Did you see what Vladimir Putin did? He said he wanted Trump to be president. Then he denied meddling in our election. The two things can certainly be true at the same time, if only we didn't have overwhelming evidence that he meddled. We can also deduce from the evidence that Putin didn't care if Trump won or lost, as long as America was politically divided and focused on fantasies of vengeance and stolen elections.
I've heard it a bunch of times since yesterday: Trump colluded with Russia. He committed treason! Putin must have something on him. Trump stole the election! Why aren't the generals overthrowing him?
Do people even know what they're saying? They're advocating for a putsch. They're dredging up 18-month old conspiracy theories that have been investigated thoroughly by the FBI, the intelligence community, Robert Mueller's team, and both Senate and House intelligence committees. None of these investigations have found evidence of Trump colluding with Russia. None of them found evidence that a single vote was "stolen" or hacked by the Russians.
In 2008, I remember the feeling when Barack Obama won the presidency. It was not a good feeling. I felt we conservatives were in for a lot of stinging, and my feelings proved correct. We ended up with Obamacare literally shoved down our throats without a single Republican vote. We ended up with a president who meddled in race relations, gun control, and foreign relations in a way that divided America more than 20 years of Reagan/Bush/Bush ever did. (The Clinton years only flourished when New Gingrich and his Contract with America inspired cooperation between the GOP Congress and the Democratic White House.)
But eight years of Obama were marked by tin-foil hat theories about his birth, the legitimacy of his presidency, the secrecy surrounding his college records, and the lies he told while in office. And Obama told some whoppers. Those who stayed in the conspiracy corner turned out to be Donald Trump's biggest supporters. In fact, you might say that he cultivated those people. Trump's 2012 embrace of birtherism set himself up with a coterie of true believers in fantasy. That was always my chief complaint about early Trumpkins: they divorced themselves from reality and lived in a fantastic world where Trump was always right, even when he contradicted himself the next day.
What am I saying? That's his supporters now!
But I'm not talking about Trump's zombie brigade, who would swear on a stack of Bibles their leader was innocent standing on Fifth Avenue after he shot a toddler holding a puppy dead on the street, claiming the toddler was really a Chinese spy.
I'm talking about liberals and so-called Never Trumpers who daily fantasize about Trump's downfall. They openly proclaim every story the smoking gun that will bust Trump's presidency wide open like it was a crime syndicate, and result in his immediate impeachment and conviction. They turn everything Trump says or does into an argument that Trump hates America, that he's a racist, a Russian stooge, a xenophobe (they may have a small point there), an idiot, a dangerous dictator.
In fact, they believe Trump is worse than Putin. They believe it not because it's true, but because it's their fantasy. Living in a fantasy benefits nobody. And when large portion of the country is living in a fantasy, America suffers. We cannot begin to heal until the deranged, angry left owns Trump.
I don't mean "own" like "dying at Disney World to own the NRA." I mean "own" as in President Trump is our president, and we should own that. He can't "collude" with Vladimir Putin simply because he had a conversation alone with the Russian president. That's his job. The president is head of state, head of government and commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces. Donald Trump holds all those positions and titles.
Trump was elected by a legally binding process we've had in America since John Adams. He didn't steal the election.
When Obama was elected in 2008 and inaugurated in January 2009, it took some time, like a month or so, but I decided to own Obama. I didn't like what he did--I didn't like that Obama tried to meddle in the Israeli elections to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu. I didn't like that he created a power vacuum in the Middle East the North Africa that directly led to the rise of ISIS (after we left Iraq hanging), the migrant/refugee crisis plaguing Europe, and the empowering of Iran, whose leaders despise America with a religious fervor immune to Obama's charm offensive.
I didn't like it but I owned it. I never claimed Obama wasn't our president. I never claimed he was "colluding" with Dmitry Medvedev when he was heard over an open microphone telling the Russian PM that he could be more "flexible" after his re-election, and to let Mr. Putin know that. Obama had the right to say whatever he wanted to Medvedev, because he was president.
Those in the media who dwell in the fantasy land of catching Trump in the "big lie" or playing All the President's Men on his administration are not helping themselves or the nation. All they do is cause Trump, who reacts like a fourth grader playing "I know you are but what am I?" in the lunchroom, to double down on how the press is the enemy of America. He provokes them, and they pull the tin-foil hats down further over their brows.
Birtherism was wrong, and it was wrong of then-citizen Donald Trump to engage in it. He knew what he was doing (he registered "Make America Great Again" the day after Mitt Romney lost the election in 2012). He knew he was going to use the Birther Brigades to be his foot soldiers. They still are.
But the left has its own foot soldiers, who are equal in their fervor, and more dangerous by far, who live to hate Trump and believe he's not their president. The media feeds them, and the Democrats use them for their own political purposes. It's bad for America. It will lead to violence (it already has). It will lead to the loss of free speech (it already has on campuses and in the public square). It will lead away from democracy and into despotism. All because a large group of Americans won't acknowledge that Donald Trump is their president and deserves the respect of the office. Even if you don't respect the man, respect the office. One day you might have someone you like occupying it, and it will be partially your fault when they are not respected.
A message for the left and the Democrats and the media: own Donald Trump. Be the adults in the room and say, out loud, he's our president, and what he does he does for America. You might not like what he does, but he's not trying to kill people, or cage children, or shut down free speech. Those are things Vladimir Putin does do.
Putin didn't care if Trump won or Hillary won. Either one accomplished his goal, to distract America by our division and descent into tin-foil hat fabulist conspiracy. Then Putin can build his Greater Russia without us to worry about. Do you see what Putin is doing here? The way to stop him is to own Trump, like we own our own lives, and then maybe we can learn to be adults.