Monday, December 17, 2018

Mr. President: How do you spell 'crock'?

           Similarities between Watergate and the slime-storm swirling around Donald Trump continue to stack up.

            It was there in the Dec. 10 tweet from the misspeller-in-chief: "No Smocking Gun. No collusion."

            Highly reminiscent, this is, of Richard Nixon's Nov. 17, 1973 claim, "I am not a crock."

            (OK. Let's not defame the dead. Nixon was a crook, but at least he could spell the word.)

            Yes, the Watergate parallels are staggering – starting with respective break-ins to steal from the Democratic National Committee – one with screwdrivers, one with Russian hackers.

            Then there were firings and intimidation to thwart a criminal investigation. Although Nixon never went around intimating pardons for those who didn't sing to prosecutors.

            Then there were the lies. Oh, and the supporters who didn't want to hear the truth.

            One who listened intently during the Watergate episode heard Nixon supporters in full throat for a time, ultimately resigned to mumbling about plots by liberals and, of course, the cursed media.

            Sen. Orrin Hatch most assuredly was one then. Now he makes a reprise in his depiction of blind loyalty:

            "The Democrats will do anything to hurt this president," he told a CNN interviewer.

            When the interviewer pointed out that Democrats aren't behind the criminal probes bearing down on Trump, Hatch said, "OK, but I don't care. All I can say is he's doing a good job as president."

            Mumble, mumble.

            Hatch speaks for many, of course. I'm going to ask those Americans if it was they of whom Trump was speaking when he said he could stand on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not lose their support.

            Those people today are saying that a man who worked for Trump for 10 years, Michael Cohen, doesn't know what he's talking about when letting us know what Trump knows and does.

            "No collusion," says Trump.

            "Nothing at the Trump organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump," says Cohen. Believe him.

            That would include the Trump Tower meeting with Russians. That would include Michael Flynn's pre-election promise to ease sanctions on Russia. That would include non-traceable hush money and "catch and kill" arrangements with a tabloid.

            As with Watergate, we even have tapes to affirm some suspicions.

            Yet, the rationalizations, echoes of Nixon-supporter grumbles, continue.

            How foolish Nixon's spokespersons look in hindsight, Ron Ziegler classifying Watergate as a "third-rate burglary" and the Washington Post of trying to "stretch (the burglary) beyond what it is."

            Yes, the enemy of the people – truth.

            Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway – the Disinformation Sisters – have lined themselves up to be remembered in history books in ways they don't desire.

            Non-Trump-aligned observers wonder, "How can they do it?"

            Good question. But the same question applies to all Americans who recite the Hatch oath each morning in the bathroom mirror: "I don't care. He's doing a good job."

            When it comes to lying, Trump is proving Nixon to be a piker. Indeed, he is executing a master strategy in which he makes falsehoods so plentiful as to cause minds to shut down.

            "Textbook Trump," explains a Washington Post commentary: "Tell one version of events until it falls apart, then tell a new version and so on – until the danger passes."

            Fortunately for the country, the brain-shutdown effect has not impaired Robert Mueller's team or the federal investigators in New York's Southern District.

            It's staggering. We now have investigations into Trump's campaign, his transition team, his foundation, inaugural committee and his presidency.

            And as Don Jr. knows full well, if he lied to Congress (what are the odds?), add the president's family to the list.

            Again, Sen. Hatch, the Democrats in Congress have had no hand in this. They will be in a position to lend a hand soon, however.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

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