This has been a hair-on-fire week in American politics, prompted by Trump's bizarre behavior at his ill-prepared Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. There were calls of treason and shameful behavior in the face of a principal "enemy", "adversary", "foe"... whatever Russia may be in the eyes of mainstream politicians and pundits. You know the facts - Trump, of course, contradicted his intelligence advisors, suggesting that he believes Putin's denials regarding the hack against Democrats in particular and the electoral system in general during the 2016 race. He then walked it back - and I mean this literally - like a five-year-old might; that, of course, was enough for those occasional Republican critics of the president. He misspoke on one phrase ... THAT clears it up.
That said, the coverage of this series of incidents has been so over the top it's almost dizzying. Mainstream center-left commentary has portrayed this performance as evidence of treason, selling out the country, proof that Donald Trump is a mere puppet of the nefarious Vladimir Putin. It's a circumstance in which everyone from war hawks like John McCain to drone apologist John Brennan to Rachel Maddow is in full agreement: Trump should have been tougher on the Russians. He should have never held this summit. Our country was "attacked" by Russia. Their interference in our election was "an attack on American Democracy" of a magnitude similar to Pearl Harbor and 9/11. How many died in the battle of Election 2016? Ask these folks.
This much I know: Trump was essentially wasting our time meeting with the Russian president. No significant advance work was done, and God knows there are a lot of issues that should be discussed with Putin and his government, particularly with the latest START treaty cruising toward expiration. That isn't treason so much as Trump being the usual incompetent boob. Now, I have no doubt that the president either has extensive financial interests in Russia in the form of loans from oligarchs and gangsters or would like to do business there in the future and, therefore, is eager to curry favor with the wealthy cabal of gangsters that own that country. I even think it's possible that Trump's laser-like focus on his own self-interest may have prompted him to violate the law by exchanging some pledge of Russia-friendly presidential action for help in the election. Time will tell.
But is Trump some kind of Manchurian candidate? God no. He is loyal to nothing but himself. So in a sense he's a traitor to the country, but only in the same way that most rich people are, placing wealth above all else, forsaking all but self, to paraphrase Adam Smith. On that, he's guilty as charged.