Tuesday, July 18, 2017


A Wall Street Journal editorial titled "The Trumps and the Truth" is inspiring responses like this:
The Wall Street Journal unloaded on President Donald Trump late Monday night, lambasting the president for being mired in an investigation into Russian involvement in his campaign and for continually hiding damaging details that inevitably are leaked.

Following a weekend when Trump’s attorney attempted to put out the fire – and failed spectacularly — the Journal editorial board finally had enough....

The Journal ... brought the heat....
So the Wall Street Journal editorial board is now part of the resistance? Not exactly. Here's the gist of the editorial:
Even if the ultimate truth of this tale is merely that Don Jr. is a political dunce who took a meeting that went nowhere—the best case—the Trumps made it appear as if they have something to hide. They have created the appearance of a conspiracy that on the evidence Don Jr. lacks the wit to concoct. And they handed their opponents another of the swords that by now could arm a Roman legion.

... [Trump attorney Ty] Cobb has an opening to change the Trump strategy to one with the best chance of saving his Presidency: radical transparency. Release everything to the public ahead of the inevitable leaks. Mr. Cobb and his team should tell every Trump family member, campaign operative and White House aide to disclose every detail that might be relevant to the Russian investigations.

... If there really is nothing to the Russia collusion allegations, transparency will prove it.

... If Mr. Trump’s approval rating stays under 40% into next year, Republicans will begin to separate themselves from an unpopular President in a (probably forlorn) attempt to save their majorities in Congress. If Democrats win the House, the investigations into every aspect of the Trump business empire, the 2016 campaign and the Administration will multiply. Impeachment will be a constant undercurrent if not an active threat. His supporters will become demoralized.
The Journal ed board isn't distancing itself from Trump -- it's trying to save his presidency, and save America from the nightmarish descent into the abyss that it believes will inevitably result from a Democratic takeover of the House. ("His supporters will become demoralized" -- oh, the humanity!) It hopes to prevent this cataclysm by saving Trump from what it thinks are his worst instincts. (If only the urge to conceal were the worst of Trump's instincts.)

As Jonathan Chait notes, the board doesn't weigh the notion that Team Trump is concealing the truth for a reason:
Nowhere in the editorial does the Journal consider the possibility that Trump and his inner circle have lied systematically about the contacts with Russia because they have something to hide. “Whatever short-term political damage this might cause couldn’t be worse than the death by a thousand cuts of selective leaks, often out of context, from political opponents in Congress or the special counsel’s office,” the editorial asserts. But what if the truth is really bad? The Journal does not say.

“If there really is nothing to the Russia collusion allegations,” the editorial posits, “transparency will prove it.” That is true! But what if, as now appears overwhelmingly probable, there isn’t nothing to the Russia collusion allegation? Well, the editorial doesn’t say. It just moves on to other questions.
So this is the current pro-Trump fallback position: Trump is an innocent man who has the potential to be a great president, but he's being hounded by the Javerts of the Democratic Party, the media, and the Deep State, and his response -- regrettably, bafflingly -- is to hide the truth. Like his tendency to tweet too much, it's just one of the rare flaws in his otherwise shining character.

This is going to become the standard line for Trump defenders. Here's what Senator John Thune said on CNN after being read excerpts of the editorial:
" ... To me, the administration is served by getting everything out there and being as transparent as they possibly can. Because, this issue, in order for it to go away, I think that is the best way to just cleanse it, and get it out there, and let the American people decide.”

“More transparency is good,” he added.

“More transparent than they are now?” [CNN's John] Berman asked.

“I think there has been a reluctance for whatever reason, I think, by the administration, in some cases, to get all the information out there, and I think they’re well served to do that, frankly,” Thune replied. “My guess is that they’ll probably find — and the intelligence committees and the others that have looked at this have not found any evidence of collusion to this point, and I think that the administration would be able to turn that page and move forward and focus on other things if they would get this issue behind them. And I think that that sort of transparency would enable that to happen.”
Yeah, that'll do it! No, really!

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