In any normal, sane universe Putin’s suggestion (much less Trump’s enthusiasm for it) would be laughed out of the room. No country allows its diplomats to be “interviewed” by a foreign government, not even if that government is one with which it is allied, and certainly not if that government is an enemy. To do so would be to surrender a country’s sovereign right to conduct its relations with other nations as it sees best. That’s been the basic understanding of diplomacy for the last few hundred years.
But, for Trump, it means nothing. Surrender McFaul to men and women who wouldn’t mind seeing him quietly die “by accident” after a little dose of Polonium-210? Not a problem. Do you want him gift-wrapped?
And, of course, this has caused no end of controversy. The American diplomatic, intelligence, and military communities are horrified. And they’ve said so publically.
But here’s the rub. I am very much afraid that the whole affair will do Trump absolutely no harm. If anything, I think, it will increase his standing among his existing supporters.
Why? Because they…Trump’s supporters…have almost as little love of McFaul as does Trump. The former Ambassador is, you see, a cultured, cultivated, well educated man who knows much and is reportedly kind and open. Which are precisely the characteristics which they…Trump’s supporters…detest.
He is what they loath most—an intellectual, a scholar, and a tough-minded idealist. Which means that, in their twisted universe, he’s a snowflake in striped pants.
Thus, Trump suffers nothing for his betrayal of McFaul and of America. He, just as did McCarthy some sixty years ago, will profit by adding the diplomatic corps to his ever growing list of pariahs and scapegoats.
He will profit. And his supporters will cheer.
But the rest of us? The nation?
We may never be the same again.