The United States has entered a strange new world. Americans have never been here before because they have never had a president like this before. Michael Harris writes:
In the wake of the Surrender Summit, the president was variously called: a bumbling ingenue; a psychiatric study; a preposterous liar; a useful idiot; a national disgrace; a Putin groupie; a Russian intelligence asset; and a presidential traitor.
Some of these epithets were hurled at him by members of his own party.
It was a real life play -- a 21st Century version of The Comedy of Errors:
Standing beside Vladimir Putin this week, Trump once again chose Putin’s denial of interfering in the 2016 election over the documented conclusions of his own intelligence agencies.
Although Trump had been briefed in detail on the recent indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers who hacked into the election, he spoke of Putin’s “strong” and “powerful” denial. He even said that he couldn’t think of any reason Russia “would” do such a thing, a deadly ad lib that clearly threw American intelligence under the bus.
Both Republican congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, rebuked their leader. Dan Coats, Trump’s national intelligence director, flatly contradicted the president in a statement not vetted by the White House: without doubt, and despite Putin’s lies, Russia had hacked the 2016 U.S. election. American intelligence, Coats said, was dead right in its assessment and would continue to burrow into Russia’s continuing attacks on the United States.
Thus was born the “double-negative” defence. Faced with wildfires raging in Congress and a curtain of smoke rising from his hitherto non-flammable base, Trump’s team made him read what they hilariously billed as a “clarification.”
Here’s how it worked. Where Trump had in reality said the word “would” in his Helsinki comments, the president now said he had actually meant to say he couldn’t think of any reason why Russia “wouldn’t” have done the hacking.
It was the full whiplash for Trumpland.
And the Republicans bought it. Conservative foreign affairs analyst Max Boot wrote in The Washington Post that the Republicans had gone from "criticising useful idiots to being useful idiots."
Which raises the question: "How many useful idiots are there in the United States?"
Image: National Review