This column is rated R
The talking heads can’t even agree on what a favor is.
Does it require reciprocity? If a “favor” requires payback, is it still a “favor”?
That’s not how I roll. But I am not President Trump, who actually used the word “reciprocal” in deflecting it.
If you are new here, this is not a defense of Trump. This is an analysis of the likelihood this issue will drive Trump from office.
Spoiler alert: It will not.
Democrats, retrieve your exploded heads from the floor.
Republicans, use smelling salts to revive yourself.
The five-page transcript (not verbatim and not complete) is like a Rorschach test in which partisans see what they want to see. You are free to read it yourself.
The first thing to note is the conversation lasted a half-hour, from 9:03 to 9:33 a.m. Just for fun, read it aloud with a friend. Go slow. See if it comes anywhere near a half-hour.
It does not, so that is mystery No. 1.
For me, mystery No. 2 is why Ukraine President Volodymry Zelensky, best known as an actor and comedian, never cracked a joke.
But a re-reading of the pseudo transcript suggests I might be wrong.
I will go through it for you.
It begins with some mutual masturbation about how great each thinks the other is, and, boy, is Kim Jong-un going to be jealous that someone is flirting with his boyfriend.
Zelensky, apparently with a straight face, credits part of his recent electoral win to studying how Trump does it. “We used quite a few of your skills and knowledge,” the Ukie flatters Trump. He actually says “we wanted to drain the swamp here in our country,” which must be considered comedy.
Trump responds by reminding Zelensky how much the U.S. has done for Ukraine, while Germany and France have been AWOL.
Zelensky agrees and takes a shot at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is Europe’s ballsiest leader. He then butters up Trump some more. This is what is known as acting.
In the next passage, Trump offers to hook up Zelensky with Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s lawyer and foot massager Rudy Giuliani because, “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son…” Trump often uses the construction “a lot of people” when he means himself.
This is the part critics have seized on as proof that Trump is enlisting a foreign power to go after a political foe, and it sure looks like that.
The problem is that in a news conference today, the two presidents agreed there was no pressure put on the Ukrainian. There was no explicit quid pro quo.
For the record, there is zero evidence Biden’s son Hunter has done anything wrong, but the Trump forces want to turn this on Biden, who earlier had pressured the previous president of Ukraine to fire the state prosecutor.
In that case Biden was acting on instructions of the president and U.S. allies who believed the prosecutor to be corrupt.
The Democrats problem is to convince a majority of the American people, who have become inured to excessive and peculiar (if not illegal) behavior by their chief executive, that this time he has gone too far.
I don’t think they can.
While the Dems see this as simple and understandable, I think most Americans will see it as a political dirty trick, inappropriate and sleazy, rather than as a Watergate-style, impeachable crime.
And if the House does vote to impeach — and we are a long way from that happening — the Senate must concur and with its current Republican majority, that will not happen.