Sunday, January 07, 2018

Worst White House Occupant Ever? What About His GOP Enablers?


Señor Trumpanzee is flipping out over Michael Wolff’s book-- completely deranged-- and claiming he’s “stable” and “a genius” and that Bannon has an 80 IQ. Trump is insane and should be impeached immediately under the terms of the 25th Amendment. The voters should deal with the Republicans who, knowing full well that Trump is a dangerous sociopath, enabled him anyway-- especially Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. They’re more aware than most of Trump’s unfitness for office. But they don’t care, as long as he signs legislation that harms working families perceived as being supporters of Democrats-- their dream come true.

David Frum, writing for The Atlantic this morning was talking about Trump in terms of the Godfather character, Fredo, who has been used for years to denigrate the dumbest of the Trump children, Don, Jr. He began his essay about Trump’s mental unfitness with Fredo’s most memorable line: “I can handle things. I’m smart! Not like everybody says, like dumb. I’m smart and I want respect!” Fredo was soon swimming with the fishes.

This morning’s presidential Twitter outburst recalls those words of Fredo Corleone’s in one of the most famous scenes from The Godfather series. Trump tweeted that his “two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” and in a subsequent tweet called himself a “very stable genius.”

Trump may imagine that he’s Michael Corleone, the tough and canny rightful heir-- or even Sonny Corleone, the terrifyingly violent but at least powerful heir apparent-- but after today he is Fredo forever.

There’s a key difference between film and reality, though: The Corleone family had the awareness and vigilance to exclude Fredo from power. The American political system did not do so well.

Michael Wolff’s scathing new book about the Trump White House has sent President Trump spiraling into the most publicly visible meltdown of his presidency. Until now, Trump’s worst moments have occurred behind closed doors, and have become known to the public only second-hand, leaked by worried officials, aides, and advisers. Yesterday and today, we have seen a Trump temper-tantrum in real time on Twitter, extended over hours, punctuated only by stretch of fitful presidential sleep. Trump’s tweets yesterday focused largely on the blockbuster Wolff book, Fire and Fury.

It may not be the newsiest-- arguably it is the least newsy-- but the most important moment in Wolff’s book are words attributed at second or third-hand to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the time of Donald Trump’s election. “He will sign anything we put in front of him.”

Who and what Donald Trump is has been known to everyone and anyone who cared to know for years and decades. Before he was president, he was the country’s leading racist conspiracy theorist. Before he was the country’s leading racist conspiracy theorist, he was a celebrity gameshow host. Before he was a celebrity gameshow host, he was the multi-bankrupt least trusted name in real estate. Before he was the multi-bankrupt least trusted name in real estate, he was the protege of Roy Cohn’s repeatedly accused of ties to organized crime. From the start, Donald Trump was a man of many secrets, but no mysteries. Inscribed indelibly on the public record were the reasons for responsible people to do everything in their power to bar him from the presidency.

Instead, since he announced his candidacy in mid-2015, Donald Trump has been enabled and protected.

The enabling and protecting not only continues. It accelerates.

Before the Saturday morning tweets, what should have been the biggest story of the week was Trump’s success at mobilizing the Senate and the FBI to deploy criminal prosecution as a weapon against Trump critics. The Senate Judiciary committee-- the Senate Judiciary Committee! The committee that oversees the proper enforcement of the law!-- formally filed a criminal referral with the Department of Justice against Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous dossier about Trump’s Russia connections. The referral was signed by the committee’s chairman, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, without even notice to Democrats on the committee, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said; a startling abuse of majority status and a sharp departure from the norms of the Senate, especially a 51-49 Senate.

The Department of Justice can ignore such a referral. It’s ominous, however, that on the very same day, the FBI obeyed Trump’s repeated demands and reopened a long-closed criminal investigation into the Clinton Foundation. The FBI has come under relentless abuse from Trump, who complains about its refusal to do his will. Is it now yielding?

We also learned this week from the New York Times that aides to the Attorney General sought damaging information on Capitol Hill about FBI director Comey, indicating close cooperation between the White House and Main Justice to exert political control over the country’s chief law enforcement agency.

Michael Wolff has drawn the most indelible picture yet of Donald Trump, the man. But the important thing about Trump is not the man; it’s the system of power surrounding the man.

In 2016, there were voters who genuinely, in good faith, believed that Donald Trump was a capable business leader, moderate on social issues, who cared about the troubles of working class white America-- and would do something to help. There may well still be some people who believe this-- but nowhere near enough to sustain a presidency.

What sustains Trump now is the support of people who know what he is, but back him anyway. Republican political elites who know him for what he is, but who back him because they believe they can control and use him; conservative media elites who sense what he is, but who delight in the cultural wars he provokes; rank-and-file conservatives who care more about their grievances and hatreds than the governance of the country.

After the Trump pardon of Sheriff Arpaio for obstruction of justice, a popular conservative blogger tweeted this justification of the president’s shocking attack on the rule of law: “The main reason for President Trump to pardon Sheriff Joe was fuck you, leftists. The new rules, bitches.”

However crazy Trump may be, in one way he is indeed the “very stable genius” he claims to be: Trump understands how to mobilize hatred and resentment to his own advantage and profit. He has risen higher than Joe McCarthy or Charles Lindbergh or Theodore Bilbo-- and he has lasted already nearly a full year in office, holding the approval of one-third of the country, more than sufficient to keep him there for a full term.

Michael Wolff has done a crucial service, showing more intimately than any reporter yet the true nature of the man at the center of the American system. But without the complicity of other power-holders, Trump would drop from his central position like a tooth from a rotten gum. What we need to do now is widen the camera angle beyond Fredo Trump to the hard-faced men and women over his shoulders. Those are the people who put Trump where he is, and keep him there, corrupting the institutions of American democracy and troubling the peace and security of the world.

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At 5:59 AM, Blogger Ronnie Goodson said...

The question is, does the actions (or inactions) of some in the Republican Party cross the line from self-serving into the realm of treason?

At 6:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we are seeing is the corporate sponsorship of Trump to ensure that he destroys what remains of the American system of governance. Once it collapses, fascist corporatism can take over and rule by diktat. Those who are wealthy will be exempt (for now) from the worst excesses, but the rest of us will feel the full weight of oppression very soon. The tax "reform" bill is just the beginning.

At 7:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When a political "party" can only win by gerrymandering and fraud (for 20 years at least);
When a political "party" refuses to run the best candidates but only those who are wholly corrupt; commit fraud to ensure their worst candidate ever gets a nom; announce ahead of elections that they will repudiate their oath of office in a gamble for more votes;
When an electorate will eagerly vote for a serial adulterer, business fraudster, immature and arrogant asshole and boastful sexual predator;
When an electorate will eagerly vote for an openly corrupt lying warmongering neoliberal bankers' whore;

Considering all the above and more, who could possibly be surprised that trump was not inevitable, his party's servility not predictable and the hapless inept response of the "opposition" was not so pathetic?

Considering all the above, who would not expect that in the coming elections the American voters are to affirm even worse for our futures?

At 6:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget that he wouldn't BE in the white house if the Ds hadn't cheated Bernie out of the nomination.

Bernie would have trashed trump by 12 points nationwide and would have dragged a couple of D candidates into the senate in his wake (Feingold...).

But the D establishment could not abide anyone who does not blow rich donors.

You need to remember the Ds when assigning blame for trump.


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