COME ON! HE DID IT
Trump supporters are clinging to unreasonable doubts
I’ve related this old joke before, but the time seems right for a retelling.
A man who suspected his wife was having an affair hired a private investigator to follow her around.
“Here’s what I saw,” the gumshoe reported several days later. “On the night she told you she was out with her girlfriends, she was actually at a dimly lit restaurant having dinner with a man. I tailed them to a bar where they got sloppy drunk and slow danced for about an hour. After that, I followed them to a motel and saw them go into a room together. Then the man pulled the curtains closed and the lights went out.” The husband shook his head. “Always the element of doubt,” he sighed.
It’s the same blinkered expression we’re hearing these days from stalwart defenders of President Donald Trump.
Did Trump attempt to use the power of his office to coerce leaders of an allied foreign country to dig up dirt on one of his domestic political rivals?
I mean, yes, sure, his administration later cited fears of corruption for putting a hold on nearly $400 million in congressionally approved military aid for Ukraine, even though Trump has otherwise shown little interest in fighting corruption and even though the Defense Department certified in May that Ukraine’s anti-corruption efforts had met U.S. standards for foreign aid.
And yes, sure, that aid was finally released just two days after news broke in September that a whistleblower was raising alarms about White House attempts to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation.
But that could be an eerie coincidence on top of some misunderstandings.
Always the element of doubt.
And yes, sure, multiple nonpartisan witnesses at the U.S. House impeachment hearings testified that Trump’s minions repeatedly pressured Ukrainian leaders to at least announce that they were investigating possible illegalities related to Joe Biden’s son and the Ukrainian energy company that hired him. Such an announcement was a prerequisite, they said, for Trump to grant a White House meeting with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
But it could be that the witnesses were lying or were simply confused when they claimed that Trump’s illicit intentions were widely known in his inner circle. After all, none of those who testified claimed to have heard Trump say directly, “Squeeze the Ukrainians until they agree to help my reelection effort,” so maybe they were just speculating.
Always the element of doubt.
And yes, sure, those who presumably did speak directly to Trump about Ukraine and would be in a position to offer exculpatory testimony — such confidants as former national security adviser John Bolton, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani — are refusing to testify. And Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee have refused to call on these men to appear, and have failed to produce even one witness to swear under oath to Trump’s innocent and salutary intentions.
But that could be … well, I don’t know. It could be that the mystery man in the joke above is the wife’s long-lost brother.
Always the element of doubt.
In the real world, there is no longer any reasonable doubt that Trump abused his power by orchestrating a plot to extort Ukraine for his personal political advantage. History will mock those who are still claiming or hoping otherwise.
He did it. The only real question now is whether this offense, on top of Trump’s other obstructions and transgressions, is grave enough to remove him from office. Is it right — is it even safe — to have a vengeful, dishonest aspiring tyrant leading our country for 14 more months, at minimum?
I have no doubt of my answer. What’s yours?
Bill and Wendy signing off, for now
Radio’s a tough business, and I understand why station bosses have to fire on-air personalities from time to time as they strive for higher ratings and greater ad revenue.
What I don’t understand, though, is why they so seldom give ousted personalities the chance to say goodbye and thanks to their listeners.
After all, success in radio is based on building and maintaining connections between hosts and the audience. At their best, these connections come to feel personal, almost like a friendship.
So it’s a betrayal of the listeners when management severs those connections without notice. If they’re afraid of profane rants or boss bashing from terminated hosts — not unheard of! — they could record and edit farewell messages before airing them. Listeners would feel respected.
The reason I bring this up is that on Wednesday news talk station WGN-AM 720 fired its midmorning team of Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder, and I want to give them a chance to address their audience one last time.
There’s a bit of quid pro quo at work here, I admit. For the six years they were together at the station, Leff and Snyder invited me into their studio each week for a half-hour segment to talk with them and their audience about the news, my columns, my family or whatever else was on my mind.
So I offered them a little Tribune real estate here as a return favor. Here’s what they wrote:
“We have lived a dream. We have stood in front of microphones and spoken our minds. We have talked about life in America’s greatest city, interviewed the famous and the not-so-famous, expressed disappointment in our sports teams, examined the intricacies and foibles of the human condition and made fun of ourselves and each other, gloriously.
“All of this at the legendary WGN-AM in Chicago, the crown jewel of talk radio, the station we hated when our parents forced it on us as kids, the station we made fun of as teenagers, and the station we learned to respect as we realized why it’s been so good for so long — because the people there cared.
“A very important thank you needs to go out to our listeners. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate you being there with us, and letting us be honest and real and have fun. Don’t worry, this story isn’t over.
“Bill & Wendy.”
The winner of this week’s reader poll to select the funniest tweet was “Life is too short to hold grudges, so go get your revenge and move on,” by writer/ actor Tim Seidell (@badbanana).
The poll appears at chicagotribune.com/zorn, and you can receive an alert when it’s posted by signing up for the Change of Subject email newsletter at chicagotribune.com/newsletters.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, right, listens to testimony during an impeachment hearing on Nov. 21.