Wineke: Touch Trump and die?

A couple of years ago a Republican operative named Rick Wilson wrote a book asserting that “Everything Trump Touches Dies.”

At the time, I thought that was a bit of hyperbole, just as I thought the then-candidate Trump’s suggestion that he could shoot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue and not lose a vote was also hyperbole.

Those were simpler times.

In October, one of the president’s lawyers, William Consovoy, argued in court that the president would, indeed, have immunity from prosecution – so long as he was in office – even if he did shoot someone on Fifth Avenue.

Hyperbole is one of those quaint customs of the past. And Rick Wilson is beginning to look prescient.

It’s not that human bodies are dropping dead all over the place. I don’t think the Secret Service would actually allow the president to shoot someone or that he would hit the target should he try.

But anyone associated with President Trump soon ends up with zombie characteristics.

Can you think of a single person whose reputation has actually been enhanced by proximity to the president?

The latest example was U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who blew away a decades-long friendship with former Vice President Joe Biden in order to fire up an investigation of Biden and his son and their dealings in Ukraine. He did that on his own. He did it to distract attention from the impeachment proceedings.

Trump’s acolytes in the impeachment hearings, meanwhile, attacked a Purple Heart recipient, suggesting he may not be a loyal American. They said nice things about the woman who formerly was ambassador to Ukraine – but Trump undercut them even as they were testifying by smearing the ambassador.

Everything he touches dies.

One of the institutions he has touched is the Republican Party. I’m not at all sure that the GOP will lose the next election. It still controls the Senate and the legislative bodies in much of the country – but to what end?

The Republicans once stood for fiscal restraint — the current annual budget deficit is about a trillion dollars. Strong defense — Russia is laughing at us. Limited government — Trump is now casually overriding the military justice system by pardoning men who were being tried for what amounts to war crimes. The GOP is now a Trump cult.

Everything Trump touches dies.

What scares me is that the major thing the president now touches is the United States of America.

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