In my long-ago Arkansas days, a friend of mine had a saying for something unbelievably dumb that we were being asked, usually by a lying politician, to believe.
It went: “This is the test that separates the apes from human beings.”
Human beings (one assumes this is the point) are capable of rational analysis that is beyond the mental powers of even other highly evolved primates.
At the moment, the latest such test is what Donald Trump and his crowd are calling “Obamagate.”
“Obamagate” is all the rage on the Fox News opinion shows, but I haven’t been able to find a transcript that makes clear to my poor simian brain what the enormous crime is, at least one worthy of the “Gate” suffix.
And Trump made a reference to it in front of the press the other day, which elevated it further and seems to have become central to the current Republican attacks on Obama’s former running-mate and Trump’s future opponent Joe Biden.
But I have been unable to find a coherent explanation of what “Obamagate” alleges, except that it was a serious crime or abuse of power, under Obama, with Biden implicated, that has something to do with Mike Flynn, the disgraced former Trump National Security Advisor who pled guilty to lying to the FBI.
In a recent press availability, after Trump made a reference to the horrors of Obamagate as a dastardly crime in which not only Obama but Biden were deeply implicated, Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker asked Trump to specify the crime at the heart of Obamagate, to which Trump nimbly replied: “You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody.”
He just couldn’t come up with the name of any known crime.
This is one of the tests the separates the apes from human beings.
When a human being accuses someone of a crime, a specific violation of a criminal statute, they are supposed to be able to name the crime and the statute and the facts showing how the accused individual committed the violation.
Until that exchange, I had sort of been ignoring the growing references on Fox News and other righty blogs and talk shows to “Obamagate”
But now that the president has said it, it’s time for him to specify the nature of the alleged crime and evidence – evidence that the authorities are prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt – that said crime occurred and was committed by the accused.
I spent much of this morning trying to find such an explanation of it. I note that Flynn, who was nominated, confirmed and briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser in 2017, had access to legal counsel before he pled guilty in December 2017 – that’s a year into the Trump administration – of lying to F.B.I. investigators about his improper communications with Russian officials, while acting on behalf of Trump, during the 2016 campaign.
Again, in the absence of a clearer explanation of what crime against Flynn is being alleged by Trump, and the fact that, when asked publicly, Trump couldn’t think of a crime to mention (even though it’s “obvious to everybody.”)
At the moment, I’m not part of the “everybody” to whom it is obvious. And, despite all of the discussion, I can’t locate a coherent statement explaining the crime. Or who committed it. Or when and how it happened.
Trump is now president and has been for three and a half years. The Justice Department works for him. Why has this crime (not Flynn’s crime, but the crime committed by some combination of Biden and Obama against Flynn) not been alleged in a criminal indictment?
In the storied history of the United States, has a sitting president ever made such an allegation and then refused to back it up, or even specify the crime he was alleging?