An editorial in the Washington Post Sunday imagined how Americans might respond if President George W. Bush had approached the 9/11 terrorist attack in the same manner as President Donald Trump has responded to the Russian attack on our democracy.
The picture painted is one that Americans would no doubt find disturbing, perhaps even laughable due to the sheer ridiculousness of the notion.
But the current president of the United States is actually responding with indifference to election meddling by a foreign adversary - and that is no laughing matter.
Imagine if, after 9/11, the president had said that the World Trade Center and Pentagon could have been attacked by “China” or “lots of other people.” Imagine if he had dismissed claims of al-Qaeda’s responsibility as a “hoax” and said that he “really” believed Osama bin Laden’s denials. Imagine if he saw the attack primarily as a political embarrassment to be minimized rather than as a national security threat to be combated. Imagine if he threatened to fire the investigators trying to find out what happened.
Imagine, moreover, if the president refused to appoint a commission to study how to safeguard America. Imagine if, as a result, we did not harden cockpit doors. If we did not create a Transportation Security Administration and a Department of Homeland Security. If we did not lower barriers between law enforcement and intelligence. If we did not pass a USA Patriot Act to enhance surveillance. And if we did not take myriad other steps to prevent another 9/11.
This is the state of Trump's approach to Russia - the second-worst attack on the U.S. in the past twenty years - and it is far less than what Americans would expect from their country's Commander in Chief.
No Americans were killed as Russia weaseled its way into U.S. subconsciousness, but American democracy was put at risk and continues to be under threat.
Where is our president, especially now that his very own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster has deemed it "incontrovertible" that Russia indeed meddled in U.S. elections?
[I]n a disturbing weekend tweetstorm, President Trump attacked the FBI, Democrats, even McMaster — anyone but the Russians. He sought to minimize the impact of the Kremlin’s intrusion, tweeting: “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!”
Actually, there’s plenty of evidence of collusion, including the infamous June 2016 meeting that Trump’s son, son-in-law and campaign manager held with Russian representatives who promised to “incriminate” Hillary Clinton.
At a time when our nation requires a strong and bipartisan effort to thwart foreign interference in our democratic processes, the president finds himself unable to admit the problem, let alone take the lead in addressing it.
And that leaves us with the question of why:
The most benign explanation is that he is putting his vanity — he can’t have anything taint his glorious victory — above his obligation to “protect and defend the Constitution.” The more sinister hypothesis is that he has something to hide and, having benefited from Russia’s assistance once, hopes for more aid in 2018 and 2020. Either way, we are at war without a commander in chief.