In an excellent and wide-ranging column this past weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle's David Talbot concludes that, "The American people need to maintain a healthy skepticism as we are bombarded with allegations from both sides of the Trump-deep state divide."
I agree with Talbot. Believing every rumor about Trump is a recipe for exhaustion and enervation. Always being outraged plays right into the President's hands, by making it easier to dismiss all critics as unhinged and angry.
That said, Talbot's argument is not airtight. He claims that critics of the current President understate the likelihood that Trump was wiretapped last year: "Despite the outraged denials from the Obama camp, Trump might indeed have been tapped during the presidential campaign. On the eve of the November election, an intriguing national security blogger named Louise Mensch — a former Conservative Party member of British Parliament with strong intelligence ties — reported that the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which authorizes government spying, had granted a warrant for the FBI to conduct surveillance of certain Americans as part of the bureau’s investigation into possible links between Russian banks and Trump’s corporate empire."
In the fullness of time it may well emerge that Trump was wiretapped, but the issue is that he alleged that President Obama himself personally and of his own accord ordered this action. This is the detail that Talbot elides in his retelling.
For such an explosive charge, the burden of proof is on the accuser and not the accused. In this case no such proof will be forthcoming. Trump and his team have backpedalled from the claim for more than a week, and by now are claiming that Trump did not mean what we said and was speaking more generally. Meanwhile they have missed a Congressional deadline to provide evidence for the charge. This is because they have no legitimate evidence to provide.
This is an area in which outrage is needed, even if it plays into the hands of the caricature of the always angry protestor. If we just meekly accept this as "Donald being Donald," his next claim will be even more outrageous. Like the frog that does not know it is boiling because the heat goes up just one degree at a time, we would have a country in which all facts become fiction and total fiction becomes received reality. Whenever the president challenges the concept of truth itself, we must resist. The stakes are too high to do anything else.