breaking news

'Stay off the roads,' snow and threat of ice linger

If this is OK, what isn’t OK?


The last time that we invited outsiders to participate in a purely American dispute, we were fighting the Civil War and the Confederacy was begging Great Britain to intervene on its behalf. Now we’re at it again, and it leaves me both flummoxed and deeply worried.

In this case, the outsider is Russia. Confronted by overwhelming, documented evidence that the Trump campaign at least attempted to enlist the Russian government into its cause, defenders of President Trump have retreated into an argument that amounts to “so what if they did?”

There are a lot of ways to answer that. The pragmatic response would be to point out that if you take ill-gotten information from Vladimir Putin and use it in your campaign, congratulations: You just became Putin’s pawn. With the push of a send button to his pals at Wikileaks, he can now destroy you at the moment of his choosing. He knows it and you know it.

Another way is to point out that if this identical scandal were playing out under a Democratic president, with Russian interference not just welcomed, but rewarded and encouraged with Russia-friendly policies, the GOP response would be dramatically different. Fox News would be beside itself, unleashing the furies, and the gears of impeachment would be well-oiled and turning. And I just don’t think that under those circumstances, Democrats as a whole would be rushing to defend such behavior or trying to explain that while it looks bad to invite Russia into our political disputes, it’s not illegal or criminal so it must be OK.

I just don’t see that happening.

But here’s what has me gut-sick: Healthy nations don’t do this. Americans don’t do this. We don’t invite outsiders to take part in our fights, to help us battle with fellow Americans. Elections are fought and settled here, right here, within the family. It’s about us, not them. If our internal battles have become so heated that it is now acceptable to call in third parties to help your side win — even third parties that have historically been our nation’s adversaries — then we have lost something important.

That transformation is all the more startling because it comes from a party and president that in every other context claims to be deeply nationalistic.

According to the “America First!” crowd, we need The Wall to preserve the sanctity of our border. We need stringent election laws to ensure that only U.S. citizens vote, to guard against even a tiny possibility that some illegal immigrant somewhere might violate the purity of the ballot box. We also want no restrictions placed on us by international agreements that might impinge on our national sovereignty, while immigration bans and trade barriers are the executive order of the day.

“We want to build with American workers, and with American iron, aluminum and steel….Buy American, and hire American,” as President Trump recently put it. “We have sent a clear message to the world that we will not allow other nations to take advantage of us any longer.”

Yet somehow, when it comes to outsourcing of opposition research to the intelligence agencies of foreign adversaries, it’s stunning to see that obsessive concern for national sovereignty just evaporate. If an immigrant dares to vote illegally, we sentence her to years in prison, but if an entire country picks a side in our election and actively tries to intervene, we’re told it’s no big deal.

If that’s OK, what isn’t OK? What’s left?



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Trump, meet a hero whom you maligned

In 1885, a poor, uneducated 16-year-old boy arrived in our country from Germany at a time when immigrants were often looked down on by affluent Americans. This boy was ambitious and entrepreneurial, and, despite language problems, he earned some money and then traveled up to the Klondike during the gold rush to operate a hotel that became notorious...
Opinion: Republicans must lead in upcoming abortion debate

This year, as every year, I will be joining the hundreds of thousands who will be arriving in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life, noting the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion on demand in our country. The event has taken place every year since 1973 and will continue to take place every year until this disastrous...
Opinion: We have a racist in the White House

For U.S. Sen. David Perdue, memory works in a very odd way. Or so he claims. Last Friday, Perdue and a colleague, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, told the world that they “do not recall” racist comments made a day earlier by President Trump in an immigration meeting. That lack of recollection seemed astonishing. In that meeting, Trump...
Readers Write: Jan. 17

Litter disrespects entire communities You know the idiom about the canary in the coal mine? Miners would carry caged canaries down in the mine tunnels. If hazardous atmosphere was encountered, the canary would show symptoms before the miners, serving as a warning sign for their safety. Could it be that litter is our canary in the coal mine? Throughout...
On the left, the deal for the Dreamers should be the only thing that matters
On the left, the deal for the Dreamers should be the only thing that matters

Should you care about giving in on a wall if those under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals get to stay in this country? A roundup of editorials Tuesday takes a look at the issue. From The Los Angeles Times: Fixing DACA has become a fight to cover both parties sins when it comes to illegal immigration.   From U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar...
More Stories