The Graves Registry | Alden Graves: The man with nothing to lose


I'll begin this column with an example of the lengths to which Donald Trump's apologists will go to defend the indefensible. It would be a laughable example if it weren't so pathetic.

On "Anderson Cooper 360," former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum or, as most thinking people refer to him, The Bullet We Dodged in 2012, had this to say about Trump:

"So the fact that he's not telling the truth about Russia fairly consistently, at least in the eyes of the people around here, why is that any different? I mean, it's not like he's doing something out of character with the Russia investigation, that he's not doing in other areas."

If you lie about everything, then it isn't so bad if you are lying about something specific. Some grandma should commit that one to needlepoint and it can be hung in the Oval Office for the next two years.

"Is that really the best defense you can come up with?" asked CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Santorum is one of those old guard conservative Republican types who dispense sanctimony and officious self-righteousness like thin gruel slopped into a hungry orphan's bowl. He defended his uncharacteristically accurate remark by saying that Trump's lies about his cozy relationship with the government most hostile to the interests of the United States are consistent with what he always does. The fact that a secret, suspect, and potentially treasonous relationship exists between the president of the United States and a thug at the head of the Russian government is not relevant because Donald Trump isn't veering from a well worn path of lying when it comes to collusion.

It's a little like defending Jack the Ripper because he stuck to murdering prostitutes.

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Trump supporters were incensed by recent hearings by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform during which the star attraction, convicted felon and former Trump insider (that seems to be fairly synonymous these days), Michael Cohen, pretty much raked the president over the hot coals of unvarnished truth. Mr. Cohen called Trump a "racist, a con man, and a cheat" revelations that, to most people, were only a little less startling than when Meryl's name turns up on a list of Oscar nominees.

The man who "would take a bullet for Mr. Trump" emptied the whole magazine into his former boss's portly frame. Looking haggard and sheepish, Cohen articulated personal regret that he hitched his own wagon to such a transparently disreputable star. I have no sympathy for him. He probably isn't getting half of what he deserves for his years of slavish servitude as a fixer/bully for someone so morally and ethically repugnant as Trump.

Cohen routinely threatened small business owners that Trump had stiffed with endless lawsuits. He lied to Trump's wife about her husband's squalid hook-up (affair would be too dignified a word) with a porn performer and God knows how many others and paid off the women to keep their mouths shut. He inflated Trump's worth and threatened any school that dared release his academic records That should give the public a pretty clear picture of what those records would divulge, not that listening to the man talk for two minutes doesn't tell you just as much.

There is one aspect of Mr. Cohen's testimony, however, that I have absolute faith in. Even a man who has made a fortune by bolstering and promoting the swindling and the lies of his employer will tell the truth when he has nothing left to loose. And Cohen had a further incentive because any testimony that he gave before Congress that contradicted what he had already told the Mueller investigation would put him in further jeopardy with the special counsel.

Mr. Trump returned from his much-touted meeting with his good friend Kim Jong-un in Hanoi and climbed high up on his martyr's cross to escape the shrapnel after Cohen's explosive volley. The general opinion seemed to be that the president was justified in walking away from a deal that would curtail North Korea's nuclear ambitions, but there must have been a certain amount of relief that Trump didn't concede the Grand Canyon to make himself look good.

Did you ever stop for a moment and consider what people who still support Donald Trump have to force themselves to believe? They have to regard him as some kind of pristine, unspoiled island rising above the cesspool of greed and moral debauchery that is constantly swirling around him. But, justice is finally catching up with his personal lawyer, his campaign manager, corrupt members of his cabinet, and notorious sewer habitues like Roger Stone and David Pecker.

We are assured by Mr. Trump and his sycophants that he was blissfully unaware of any patterns of problematic behavior. If it's true, that degree of epic detachment is a bad trait for a man who is supposedly leading this nation. I prefer to believe what the actor Robert Redford succinctly said about our president: "He degrades everything he touches."

Alden Graves writes a regular column for the Banner.


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