Colson: Merkel snubbed, Russia probed, and so it goes | AspenTimes.com
John Colson
Hit & Run

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Colson: Merkel snubbed, Russia probed, and so it goes

Another interesting week we're in, as FBI Director James Comey on Monday confirmed his agency is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election (with an eye toward helping Donald Trump win the White House), and whether there was any link between Russia's actions and the Trump campaign.

Also, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is being put through his paces before the U.S. Senate.

Comey's testimony, of course, merely brings into the light of day the growing conviction that people have held for months now — that Russia, under the orders of President Vladimir Putin, put its most talented hackers to work finding electronic tidbits of information that might make Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton look even worse than she already did thanks to more than two decades worth of demonization at the hands of Republicans.

What will come out of Gorsuch's confirmation hearings, of course, will not be known for a while, perhaps weeks.

The consensus among his progressive opponents and critics, however, is that he is too pro-corporation, too anti-worker and anti-environmental protection, and too anti-abortion to be permitted to sit on the nation's highest court for the next several decades.

And so it goes.

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Even as we prepared for a week of tough talk on Capitol Hill, though, we continued to wade through the deep, somewhat brownish muddle of signals, outrageous proclamations and proposals coming from within the halls of the White House and the mind of President Donald Trump.

Trump continues to present the image of a mentally deranged billionaire (at least he claims to be that rich) who has all but disappeared behind the smoke of his burning paranoia over just about everything.

For example, there is as the "Deep State" conspiracy theory fed by Trump's chief adviser, Steve Bannon, whose rotten visage can be seen pacing the halls in a state of constant agitation.

Have you ever noticed, by the way, a similarity between Bannon and the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen character in that old sci-fi movie "Dune"?

Could Trump be a "Dune" fanatic, maybe a Baron Harkonnen worshipper? He did name his son Baron, after all.

This could offer some rationale, however weak, for Trump's bringing Bannon into the White House, and for his bromance with Putin (whose first name is Vladimir, you'll recall).

Anyway, I'm getting off topic. Back to Trump's apparent growing derangement.

As even some in his own party seem to be questioning his mental health, Trump continues to insist that his "lines" at Trump Tower were tapped by former President Barack Obama at some point during the campaign, or perhaps just after the election last November — one can never be certain what Trump means when he tweets or talks.

It was instructive, though, to read that Comey on Monday testified that he has "no information" to support Trump's wire-tapping claims — just as others in the nation's national-security community have said in the recent past.

Comey, of course, was accused last year of helping Trump to victory by announcing just before the election that he was reopening a previously closed FBI investigation into Clinton's use of a private, unsecured email server while she was secretary of state — although that never happened. There was no evidentiary foundation to Comey's remarks, and the investigation was never really reopened. But the damage was done, and Clinton's struggle to deflect partisan and dishonest Republican diatribes about her trustworthiness and integrity proved ineffective.

Moving right along, aside from the tribulations of the ideocracy and kleptocracy that have arisen around the Trump presidency, there has been plenty of other fodder for us to chew on.

For example, has anyone ever seen anything like what happened when German Chancellor Angela Merkel stopped in to see Trump at the White House?

If you haven't seen the videos of their "photo op" moment, when Trump pointedly refused to shake Merkel's hand, you should. It is worth it, despite the deep pain and confusion it causes as you contemplate that this is the man whose finger, figuratively speaking, is poised above the nuclear launch button.

It is telling that, when asked by a photographer for the standard hand-shake pose by the two world leaders, Trump did not even respond.

Merkel did, asked Trump if he'd like to comply, and seemed poised to stretch her hand toward Trump as they sat a couple of feet apart in upholstered wooden chairs.

But Trump, with a smile as fake as any imagined news story plastered on his face, resolutely stared at the cameras and, as he had throughout the photo op, seemed to be expending a lot of energy on not looking Merkel in the eye.

Sean Spicer, as Trump's spokesman and chief liar-in-waiting, offered the opinion that Trump had not heard the question.

OK, so the president is deaf or nearly so. Perhaps that's understandable for a 70-year-old spoiled brat who is so self-involved he may not feel a need to hear anyone around him, though Merkel (who is eight years younger) certainly heard it all right.

But one has to wonder whether that was the problem, or whether Trump was acting out a grudge against Merkel, whom he has accused of ruining her own country and not paying enough of the cost of stationing U.S. troops in Germany (along with other NATO nations).

Or maybe he just didn't want to come anywhere near her, since she clearly is not his "type," but instead is a very powerful, committed and intelligent female head of state — a threat, in other words.

Could it be that Trump did not shake her hand because he was afraid her grip might be too strong, his hands might be shown to be smaller than hers?

I wish I knew.

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.