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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 7:06 AM
Updated: Feb 7, 2018 7:06 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61125

Reported Deaths: 1711
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5209106
DeSoto328027
Madison228154
Rankin212428
Harrison209832
Jackson192934
Jones176557
Forrest163153
Washington148032
Lauderdale132388
Lee123230
Neshoba119487
Lamar111512
Oktibbeha105235
Lowndes97332
Warren96426
Scott95317
Bolivar93932
Copiah90924
Panola90711
Sunflower90622
Lafayette8699
Holmes84347
Leflore83259
Pike82632
Grenada81220
Yazoo77311
Leake76725
Lincoln74339
Wayne73221
Pontotoc7247
Simpson71126
Monroe69750
Coahoma65910
Tate64523
Marion59918
Adams58025
Covington57811
Winston57115
Marshall5668
George5415
Union51913
Newton51611
Attala49524
Tallahatchie49310
Pearl River48236
Walthall44218
Chickasaw43519
Noxubee41710
Claiborne40013
Smith37713
Jasper3758
Calhoun3748
Clay36814
Alcorn3544
Prentiss3376
Hancock32614
Tishomingo3163
Yalobusha31610
Lawrence3135
Itawamba30710
Tippah30412
Clarke29825
Montgomery2913
Humphreys26911
Tunica2656
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Kemper22315
Perry2217
Quitman2211
Amite2105
Jefferson Davis1986
Webster19712
Jefferson1916
Wilkinson18712
Sharkey1801
Stone1483
Choctaw1264
Benton1240
Franklin1142
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 89927

Reported Deaths: 1580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11650225
Mobile8998191
Montgomery6198143
Madison493225
Tuscaloosa391263
Baldwin317522
Shelby300232
Marshall294730
Unassigned263351
Lee249140
Morgan220615
Etowah191425
DeKalb167713
Elmore158437
Calhoun15359
Walker145763
Houston130912
Dallas128023
Russell12201
Franklin118420
Limestone118313
St. Clair118212
Cullman111311
Colbert107612
Lauderdale105312
Autauga101020
Escambia96515
Talladega89013
Jackson8163
Chambers81438
Tallapoosa80478
Dale77619
Butler75135
Blount7223
Covington70420
Coffee7035
Chilton6976
Pike6547
Barbour5625
Lowndes54624
Marion53524
Marengo51514
Clarke4849
Hale44925
Bullock43711
Perry4284
Winston42811
Wilcox4029
Monroe3884
Randolph38810
Conecuh37110
Bibb3643
Pickens3639
Sumter36118
Washington31011
Macon30813
Lawrence3060
Crenshaw2843
Choctaw27312
Henry2433
Greene24011
Cherokee2337
Geneva2260
Clay2165
Lamar1942
Fayette1695
Cleburne1141
Coosa902
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