Editorial: Before the inauguration, a state of confusion

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Sen. Richard Burr, acting in his capacity as chair of the Intelligence Committee, announced last week that he’d lead an investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

It’s a stunning first in US history: A probe into an elected president for connections with our most long-standing and powerful enemy, before he’s even inaugurated. The situation is so singular that we are not even sure how to articulate the accusation: Fraud? Treason? Conspiracy? Espionage?

Perhaps even more remarkable is that the announcement came just about 24 hours after a previous announcement from Sen. Burr saying that there would be no exploration of the connections between the president-elect and former KGB agent and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Things are happening pretty quickly in the nation’s capital in these vexing days before Trump’s inauguration, sending an uneasy ripple across the rest of the nation, much of which has only very recently learned what a “golden shower” is.

Now, out here in the real America, we’ve got Cold War conservatives deciding all of a sudden that Russia is not so bad after all — With a guy like Putin, you know where you stand! — and lifelong anti-authoritarians defending the honor of the CIA.

It’s hard not to get the feeling that new battle lines are being drawn, new alliances forged in the face of the coming calamity. And it’s becoming more evident with each tweet that aligning with the incoming president is a tricky business.

Just days after the House and Senate initiated action to repeal the Affordable Care Act, over the weekend Trump announced that his replacement plan will guarantee healthcare “insurance for everybody,” running roughshod over a long-held Republican tenet that healthcare is a privilege and not a right and leaving party operatives in both houses of Congress scrambling for rationalization.

It’s said in political circles that Democrats need to fall in love with a candidate before they come with support, but Republicans just need to fall in line. So there’s no shortage of senators and congressmen looking to cast themselves in their president’s image — they’re just having a hard time trying to pin down what that means.