Sometimes the offenses of President Donald Trump are impeachable, and sometimes they’re just loathsome, dangerous and un-American.
This week, they’re all of the above.
The president offends us on religious grounds, re-tweeting a doctored image of the Jewish U.S. Senate leader, Chuck Schumer, and the Catholic House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, in Muslim headgear in front of an Iranian flag while claiming they were coming “to the Ayatollah’s rescue.”
Trump precedes this with the reckless killing of a thuggish Iranian military leader, Major General Qassim Suleimani, without offering a reason –- at least a truthful one that he doesn’t have to alter the next day -– for such a dangerous act.
The killing of Suleimani might have led us into all-out war with Iran. It led to Iraq calling on the U.S. to leave the country. It may also have led, inadvertently, to Iran downing a Ukrainian airplane and killing 176 people.
So why was Suleimani killed?
He was planning myriad “imminent” attacks, Trump claimed. But he had no facts to support this. Trump claimed four embassies were under immediate threat. Again, he offered no facts. Even Trump’s own administration cannot support such a statement. His defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, offered no backup to the president’s claims.
When Speaker Pelosi called the killing a “dangerous escalation of violence” based on questionable intelligence, Trump tweeted, “It doesn’t really matter because of [Suleimani’s] horrible past.”
It “doesn’t really matter”?
Then why knock off Iran’s second-most important leader and risk another war if it “doesn’t really matter?”
As Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) tweeted, “The American people don’t want another war based on false intelligence.”
But, in the current context of Trump outrages, the Suleimani killing is merely considered dangerous and not something that will be considered in this president’s upcoming impeachment.
The religious offense is also not considered impeachable. It’s merely loathsome and un-American.
Trump re-tweeted a photoshopped image of Schumer and Pelosi wearing a turban and a head scarf in front of an Iranian flag. The president claimed it showed “the corrupted Dems trying their best to come to the Ayatollah’s rescue #NancyPelosiFakeNews.”
“President Trump,” Schumer tweeted in response, “how low can you go?”
This is considered a rhetorical question. This president has played the racial/religious card before. Remember Charlottesville? That was all about Jews and blacks, and Trump somehow defending the bigots marching against them.
The phony photo doesn’t just question the patriotism (“corrupted Dems … come to the Ayatollah’s rescue”) of Schumer and Pelosi. It uses their religions to make the point. And it plays on fears of Muslims.
Using religion to divide people is un-American.
But as the U.S. Senate prepares for the Trump impeachment proceedings, is anyone surprised by this president’s actions? He’s getting off lucky. We don’t impeach presidents for words and actions that are merely loathsome.
If we did, Trump would have been gone every 10 minutes.
A former Baltimore Sun columnist and WJZ-TV commentator, Michael Olesker is the author of six books. His most recent, “Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age,” was reissued in paperback by the Johns Hopkins University Press.