The power of saying the quiet parts out loud

Really loved this take from Ashley Parker— I think she’s got it exactly right:

Ukraine, if you’re listening . . .

Much as he did three years ago — when he asked Russia to hack the emails of his Democratic rival — President Trump on Friday seemed to make a similar request of Ukraine, all but urging the Eastern European nation to investigate Joe Biden, his potential Democratic opponent.

“It doesn’t matter what I discussed, but I will say this — somebody ought to look into Joe Biden,” Trump said Friday in the Oval Office, swatting away questions about whether he had improperly attempted to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on the former vice president.

It was 2016 all over again, when Trump looked directly into the camera and exhorted a geopolitical foe to steal the emails of Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, and release them to the public.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said in July of that year, referring to the trove of messages that Clinton deleted from a private email server. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

For Trump, controversial public disclosures have became almost routine, with the president saying the potentially scandalous part aloud. It is a form of shamelessness worn as a badge of protection — on the implicit theory that the president’s alleged offenses can’t be that serious if he commits them in full public view. [emphasis mine]

Yes!!!  As so many observers have pointed out, all the information in plain sight is incredibly damning. But, pretty much always and forever, politicians don’t confess in plain sight to wrongdoing and malfeasance.  So, when we have a president who does (exhibit A, basically admitting obstruction of justice to Lester Holt).  So, when you have a president who does act this way, so much of the media literally doesn’t even know how to respond and it really does get covered that it cannot be that serious of the president admitted it.  Here’s the thing, though… it can be.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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