A transgression too far

Yesterday, at a manufacturing plant near Cincinnati, President Trump riffed about how the Democrats reacted to his State of the Union address. At the end, Trump said:

They would rather see Trump do badly, OK, than our country do well…it’s very selfish…even on positive news, really positive news like that, they were like death and Un-American. Un-American. Somebody said ‘treasonous.’ I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? [laughter] Can we call that treason? Why not. [laughter] I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much. But you look at that and it’s really very, very sad.

I agree with NRO’s Dan McLaughlin that Trump was playing for laughs here, not seriously accusing Democrats of treason. I think, too, he was being transgressive. He delights in saying things he’s not supposed to say.

This, though, was a transgression too far. The president should never throw the “T” word around lightly, and he certainly shouldn’t apply it to political adversaries for the sin of not standing up to applaud his speech.

McLaughlin is close to the mark:

The real problem here is not that Trump is going around actually calling in deadly earnest for his political opponents to be prosecuted for treason (something Democrats do to Trump and his family and advisors literally every day, by the way) but that he’s basically openly mocking the idea that words in politics mean anything at all.

If “treason” comes to mean little at all, or becomes a laughing matter, America will have lost its bearings. Great mischief is likely to follow.

As usual, the Democrats’ reaction to Trump’s transgression smacks of hypocrisy. McLaughlin (via David Harsanyi) calls our attention to numerous instances in which Democrats and their media partners have accused conservatives and Republicans the very thing Trump talked about yesterday — rooting against America out of a desire to see the president fail.

Note, however, that none of these instances involved accusations by a president. And only one involved a public official using the word “treason.” (That distinction belongs to odious Andrew Cuomo).

In any event, citing liberal hypocrisy provides no defense for Trump. I hope this will be the last time he calls his political adversaries traitors, even in jest. However, knowing Trump, and given that the Ohio crowd yucked up his slur, I’m not optimistic.

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