By Gloria Borger, CNN Chief Political Analyst
Back in the day when Donald Trump was just a problem child, he wound up in detention so much after school that his classmates began calling it the DT’s. The Detention Club became his special place.
Decades later, in 2016, when Trump was elected president, he automatically became a member of another club, the Presidents’ Club.
That was not his special place. No one named it for him. In fact, his bombast and lying made him unwelcome with the ex-presidents, who couldn’t believe they were in the same club with this guy.
But not to worry. Trump is comfy again, back leading detention. He’s happier with a fellow thug like Russian President Vladimir Putin than with the leaders of democratic nations. Happier to lie and accept lies rather than tell the truth and accept the truth.
And, above all, unconcerned about anything beyond himself and his money and some sort of perceived personal success, whatever that means. (It means not admitting you lost an election, for starters.)
Former President George W. Bush condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified invasion” of Ukraine, expressing solidarity with “our friend and democratic ally” against Putin’s thuggery. Ditto for former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Former President Barack Obama said Russia acted “in violation of international law and basic principles of human decency.”
Trump stood alone, outside, a caricature of himself (which, admittedly, is hard to imagine), calling Putin’s xenophobic and dangerous actions “genius. … Here’s a guy who’s very savvy. … I know him very well.”
Over the days and hours, it actually got worse. Trump’s minions encouraged his geopolitical garbage and excuses to flourish. A favorite: This never would have happened during my administration.
Let’s see: Well, maybe it wouldn’t because you were already doing Putin’s bidding. Maybe it’s because you were very busy trying to destroy NATO as Putin happily watched. And could it be that you were too busy blackmailing the Ukrainian President to get dirt on Joe Biden so you could win reelection? Which, of course, you did not. Let’s say that again: You did not win.
It would be comical if it weren’t so pathetic to watch Trump describe recent events as the results of a rigged election. So now Trump fealty comes down to a three-legged stool: The election was rigged, the insurrection was fine and Putin is a genius. Oh, and Biden is bad. No matter what.
So Republicans who found countless ways to avoid commenting on Trump’s genuflecting toward Putin (like famously saying in 2018 that he believed Putin over US intelligence that Russia had meddled in the 2016 election: “He just said it’s not Russia. … I don’t see any reason why it would be.”) are now calling for stronger sanctions. Um, has Congress passed the sanctions yet? Nope.
And those who remain in the do-nothing, isolationist camp will just stay there. Trump provides them comfort, too. It’s never about democracy or leadership or responsibility. It’s about an amoral sense of short-term gain. So root against America, because its morality has made it weak.
So that is now what it has come down to for all the worshippers of Trump’s brand of political expedience: Do not worry about Putin or Ukraine. Just go ahead and win the House, maybe the Senate.
As for the ex-Presidents’ Club, send them to detention.
This story has been updated with further developments.
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