During the insanity of events this week, I found myself reading some comments on a post about Trump’s Russia summit. Someone mentioned “the pee tape”, and there was much discussion about whatever it is that Russia “has” on Donald Trump. I admit I’ve savored this line of thinking, that somewhere there’s a smoking gun, a pee tape, a recording of Trump declaring his fealty to Putin, the carefully preserved body of a hooker with Donald’s fingerprints on it, that would somehow explain his behavior.
The Pee Tape has become shorthand for expressing a desperate wish for closure. We will find this compromising evidence. It will be so clearly indicative of Trump’s crimes that it cannot be ignored even by his most excitable supporters. Perhaps it will be so damning that he’ll just resign. We won’t even have to impeach him! In it’s own odd way, the idea of the pee tape has become a security blanket. We can force ourselves to sleep with the comforting idea that somewhere, out there, is a dead hooker that will save us all.
But Trump’s behavior this week brought something into very stark relief for me. Belief in the pee tape means also believing that if Russia DIDN’T have whatever that elusive smoking gun might be, Trump would be behaving differently. If Putin didn’t have Trump by the short and curlies, Trump wouldn’t pal around with murderous dictators. Trump wouldn’t be attacking our allies. Trump would be…what, exactly?
The truth is that there’s more than enough evidence, there HAS BEEN more than enough evidence since the campaign, that Trump is all in when it comes to supporting Russia’s agenda over that of the United States. His empire is afloat on Russian money. There was a computer server in his campaign headquarters snapchatting every night with a Russian bank. His campaign manager worked as an unregistered foreign agent for anyone that paid him including the Russians.
Any one of those things, even the hint of any one of those things, would have undone any US politician previously. But, as Trump himself said, he could shoot a person in the middle of Times Square and wouldn’t lose any votes. What is a pee tape compared to what his supporters have already chosen to ignore? It’s time for us to look reality straight in the eye: whether or not there’s a pee tape is completely moot at this point. Trump isn’t Putin’s biggest cheerleader because he’s under duress. He’s Putin’s biggest cheerleader because he is all in.
Trump promotes Putin’s agenda above the interests of our country or our allies because he agrees with it. Trump behaves like a besotted fanboy around murderous dictators because he wants to join their squad. He and his minions are frolicking with fascism because they heart it and eagerly want it to take hold. Hitler didn’t need compromising information on Mussolini. Mussolini volunteered. Mussolini thought he was Hitler’s equal.
I’m not big on hyperbole or exaggeration. In fact I’ve often felt that comparing Trump to Hitler provides him a smokescreen. He’s not Hitler. He’s Donald Trump, and we have no idea what he is capable of. Donald Trump has nukes. Donald Trump has the best armed military force in the world. Donald Trump is throwing children into cages on television. What if Trump isn’t Hitler because he’s something we don’t have a name for yet?
Just as the Is he Hitler conversation can be a distraction, I’ve come to believe that the pee tape is as well. We know what the Russians “have” on Trump. They have his money, and his respect and his loyalty. He’s not compromised. He’s complicit. The question we must answer then is what do we do when we realize nothing is coming to save us? What are you freed to do if you’re not waiting for more evidence to support what you know in your gut?
Things aren’t good right now. There will not be a tidy and elegant solution. We’re off road without a map and it’s scary. But it occurs to me that I’m confident that our country is stronger than Donald Trump. We’re not going to look back one day and say we were saved by a pee tape. We will look back and see that we saved ourselves.