George Washington

"As if envisioning the political tribalism and 24/7 cable news culture of today, (President Washington) urged political leaders to restrain 'the continual mischiefs' of political parties. The 'spirit of party,' he wrote, 'serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.'

"And then he arrived at one of his greatest concerns: The ways in which hyperpartisanship could open the door 'to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.'"

Those paragraphs are from this New York Times op-ed written by Thomas R. Pickering, a former under secretary for political affairs and ambassador to Russia, Israel and the United Nations, and James Stoutenberg, a former Brooklyn assistant district attorney. Their op-ed, "Did George Washington predict Donald Trump?", doesn't prove the headline's question. That's impossible, I assume. But it does use Washington's noted concern about the United States' future involvement with foreign nations as another way to examine the Trump White House and Russia's influence on the 2016 presidential election -- now proven by last week's indictments.

The authors end their essay with this:

"In 2016, fake news, gerrymandering, voter suppression and disenfranchisement were 'the mischiefs' employed by the Republican Party to propel Mr. Trump’s campaign. And Mr. Trump, perhaps 'more able and more fortunate than his competitors,' stumbled to victory using mendacious appeals to voters squeezed by a greedy economy — even though Mr. Trump had himself profited handsomely from that economy.

"If only we had heeded Washington’s warnings, would the election have turned out as it did?"

-- Phillip Tutor