[Why does the GOP ignore and cover up likely criminal behavior and extreme national security lapses within the Trump administration?]
— RECENT HEADLINES —
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“AG Sessions Reinstates Enforcement of Federal Pot Laws; Some States Are Furious” (1/4/2018)
“Mueller Corroborates Much of Comey’s Congressional Testimony From Priebus’ Notes” (1/4/2018)
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“Mueller, Trump Team Enter Negotiations Over President’s Testimony in Russia Probe” (1/7/2018)
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“Federal Judges Rule N. Carolina Congressional Map Unconstitutionally Gerrymandered in 1st Ruling of Its Kind; Other GOP State Maps Threatened Before 2018 Elections” (1/9/2018)
“Steve Bannon Fired as Breitbart News CEO, Finalizing Mercers’ Financial Split With Him” (1/9/2018)
“Trump Stages Meaningless Public Immigration Negotiations; As Demonstration of Mental Stability, It Backfired: President Showed Feeble Understanding of Issues and Grossly Contradicted Self” (1/10/2018)
“Federal Judge Blocks President’s DACA Rescission While Lawsuits Are Pending” (1/10/2018)
“Trump Twitter-Attacks Sen. Feinstein, Says GOP Should ‘Take Control’ of Russia Probe” (1/10/2018)
“President to Senators in WH Immigration Mtg.: ‘Why do we want all these people from Africa [and Haiti] here? They’re sh**hole countries … We should have more people from Norway.’” (1/11/2018)
In case you’ve been isolated in the “sh**hole countries” of “Tann-ZANE-ee-yah” or “Nambia” (—thanks to Donald) since New Year’s Day, a book came out: Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. It does not flatter President Trump. Some key words and phrases that have emanated from extensive White House staff interviews describing the chief executive are “childlike,” “semi-literate,” “mentally unstable,” “idiot,” “he’s lost it,” and others. The book is the talk of Washington, D.C., and cable news. You should check it out.
Funny thing. The White House does not like this book.
The president tweeted his defense:
“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. … I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star … to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!”
(Trump, Donald, R-N.Y., U.S. president; Twitter post; 1/6/2018.)
I’ve often said Mr. Trump speaks like a 15-year-old valley girl. He overuses the word like, just as today’s valley girl descendants do. But even the most stable of us geniuses occasionally let slip a “like” for filler in everyday speech. Donald’s mind, however, loves the word so much that he actually wrote in the “like” in an official presidential communication (never mind the adolescent overuse of exclamation points). Let that soak in.
I won’t bore you with the myriad defenses of Donald’s smartness by members of his team. But Nikki Haley’s sycophantic comments warrant pushback:
“Was he unstable when he passed the tax reform? Was he unstable when we finally hit back at Syria and said no more chemical weapons? Was he unstable when we finally put North Korea on notice? Was he unstable when he said, wait, we need to look at Iran because this is getting to be a dangerous situation? Was he unstable with the jobs or the economy or the stock market?”
(Haley, Nikki, U.S. ambassador to U.N.; ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos; 1/7/2018.)
Nobody said The Donald is unstable all the time. His close advisers are successful occasionally at containing (read: babysitting) him and keeping the president quiet while cooler, more stable geniuses prevail. Then they let him take the credit afterward. With tax reform, he stayed out of the way, as exhorted to, so the GOP Congress could ram their bill through and embolden his harmful, thinly disguised plutocratic policies. With Syria, his do-the-opposite-of-Obama mentality, for once, fit with his generals’ judgment. With “jobs or the economy or the stock market,” again, all he had to do was stay out of the way, by not urinating on the strong six-year economic trends he inherited from his predecessor.
With “when we finally put North Korea on notice,” yes, the president was unstable. He used dangerous adolescent tweets, empty threats, and personal insults to conduct extremely sensitive foreign policy. With “we need to look at Iran because this is getting to be a dangerous situation,” yes, the president was unstable. He continues to play public political football with this issue, threatening to renege on a finely tuned agreement to prevent nuclear proliferation simply because the name Obama was connected to it.
Just listen to the BBC World Service for an hour: President Trump is embarrassing the U.S., scaring our allies, emboldening dictators, endangering our troops stationed in the “sh**hole” countries, and undermining our WMD bargaining power with North Korea. If you were Kim Jong Un (or a former Trump casino contractor), would you trust Donald to keep his side of a nuclear bargain?
The more unstable President Trump gets, the more traditional Republicans like Lindsay Graham and Paul Ryan cover for him. They are complicit in his precarious, frightening leadership. That’s because most of them are selfishly myopic. As one cable pundit explained, each faction is getting what it wants from Trump. And each one is willing to overlook likely criminal activity, national security lapses, and foreign interference in American elections to get more of what it wants.
The “White Lives Matter” (or better yet: “All Lives Matter”) crowd has a close ally in the president and his bigoted policies and sensibilities. The hard-line immigration wing is getting the expulsion of Haitians, Mexicans, and Salvadorans and thinks it is getting its wall. Both those contingents are getting presidential disparagement of Haitians and Africans as coming from “sh**hole countries.”
Donald’s ultra-rich peers and Republican mega-donors are getting their lopsided tax breaks. House Speaker Paul Ryan and tea party refugees still hope to eviscerate Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid. Ryan is willing to prostitute himself thoroughly for his hopes of creating an Ayn Randian utopia.
The GOP is getting what they want, so ix-nay on the ussia-ray obe-pray.
Sure, Democratic President Bill Clinton had his sexual harassment and illicit affairs scandal. As harmful as this was to the women involved and to the country’s psyche, however, this was an issue of one man’s personal shortcomings — for which a GOP Congress impeached him. Note that the Monica Lewinsky opprobrium originated with the Whitewater real estate investigation. Bill did lie about the women, but Special Prosecutor Ken Starr never found any wrongdoing in Clinton’s business or presidential behavior — other than that Monica thing.
So why are Republicans more likely to be involved in an administration-wide scandal? Because at its core, modern-day Republicanism is a selfish political ideology. Among other pillars, the Democratic philosophy is built on providing a safety net for disadvantaged Americans, especially children. The GOP can argue about whether lesser-off adults are deserving of government help. But the children have no say in their situation. If we want these kids to break the cycle and grow up to be law-abiding, productive citizens, they need Head Start programs, school-lunch programs, child care for working-poor parents, and health care insurance. They need a leg up.
The wealthy, the large business owners and investors who have benefitted from American infrastructure, compound interest, and a silver-spoon birth have an obligation to give back through a progressive tax system, to help people at the other end of the economic spectrum. Many of the super-rich like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett get this. The Trumps of the world do not.
Republicans, as a group, have narrow-minded views on this subject. Most of them always knew they could get an emergency loan from mom and dad. They always knew they could get bail money and a lawyer if they made a bad decision. They knew their parents would provide a temporary roof over their heads if they needed it. They could get a cavity fixed if they were short on funds. And many knew they could take some calculated risks in life, like starting a business or attending college, because they had family to fall back on if necessary. Many Democrats also knew this. But Republicans took it for granted. They are empathically challenged — as a voting bloc.
Millions of citizens do not have this safety net. Many don’t have a parent in a position to help them if they lose a job, have a run-in with the law, or can’t afford food or health care for their kids. Many of them don’t have a parent. As the analogy goes, life is a race, but not everyone is born at the front of the pack. Or try this one from George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are [born] more equal than others.”
Here’s the point: Democrats’ understanding of the need for a social safety net requires altruism and empathy. I’m talking as a group, now: we all know individual stingy Democrats and generous Republicans. But as a voting bloc, Democrats know helping poor families, especially the children, is good for society and good for our souls. We want to give those kids at the back of the pack a leg up.
This is why Republicans are more prone to Watergates and Russia-gates. Scandals like these involve a groupthink fed by tendencies toward selfishness (along with Newt Gingrich-like exaggerated animosity toward opponents and a certain comfort with disinformation and untruths). Again, Bill lied about sex with Monica. But his entire administration didn’t participate in widespread crimes and the cover-up of those crimes.
Republican/Democrat vs. Conservative/Liberal
Right about now, Republicans with their dander up will be saying things like, “Well the Republican Party is the party of Lincoln, and the Democratic Party fostered the KKK in the past.”
But party identification is ephemeral. Liberal and conservative philosophies are consistent, and that’s what matters.
I am a liberal. Had I lived in Lincoln’s time, I would have been a Republican rabidly supporting abolition. Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Donald Trump, conservatives, would have been Democrats fighting Lincoln and supporting “states’ rights.” I would have fiercely opposed Lincoln’s vice president, then president, Democrat Andrew Johnson, whose corruption was manifest in his sabotage of Reconstruction and opposition to citizenship for former slaves.
If I’d been alive during Democratic President Andrew Jackson’s day, I, as a liberal, would have been a Republican vehemently opposing his Indian relocation policies, phony populism, and tacit approval of KKK sympathies. Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Donald Trump, conservatives, would have been Jackson enthusiasts. This is why President Trump has a portrait of (Democrat) Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office and no portrait of (Republican) Abraham Lincoln.
Throughout history, I might have been a Republican, Democrat, or some independent combination, depending upon the decade. But I always would have been a liberal, as I am today — supporting a cultural safety net and fighting government corruption.
Go, Special Counsel Bob Mueller. ■