The permanent interests of the House of Trump

Donald Trump Jr. a month before the election. Photograph by Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump Jr. a month before the election. Photograph by Gage Skidmore

Each man kills the thing he loves
    By each let this be heard, 
Some do it with a bitter look, 
    Some with a flattering word, 
The coward does it with a kiss, 
    The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young, 
    And some when they are old, 
Some strangle with the hands of Lust, 
    Some with the hands of Gold: 
The kindest use a knife, because
    The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long, 
    Some sell, and others buy; 
Some do the deed with many tears, 
    And some without a sigh: 
For each man kills the thing he loves, 
    Yet each man does not die.

– From Oscar Wilde’s “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”

With all due respect to Wilde, I think dear Oscar got it backward: Each man doesn’t kill the thing he loves. Each man is killed by it.

For the House of Trump – which is not quite the House of Atreus, Aeschylus not being an American strong suit – the love of all things Slavic has proved a fateful attraction and distraction. The Czechoslovakian first wife, the Slovenian third wife, the ties to Russian businessmen and entertainers who do not have quite the international status of an Andrea Bocelli, the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, the admiration for Vladimir Putin – these speak of an affinity for and an identification with Slavic culture, which embraces everyone from the aforementioned groups to the Croats, Serbs and Poles, among others.

There is nothing wrong with admiration for foreign cultures. There is much, however that is wrong with accepting aid from a foreign government, particularly an adversarial one, particularly when you are running for president of the United States.

This brings us to the mess in which we now find ourselves, courtesy of – ah, the irony – emails, this time those of Donald Trump Jr. They describe a family and a supporting cast of unattractive men and women involved in varying degrees in a meeting in which the Russian government dangled the prospect of allegedly damning information about then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, no doubt in an attempt to gauge the power of opportunism to trump, as it were, patriotism. The trap was set. The snare was made.

Originally, Donald Trump Jr., the big catch here, suggested that the meeting with Kremlin-tied lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was about Russia’s ban on American adoptions, which went into effect on the first day of 2013. Ostensibly, the law – known as the Dima Yakovlev Law – was a reaction to some negligent, abusive American parents. (It is named for the toddler who died nine years ago this month, because his American father left him in a car for nine hours, having forgotten to take him to daycare. The father, Miles Harrison, was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter in 2009 by a Fairfax, Va. court.)

The law, however, is also a retaliation for the United States’ Magnitsky Act, which places sanctions on corrupt Russians, stemming from a tax scandal exposed by Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

It’s hard to believe any member of the Trump family – which has proved itself more than capable of reproduction and defined mainly by self-interest – would care about Russian adoptions, which are said by The New York Times to be popular in America. You have to ask yourself why. Could it be because most American orphans are not white and Russian orphans are?

And yet, many of these children suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Often they can’t adjust. And neither can their adoptive American parents, who have in some cases met them not only with negligence and abuse but ultimately rejection.

Yet these unfortunate children offer an insight into a connection among Trump, his supporters and Russia – a streak of nationalism that seeks to retain a white, Christian majority.

Is any of this treason? By American definition, treason is a wartime act, and we are not at war with Russia.

Is it collusion? That will have to be determined by Congress. But I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for impeachment.

It has become apparent that it may be in virtually everyone’s interests – Trump’s, his family’s, Russia’s, the Republicans’ and even that of the Democrats, who may not like the idea of a President Mike Pence – to keep Trump president.

As the great British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli observed: “There are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.”