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Alas, I must defend President Trump once again. I continue to find him more suitable for diagnosis than condemnation.

I don't think he needs to be impeached for high crimes. I think he needs to be escorted discreetly to personality rehab, even though it would mean the atrocity of the unctuous Mike Pence as the acting president.

A garden-variety criminally colluding traitor does not make a speech calling on the foreign rival with which he is alleged to be colluding to hack into his opponent's emails.

Somebody not smart enough to collude does that. Somebody given by an ego disorder to cheering-spurred adrenaline does that. Someone prone by misguided personal celebration to unthinking rhetoric gets worked up at a political rally and does that.

Trump got predictably routed Monday in a brief pseudo-summit with a vastly more competent and self-assured Russian, Vladimir Putin, who probably sized up Trump's easily manipulated ego-neediness in about five minutes years ago.

This pitted the veteran Russian intelligence operative against the star of American reality television. It was like UALR starting football and scheduling itself in its first year as Alabama's opener.

That's why Putin, as he acknowledged Monday, wanted the American mound of clay to get elected president. He saw someone he could work with, or on. He knew Hillary Clinton was more formidable, or at least more irritable--that Trump fancied a shirtless horseback rider more than she did.

I never deemed Trump bright enough to collude or conspire. I deemed him instead vapid and self-absorbed enough to be used.

I don't think he means to be treasonous. I think he seeks at all times only to feed his ravenous ego. Everything he does comes down to the only thing he ever thinks about--himself, save a few moments apparently devoted to idolizing the man's man that is Vladimir.

I see Trump as the classic bully--full of big talk in front of a friendly unthinking crowd, or in an interview, or on Twitter, but conflict-averse and anti-confrontational--i.e., a wimp--when personally confronted by one against whom he might have delivered tough-sounding criticism moments before, be that Angela Merkel or Theresa May. Or anybody, save Putin.

Trump must also be sexist. He might not have been as hard in interviews or in detached pronouncements on a male leader of Germany or the United Kingdom, or as intimated by a female leader of Russia, not that Russia would have one.

If Trump turns out to be beholden to Russian oligarchs or compromised by information Russians have on him, then so be it. But I will be surprised. I will admit naïveté. Until then, I will continue to find Donald more utterly ridiculous than strictly corrupt.

What kind of world leader stands on the world stage next to an epic rival and finds the occasion appropriate for asserting once again that he won the presidency fair and square on his own because of his own brilliant campaign, and to utter the resoundingly bogus notion--and the narrow and self-obsessed provinciality--that he won in the electoral college despite the electoral college favoring Democrats?

A recent cover article in The Economist explains with statistical analysis what I've been screaming for months--that America's electoral system has created the tyranny of a minority of rural Republicanism. It does that by giving inordinate, distorted electoral strength to Republican-dominating desolate territory than to large concentrations of actual people, who mostly favor Democrats. Republicans control both the White House and the U.S. Senate despite getting fewer people's votes for both.

And therein lies Trump's obsession with the federal investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election: It raises the lingering specter that Russia helped him win a race he couldn't win on his own. It suggests his victory is thus not legitimate, much less reflective of his personal magnificence.

Nothing disturbs him and his disorder more than that.

A foreign threat to the integrity of our democracy certainly doesn't.

What transpired Monday in Helsinki--Trump's utter betrayal of his nation and acquiescence to Putin--was portended in this space a week ago.

I quoted the Business Insider as reporting that Putin was playing to Trump's ego in numerous conversations by treating him as an equal in terms of intellect and potency. The Russian intelligence operative was filling the head of the American reality television star with notions that only the American "deep state" stood in the way of their friendship, indeed an alliance that could dominate the world.

A man who would fall for that needs emergency personality surgery for the removal of delusion and naïveté, and for the injection of brain cells through a steady IV drip.

You should fear for your country and the world--certainly. You should be outraged at the declined state of decency and the lost American ideal.

But in the specific case of the poor preposterous second-place Russian-endorsed president, you should feel mostly sorry.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 07/18/2018

Print Headline: He just can't help it

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  • Rightside
    July 18, 2018 at 6:24 a.m.

    Barack Obama sold out our Eastern European allies on missile defense. He slow-walked aid to Ukraine and did little more than shrug when Crimea was annexed.
    He said “never mind” on his own “red line” in Syria and turned a blind eye to Putin’s intervention there, in large part because of his obsessions with getting the Iran deal.
    The Russian meddling in our elections started on Obama’s watch. and he did nothing because he thought Hillary would get elected. Trump administration has made life harder for Russia diplomatically and economically thanks to revving up our oil and gas production. U.S. airstrikes reportedly killed around 200 Russian "mercenaries" during a failed attack on a U.S.-held military base in eastern Syria. Trump ordered Russia to close dipomatic offices in San Francisco, New York and Washington DC. Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats from the U.S. Trump administration's decision to supply Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank missiles, Obama refused. Trump's Department Of Justice charged a dozen Russian intelligence officers with conspiring to hack Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump administration imposed sanctions on seven of Russia’s richest men and 17 top government officials in the latest effort to punish President Vladimir V. Putin’s inner circle for interference in the 2016 election and other Russian aggressions. President has said many times since elected that Russia hacked and meddled in our election(check the videos). Brummett types in media and democrat party have called it "Kristallnacht" when Hilter killed and 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps or like Pearl Harbor or as Democratic Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen on Monday called for military coup? What is the matter with you people.

  • RBear
    July 18, 2018 at 6:27 a.m.

    Interesting analysis, John. You hit on two key points. Trump's ego is something easily played by world leaders and will continue to be over his presidency. The SK leader played to it when he courted Trump in the lead up to the meeting with Kim. Kim played him in Singapore and continues to play him. Putin played him at Helsinki resulting in the proclamation that Trump did not believe Russia meddled with the US elections even with overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
    Trump's ego gets played daily by his advisers who use that trait to gain agenda advantages. The tax cuts were a result of Ross and Navarro using Trump to promote the agenda of their whitepaper from several years ago. Steve Miller plays him on immigration policy, stroking Trump's ego while enacting draconian immigration measures.
    The second point is an interesting one about the EC and something I have also thought may need a review in the coming decade. It's not something that can be easily tinkered with, as the principles our founders used to devise it and the Senate were designed to prevent large states from overshadowing smaller states. But when the skew becomes so large, the process is not working. For example, the EC advantage of Idaho over California is substantial. ID gets an EC vote per 161K voters. CA getsa an EC vote for every 241K voters. That's a 66% advantage.
    But to change the method of electing the president would probably take a constitutional convention which would bring its own set of problems.

  • TimberTopper
    July 18, 2018 at 6:29 a.m.

    John, another good read, however I feel you are being too kind to Trump. You've probably given him more kindness in this article than he has to any human being in his lifetime. I do believe that if Trump thought he could get away with it he would do anything to win, cheat or whatever. And I still feel that Trump's bankers are the Russians through the Private Wealth Division of the big German bank. The word was that Trump missed his first payment to the bank when due and they shifted his business to that Private Wealth Division. That bank also had some problem with doing a bit of that money washing with Russian money.

  • RBear
    July 18, 2018 at 6:55 a.m.

    And we get a mound of misinformation from Rightside. I know he got most of that from talking points from right wing sites because Google can be such a powerful tool when researching misinformation. It's not worth digging through some of this, but with regards to Obama doing nothing it shows the ignorance of many on how cyberstrikes are analyzed and dealt with. Obama's team started alerting candidates AND election bureaus about the cyber attacks, but several of the election bureaus ignored the warnings, citing fear of federal involvement of the elections. As a result, some bureaus in several red states were compromised even if the election was not altered.
    With regard to Trump's stance with Russia, most of that has been for show AFTER the investigations by the Obama administration. With regards to revving up oil and gas production, that's really been to counter cutbacks in OPEC (yet another piece of misinformation). With regards to Trumps saying Russia meddled, I did check a video, the one on Tuesday where he said Russia didn't do it.
    Rightside is a copy/paste troll who doesn't really think on this but parrots what right wing blogs provide him. Do research for a change instead of being a Trump shill. Idiot.

  • WGT
    July 18, 2018 at 7:13 a.m.

    And the duped fellow citizens who have willingly gone along with this horrible display of deluded, sanctimonious, righteousness.

  • ShowMeTheWay
    July 18, 2018 at 7:38 a.m.

    Old Rightside gives us the usual rendition from the playbook: everything that's wrong is the progeny of the last Democrat; everything that's right belongs to the current Republican't. Donald Trump is farsical. "I meant to say 'Wouldn't' " Maybe he meant to say "DON'T lock her up" or "There IS collusion." Too bad he didn't think of this whitewashing when he spoke about grabbing them by the pussy. Whatever. An absolute disgrace. There is no man so blind as he who will not see. What's the matter with us? We see.

  • Foghorn
    July 18, 2018 at 7:45 a.m.

    Trump made an interesting announcement during his meeting w/Putin which isn’t getting a lot of press. He said the NSC - not the State Dept - would take the lead in negotiations to improve relations with Russia. We should have anticipated that since John Bolton, who heads the NSC, not Mike Pompeo, accompanied Trump to Helsinki. There have also been numerous high level departures at the NSC since Bolton took over. Just yesterday, Mike Berry, NSC Intelligence lead, was canned. Virtually everyone with any connection to any other US intelligence agencies has been sacked or resigned under Bolton. This does not bode well.

  • ObieOne
    July 18, 2018 at 7:59 a.m.

    You folks have Serious Trump Derangement Syndrome. Funny how losers hate winners. FYI there is only One cure.

  • RBear
    July 18, 2018 at 8:05 a.m.

    David and you offer no real content to refute anything Brummett or others said. When you don’t know anything, throw in the ad hominem.

  • Rightside
    July 18, 2018 at 8:14 a.m.

    It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome! Hillary loss get over it. Trump "I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world's two largest nuclear powers, we must get along." Do democrats and media want conflict and war?
    RBear is upset about information and facts he would rather deal with nonsense. Barack Obama said during a campaign stop that he had visited "57 states." Ok he misspoke, no big deal every body does it.