Trump's hilarious joke about treason wasn't funny

As he has boasted, President Donald Trump has the best words -- so good they are beyond meaning.On Monday, ...

Posted: Feb 7, 2018 8:06 AM
Updated: Feb 7, 2018 8:06 AM

As he has boasted, President Donald Trump has the best words -- so good they are beyond meaning.

On Monday, he said that Democrats who didn't applaud during his State of the Union address were potentially committing "treason." He said, with a shrug: "Can we call that treason? Why not?" because "they certainly didn't seem to love our country very much."

Of course, the definition of "treason" is not lack of affection for one's country, but the act of seeking to undermine and betray it. And never mind that it's not the country that Democrats refused to applaud, but its current deficient leader. In Trump's world, he's the most special man-boy in America, deserving of all the applause simply for showing up.

Trump's press secretary Sarah Sanders said later that Trump was just, you know, goofing around-- "clearly joking," she said -- when he publicly, before the cameras, called sitting members of Congress treasonous.

Here's one thing that would be potentially treasonous: colluding with a foreign power to win an election. Whether the Trump campaign was involved in such collusion during the 2016 presidential election is among the subjects special counsel Robert Mueller is exploring.

There is no room for "joking" about meaning here: a flexible relationship with the truth is a major problem when a serial liar is a President.

Consider this bizarre bit of news: according to a report in The New York Times on Monday, Trump's lawyers are reportedly trying to keep him from speaking with Mueller. They are apparently not just worried that Trump could incriminate himself by admitting something he's actually done wrong, but that he might simply lie to investigators --play fast and loose with words and truth, as he does so reflexively -- and land himself in serious trouble.

Part of what makes a democracy function is trust -- in our institutions and in our leaders -- and a belief that our institutions will fill in the gaps where leaders show a lack. Trump has upended that trust, working to gut the administrative state, undermining international confidence in American power and stability, and corroding American confidence in law enforcement, the judiciary and the value of American democracy.

Leaders overseas don't know when they can believe what he says; how can anyone negotiate with a President like that? Americans at home have learned, like Pavlov's dogs, to meet his lies and wild accusations with a shrug (and a growing sense of dread, if they're liberals) or with enthusiastic salivation (if they're members of Trump's reactionary base).

It doesn't matter whether Trump is intentionally deceitful, cognitively impaired, or simply has never suffered consequences from his stated falsehoods and so doesn't care enough to bother with truth; an American president who cannot be taken at his word is a danger to the world.

Not that trying to take Trump at his word is any better. It should scare the pants off us when a President who has already shown authoritarian impulses accuses his opponents of treason for declining to applaud him.

Refusing to applaud an idea you disagree with is one of the most basic expressions of free speech, itself a fundamental American value, right there in the very first amendment to our Constitution.

Trump certainly used his freedom of speech (and freedom of Twitter) to criticize his predecessor, President Barack Obama. Trump, in fact, repeated a series of vicious lies about him, including that Obama wasn't born in the United States. (Can you imagine Obama responding like the thin-skinned Trump to a cool partisan reception at the State of the Union?)

Trump's untruths and unhinged remarks are so ubiquitous that only the really crazy ones break through the media noise.

What a sad state we're all in, when we've accepted this as normal from our leader -- and when, worst of all, Republicans go right along with the madness and the lies, patting our little boy President on the head and telling him he's doing a good job, that his words are the best words, that he doesn't need to do big boy things like take responsibility for his actions quite yet. That he deserves a trophy just for participating at all.

November 2020 is closer each day, and unlike our President, election results don't lie.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751242

Reported Deaths: 13795
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1032931788
Lake556911009
Allen41692692
St. Joseph36990565
Hamilton36588417
Elkhart29398461
Tippecanoe22901226
Vanderburgh22556400
Porter19356325
Johnson18471389
Hendricks17682317
Clark13226195
Madison13149344
Vigo12614253
LaPorte12419221
Monroe12207176
Delaware10966198
Howard10321225
Kosciusko9630121
Hancock8576146
Bartholomew8169157
Warrick7860156
Floyd7811180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6966103
Morgan6761141
Dubois6218118
Marshall6209116
Cass6016110
Henry5900110
Dearborn589878
Noble581488
Jackson509076
Shelby501496
Lawrence4742122
Gibson444894
Clinton442355
Harrison441875
DeKalb439885
Montgomery438090
Whitley406543
Huntington402681
Steuben400159
Miami395269
Jasper388054
Knox375991
Putnam372960
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Jefferson335886
White331953
Daviess3033100
Wells295281
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246036
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228058
Fountain220948
Sullivan214643
Owen211858
Fulton202942
Jay200932
Carroll193620
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion174844
Franklin170335
Tipton166246
Parke149416
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120647
Newton113936
Brown104243
Crawford102516
Benton101714
Martin91715
Warren84015
Switzerland8148
Union72810
Ohio57911
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108902

Reported Deaths: 20166
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1287491467
Cuyahoga1158082211
Hamilton814091250
Montgomery525571043
Summit484351001
Lucas43359820
Butler39018606
Stark33338929
Lorain25675505
Warren24595303
Mahoning22376603
Lake21211388
Clermont20124253
Delaware18856136
Licking16663222
Fairfield16576204
Trumbull16551482
Medina15612271
Greene15284248
Clark14237306
Wood13292200
Portage13251215
Allen11914239
Richland11607211
Miami10849225
Wayne9146223
Columbiana9034230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8650250
Marion8642138
Erie8056165
Ashtabula7161179
Hancock6999132
Ross6945161
Geauga6838151
Scioto6534106
Belmont6157174
Union584649
Lawrence5732102
Jefferson5679158
Huron5546122
Sandusky5442126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5320109
Athens523960
Auglaize502187
Mercer487385
Shelby476895
Knox4572112
Madison444366
Ashland435797
Putnam4336103
Defiance432399
Fulton432174
Crawford4040110
Brown402461
Logan387677
Preble3856105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373681
Highland359865
Williams348278
Champaign344859
Guernsey324953
Jackson318254
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin275365
Henry273467
Holmes2702101
Coshocton269060
Van Wert247264
Adams243256
Pike242835
Gallia240750
Wyandot234556
Hocking220563
Carroll197348
Paulding176542
Meigs148440
Monroe136344
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
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