For many years, Donald Trump has responded to criticisms with I'm-rubber-and-you're-glue projection: his sins become his opponents' sins. Whatever the president has done wrong becomes the thing he accuses his detractors of doing.
It's sometimes described as Trump's "no puppet" problem because during a 2016 debate, Hillary Clinton accused the Republican of being a "puppet" for his allies in Moscow. The future president, showing all of the sophistication of a slow toddler, responded, "No puppet. No puppet. You're the puppet. No, you're the puppet."
But we're occasionally reminded that Trump isn't the only one who embraces this tactic. The Associated Press reported this week, for example, on appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) of Arizona, who reflected on the ongoing impeachment proceedings.
McSally, who's one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the U.S. Senate, has repeatedly avoided saying whether she thinks it was wrong for Trump to ask Ukraine's government to investigate his political rival.But she was much more candid when speaking to a supportive audience in Tucson on Saturday, saying only the Democrats have abused their power.She said Republicans want to "make sure that we continue to highlight the abuse of power" that Democrats have committed, "which is the only abuse of power that we've seen going on here," apparently referring to the impeachment inquiry.
Exactly. Presented with striking evidence of presidential abuses, the appointed GOP senator believes it's actually Democrats, not Trump, who are guilty of abuses.
The AP report further suggested that McSally appears to be taking a rather partisan approach to the likely Senate impeachment trial, telling her friendly Arizona audience that Republicans are working through the best way to handle a trial "without inadvertently planting our own landmines and walking into a minefield."
"If we want to drag in some people, some other people may get dragged in, and, you know, we don't know how that's going to go," the senator was quoted saying.
McSally added that GOP senators are "working closely with the White House" on the process for impeachment.
Senate rules require members to take a specific oath before an impeachment trial gets underway: "I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of ____, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God."
The list of Senate Republicans who appear to be focused on considerations other than "impartial justice" appears to be growing.