Imagine how Democrats, the media, academia and Hollywood would have reacted had the newly elected President Barack Obama, America's first black president, spent the first year of his presidency with his campaign and transition teams under investigation for "collusion" to steal the election.
Imagine if, from the very moment Obama won the election, Republicans reminded the country that Sen. Obama campaigned against what he considered President George W. Bush's dark, hawkish vision of foreign policy. And that Obama wanted to curry favor with Russia, whose assistance Obama wanted to secure the Iran nuke deal his administration so desperately wanted.
Imagine Obama supporters' reaction had Republicans, immediately after Obama's election, pushed the following narrative. Russia wanted Obama to win so Vladimir Putin could get him to reverse the Poland and Czech Republic defense deals that Russia strongly opposed. Obama, as president, delivered. (In fact, one of President Obama's first major foreign policy decisions reversed the missile defense deals Bush 43 negotiated with Poland and the Czech Republic.) So, say the Republicans, Obama was Russia's guy. Imagine the explosion in this country had Bush's top intelligence official called the newly elected Obama a Russian "asset" who does Putin's bidding, just as former National Intelligence Director James Clapper recently described President Donald Trump.
Imagine that Republicans claimed Obama did not earn the presidency: He stole it, used an ancient Jedi mind trick to sucker the American people into walking into that booth and punching that ballot for America's first black president.
Imagine if cable news televised hearing after hearing where Republicans aggressively questioned Obama officials about "collusion" with the Russians to win the election. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., often a voice of reason in her party, admitted that in the Trump investigations, so far, she sees no evidence of collusion, let alone illegal collusion. What would she have said if the target were Obama rather than Trump?
Imagine that "after all this time and expense" spent on an Obama collusion investigation, Democrats argue that investigators found no evidence of collusion, but then the investigation shifts. The probe goes from whether Obama worked with Putin to win the election to whether anyone lied to investigators during the investigation — no matter the fact the "lies" had nothing to do with whether illegal collusion occurred.
Imagine how Obama supporters would react to Republicans who first attributed Obama's win to illegal collusion, but then began saying, "It's not the crime; it's the cover-up," or "It's the obstruction of justice." Even more strident Republicans would likely note that the Communist Party USA no longer runs its own candidates for president but now supports Democrats, as they did Obama.
In fact, we really don't have to imagine. There is a parallel.
Recall how quickly Obama defenders cried racism when Republicans simply expressed policy differences. Actor Morgan Freeman all but called Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., "racist" for, in effect, saying that America will be better off if he works to make Obama a "one-term president." Obama supporters still cite the "you lie" outburst from Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., as a top exhibit for the "racist" disrespect supposedly accorded the first black president by Republicans. Former President Jimmy Carter even blamed racism for the vociferous opposition to Obamacare, as if there hadn't been intense opposition against Hillarycare 15 years earlier.
Editorials in virtually every major newspaper would blast an investigation of Obama. Most would call it racially motivated. An avalanche of angry editorials and opinion pieces would attack the "subversive effort to overturn this historic election." Imagine the outcry from editorials, pundits, former officials, college professors, actors and members of the clergy, demanding to know whether Republicans would go after a white male president with the kind of vengeance as they had this black one, whose very place of birth, they'd say, had been questioned by "birther" Republicans.
Cable TV commentators on CNN and MSNBC would have predicted, and prepared to cover, riots in the streets should Obama be impeached. Black Lives Matter leaders would encourage people to "take to the streets." Leaders would shout, "They can't even define 'collusion.'" "When did trying to get dirt on your opponent become a crime?" "This is nothing more than an attempt by white racists to undo an election because they still cannot believe a black man won." And on and on.
Every House and Senate Democrat would gather on the steps of the Capital to show solidarity, denounce the Obama probe and demand the firings of investigators who, in their view, "have shown bias." Civil rights leaders would call it "political lynching" by a party that wants "to bring back Jim Crow, turn back the clock on civil rights and suppress the black vote." Leaders would warn of an impending "civil war" if the probe continued.
And then, it would get ugly.