few reasons, actually.
First, I was on the road, as we drove from Toronto down to our new place in Mahone Bay, and pre-occupied with admiring the great rivers and rich agricultural land that stretched for miles and miles along the highway as we transited Quebec. The sights, and the novelty of being on a little adventure, were conducive to a different mind-set, something a little more calm, a little more philosophical maybe. Watching the endless farmland flow by, full of crops I wished I could identify, it was easy to imagine the awe that European settlers must have felt when they first clapped eyes upon the limitless opportunities of the New World, and impossible to suppress the guilty feeling that we’d had no right to simply march in and appropriate the whole continent right out from under the people who already lived here.
The history was complicated, of course. European powers made allies out of several First Nations, early on. Still, we were here to clear the land and make it our own, everyone indigenous be damned, and that’s just what we did, everywhere we went. The long, thin strips of land characteristic of the Seigneurial System were still visible in places, and I was filled with thoughts of Jean Talon, Jean-Baptist Colbert, and the endless imperial competition of the 18th century. All that stuff we took in school, and later at university, all the grand colonial mercantilist schemes that ended, as all such European endeavours seemed to end, with war and conquest, and in this case the loss of New France as part of the global Seven Years War, into which was subsumed what was called the French and Indian War over here. To think that as long ago as the late 1750s we were already able to engage in hostilities that spread across five continents, in what was actually the first World War, though I’ve never seen it referred to as such; the one that started in 1914 involved far more havoc, but fewer theatres of operation. Now here we were, over two and a half centuries later, still dealing with the repercussions of what happened on the Plains of Abraham in 1759.
Thus overwhelmed by history, I didn’t have the bandwidth to process what Donald was up to.
Second, the complete contentment of spending all those happy hours on the road with Kathy, talking about everything and anything, laughing at our little inside jokes and taking in the sights – this really is an amazing country, as beautiful as it is vast – just about put my typically belching outrage engine into mothballs. We had each other, and we had our home by the sea. What else mattered?
Third, even now that I’ve come back to earth, somewhat, and re-engaged with current affairs, I look at what happened in Finland and feel something along the lines of “yeah, that follows”. It was all perfectly in line with everything that’s happened over the past 18 months. Why was everybody so stunned? Why was this a watershed moment, supposing it was? The big dummy has been sucking up to Putin and denying Russian skullduggery from day one, and his behaviour at the NATO summit did nothing to indicate any change in approach, did it? Of course he stood there with Putin and actually called out his own nation as foolish, and his own intelligence agencies as misguided. Of course he professed to believe Vlad’s “extremely strong and powerful” denials (Vlad can be quite persuasive, you know, even absent the usual mortal threats). Sure, The Donald’s statement may have amounted to what the Atlantic opined was possibly “the most bizarre and troubling utterance by any chief executive in American history”:
– sure it was. Until the next one. So what? Trump has never been more predictably Trumpian.
Was it simply the optics – is it worse somehow, if he says it standing right next to Putin, rather than by himself in the White House rose garden? Was he somehow more obviously and cravenly a cowed Russian lickspittle? Was it some sort of revelation? The last straw? Or what?
How was this not merely business as usual?
Now, admittedly, it was perhaps a bit novel to actually skulk away for a couple of hours to speak to Vlad in secret, promising God knows what, but it’s been pointed out that when Trump makes commitments he never keeps them, and if nobody else was there to record the minutes, Donny likely won’t even remember, and anyway, just because the knucklehead says so doesn’t mean much, not when the people who actually execute policy never find out about it. Mike Pompeo said as much yesterday in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, basically urging his questioners to leave off worrying about what Trump might have said to Putin, which who knew what it was anyway, and focus instead upon actual US policy, which is the same, only, ahem, different, you follow me, nudge nudge, wink wink. Besides, I don’t think Donald was negotiating so much as being debriefed. Perhaps he was given new marching orders, and presented with a new Russian “honey do” list (as Nicolle Wallace over at MSNBC, bless her, likes to say). OK, but again: yeah, that follows.
See, the water’s up to mid-thigh at this point. It’s time to stop hollering “it’s flooding, it’s flooding!!”. Yes, I gathered that. When do we do something about it?
Never? We just stand here waiting to go under?
So the interminable carnival drags on. Everybody’s screaming, nobody’s doing anything. A snippet from one of Mikey Cohen’s tapes leaked out, sounding for all the world like John Gotti talking to Sammy “the Bull” Gravano about stuff, you know, this and that OK? – it’s not at all clear what it amounts to. More shoes to drop, no doubt. Everybody’s talking about today’s polls, as if they matter, and the coming Blue Wave, which, well, maybe, but don’t count on it just yet. The frigging Republicans just introduced a bill of impeachment – for Rod Rosenstein. Good going, guys, that should set things back on the right track! Having claimed there was no reason that Russia would interfere in an American election – sorry wouldn’t, just a slip of the tongue, folks – Trump was back to calling all such notions fake news and a hoax, except no wait a minute, the Russians were going to interfere after all, as is their wont, this time in the mid-terms on behalf of the Democrats, on account of they sure don’t want Trump (Donald said, referring to himself tweetily in the third person). But didn’t Vlad say he did want Trump, at that Helsinki presser? No, not if you look at the official White House transcript. That’s not in there at all. It must be more damnable fake news. So anyway, if there is a Blue Wave, it’s because of the Russians and not legit, right?
I just wish somebody would do something, right now.
Hey! It’s flooding!! Now it’s about up to our hips! Huh. Look, I’m just heading up to the roof to take a nap. Be a pal, and come wake me when somebody finds us a rubber raft, will you?
Update: looks like the Republicans are going to abandon the effort to impeach Rosenstein.