Put a sock in it, Jim Jordan.
It wasn’t a joke — as you suggested — when Donald J. Trump, while standing on the White House lawn, called on China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential rival in the 2020 presidential elections.
But just to be fair, let’s look at exactly what Trump said on live TV as he prepared to leave Washington late last week for another round of golf in Florida.
“China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.”
The request came just moments after he discussed upcoming trade talks with China and told the same gaggle of reporters, as cameras rolled, that “if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”
Trump has never been a Jerry Seinfeld. Nor has he ever had the chops of a Ray Romano or Billy Crystal. He might come close to Pee Wee Herman, but that’s another story.
Jordan, a Republican congressman from Ohio and staunch defender (read lemming) of Trump, ran out the “joke” defense over the weekend when asked Sunday by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” if Trump’s suggestion to China was appropriate.
“I’m just telling you what the statement is. You asked me about the statement,” Jordan responded. “I don’t think anyone in America really believes — except people maybe in the press and some Democrats in Congress — really believe that the president of the United States thinks China is going to investigate.”
That wasn’t the question, Mr. Jordan. Answer the question: Do you think Trump calling on China to investigate a political rival is appropriate?
Jordan dodge the questioned again. “You really think he was serious about thinking that China is going to investigate the Biden family?”
Not the question, congressman. Answer the question: Do you think it was OK for Trump to violate the rule of law by calling on a foreign government — one that in this case is a sworn enemy of our country — to launch a probe of a political rival and his family?
Jordan’s response — after 10 minutes of ducking and dodging: “Well, I don’t think it’s going to happen. . . . I just don’t think that’s what the president was really saying.”
It’s not important what you think will or won’t happen, or what you think Trump “really” was saying.
Here’s what matters: Are you — an elected official of our government sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States — supporting Trump’s thumbing his nose at laws that form the foundation of our republic?
This is not a joking matter. This is not a time for Republicans or any other elected official to ignore the obvious — Trump believes he can get away with being lawless because that’s how he has operated all his life.
And you, Mr. Jordan, and your GOP brethren in and out of office are enabling this man-child, this wannabe dictator, to run roughshod over a democracy that is meant to protect all of us and provide a quality of life that for most of the 240 years of its existence has been the envy of the world.
For nearly three years now Trump and his minions have used the “joke” defense when his blathering results in showcasing his lifelong battle with foot-in-mouth disease. Remember the Russian request back in 2016? Trump said:
“I will tell you this: Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
What a knee-slapper that one was, right? No collusion with Russia. Just joking. He even went further in a written response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s question about that ask. Trump’s explanation was that he “made the . . . statement ‘in jest and sarcastically, as was apparent to any objective observer.’ ”
No, it was made as part of a political smear effort against his Democratic opponent in the upcoming general election, Hillary Clinton.
Jokes from a president, any president, are allowed and often times can be quite funny in the proper forum, such as the annual White House Correspondent’s dinner. Let’s flash back to 2011 when then-President Barack Obama dropped a few funnies on then-citizen Trump, who at the time was questioning Obama’s citizenship. Said Obama from the lectern:
“Donald Trump is here tonight. Now I know that he’s taken some flak lately. But no one is happier — no one is prouder — to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald. And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter: Like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
That was funny stuff. The crowd cracked up. Everyone, that is, except Trump, who sat fuming at his table. But Obama wasn’t through cracking funny, as is the privilege afforded a sitting president at this event:
“All kidding aside, obviously we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example . . . no seriously, just recently, in an episode of ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around, but you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership, and so ultimately you didn’t blame Lil Jon or Meat Loaf, you fired Gary Busey. And these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir. Well handled. Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House. Let’s see what we’ve got up there.”
Laughter erupted across the dining hall, but unfortunately for our country the jibes by Obama angered Trump so much that he not only decided to mount a presidential campaign, but managed to secure Russian assistance to steal the Oval Office for a four-year term.
The difference between Obama’s jokes at a news media event and Trump’s calls on live television for investigations of political opponents is blatantly obvious. Obama delivered his punches at a time and place where humor was expected and is often entertaining. Trump’s attempt at “jokes,” as Jim Jordan would have us believe, were delivered on the White House lawn in front of television news cameras as part of his never-ending political campaign.
No joke, Mr. Jordan, you are supporting illegal activity by a president who considers himself above the law, a person who thinks that as president he can do anything he wants, to anyone he wants, at anytime he wants, and he won’t suffer the consequences.