By now, we've all seen the video of Cleveland Browns player Myles Garrett beaning Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with his own helmet on Thursday night. On Friday, the NFL indefinitely suspended Garrett, and he'll be out for the rest of the season at least.
This is, of course, grossly unfair. The play was beautiful, just watch the video for yourself. Garrett has been working hard to make Cleveland great again. He was the first pick in the 2017 overall draft and, obviously, a lot of teams have been working to overturn the results of that draft ever since. Everybody knew when Garrett was drafted that he was a counter-puncher and that if you hit him, he hits you back three times as hard. That's what people love about him, that he's a fighter. Yes, he tore off Rudolph's helmet and hit him over the head with it when Rudolph wasn't looking, but Rudolph tried to remove Garrett's helmet first and Garrett has a right to defend himself!
Sure, this wasn't in keeping with the rules, but the old rules don't apply anymore. All that matters is winning. Anything is fair game, as long as it benefits your team, or even just you. Everybody - certainly every Browns fan - should be defending Myles Garrett to the hilt. Because nothing is ever more important than your team.
Trump is damaging good people
Look at President Donald Trump. He did pretty much the same thing to former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Friday when he attacked her right in the middle of her congressional testimony at the impeachment hearing by tweeting, "Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President's absolute right to appoint ambassadors."
If that wasn't a cheap shot when she wasn't looking, I don't know what is. This all does seem sort of amusing - you can imagine my reaction when I saw that "Saturday Night Live" had "stolen" this analogy and used it in a cold open that ended with "Garrett" bopping "Rudy Giuliani" in the head with his helmet - but it's not. Trump's scorched earth defense is damaging real people, good people, who deserve better.
Yovanovitch had a distinguished career serving American interests under both Republicans and Democrats in some of the most stressful, unpleasant and occasionally dangerous places on earth. You would think this would provide her with pretty solid protection. But President Trump, Garrett-style, tore that helmet off and beat her with it, claiming that she was responsible for the difficult conditions in the countries where she served rather than honoring her for her service. It's pretty much the equivalent of blaming the military team that took out the leader of the Islamic State terrorist organization, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, for the civil war in Syria.
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Trump's attack on Yovanovitch wasn't all that surprising considering that he had already trashed her on his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and had apparently countenanced an utterly despicable campaign to get her recalled from her position as ambassador. It's true that ambassadors serve at the president's pleasure and that he should have confidence in their abilities. But when an ambassador is removed because she's not going along with half-baked conspiracy theories and because she's trying to keep U.S.-Ukraine relations on an even keel despite Giuliani's ham-handed efforts to freelance his own apparently illegal foreign policy, well, we've got a problem.
Republican silence is vile
Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council Ukraine expert who was on the call with Zelensky, is one of eight witnesses scheduled to appear at impeachment hearings this week. Trump and his sycophants have already sneered at Vindman's honesty and questioned his patriotism and service. We can expect more of the same when he testifies publicly on Tuesday.
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What Trump is doing to these dedicated public servants might not be impeachable, but it is certainly vile. What's even more vile is the Republican response, which, with very few exceptions, has been nothing but crickets. This isn't about politics; it's about basic human decency. If you're willing to stand by and look the other way when a powerful bully torments a decent person just for trying to do their duty, there's really no other way to put this: You suck.
A fish rots from the head. Dirty, baseless attacks seem to be the order of the day in Trump's America. While the stakes may be different, Myles Garrett's vicious attack on Mason Rudolph is far too similar to Trump's attack on Ambassador Yovanovitch for moral comfort. If you are OK with one and not the other, maybe you should ask yourself why.
Chris Truax, an appellate lawyer in San Diego, is an adviser to Republicans for the Rule of Law and a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Impeachment tweet attack showed how Donald Trump is like Myles Garrett