By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist
So much has befallen us during a brief columnar break, it’s hard to choose where to resume. But let’s go with Trump, about whose disregard for and danger to our country there’s no longer doubt.
Maybe he believes his own lie that — but for a massive, super-coordinated plot, involving both parties in several states, undetectably faked ballots, highly selective voting machines, and secrets kept by thousands of people — he won the election. Fraud so carefully constructed that its very invisibility, repeated denial by Republican election officials and now, even Attorney Generally-compliant Bill Barr, proves its existence. Once and always the conman, Trump has raised over $170 million by flooding gullible supporters with pleas to help “save” the election, set up so he can use most of it however he wants. Delusion or deception, the more he rants, in more he rakes.
Millions of planted, nurtured and harvested Republicans believe. Maybe even Rudy, whose embarrassing act has been serially thrown out of court, even by Trump-appointed federal judges. How laughable must his arguments be for that to happen?
So, other than furthering the grift with a worrisomely demented 46-minute video tirade (“it’s statistically impossible I lost”), what’s Trump doing, amidst the pandemic’s brutal resurgence? Taking charge, honoring his duty of office, putting aside wounded ego for the sake of America? Golfing. Tweeting. Golfing. Lying. And golfing. His “presidency” was always pretense, holding rallies, tweeting and watching TV, dumping responsibility on others. Taking credit, never blame. Now he’s not even pretending to care.
Above all, history will remember Trump for his deeply destructive, unwell behavior since becoming a loser. Wounded, possibly hallucinating fraud in the absence of evidence, in language so inflammatory it endangers lives, he appears ever more detached from reality, as predicted by his niece, his ghost-writer, and his former bagman. Yet Congressional Republicans say nothing, as increasingly vicious death threats to truth-tellers, including from Trump’s own lawyer, force recipients to hire bodyguards. This disgrace to America is entirely on Trump. (NBC News: tinyurl.com/up-to-here)
Encouraging state legislators to overrule the will of their voters; threatening governors who certified elections; the unwillingness of his party to speak out: it’s a knife to the heart of the Republic without precedent. Long after Trump returns to kicking golf balls back onto fairways, the damage will remain, as his country-forsaking party continues twisting the blade.
Likewise, court-packing Mitch McConnell’s Supreme Court majority. In striking down New York’s restrictions on gatherings, they pushed the dagger to the hilt, spinning the First Amendment upside down. Covering all large groups, those restrictions in no way singled-out religion. SCOTUS, though, conferred special status. Like Trump, church/state separation is on its way out.
In their silence, Republicans show they need Joe Biden’s election to be considered illegitimate, lest he awaken their voters to the damage they and Trump have caused when he addresses it with much-needed seriousness. When competent leadership and a well-intentioned Congress are more vital than any time since the Great Depression, Republicans are AWOL. Even here, where a trounced candidate is similarly culpable in dismissing results of a fair election.
Previewing a future stump-speech, shape-shifting Marco Rubio called President-elect Biden “elitist” for bringing educated, qualified, experienced people into government. It’s a time-tested call to the chronically mystified. Future of the Republican Party, other presidential timberlings Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley have chimed in, too, and worse. (Washington Post: tinyurl.com/worse4u)
If Trump’s “presidency” is a stain on America that could conceivably fade, the devolution of his party, absent total tearing-down and rebuilding, is permanent. This post-election period has confirmed their disdain for democracy. Party to a minority of our population, it’s in their interest to discredit voting, as they resume what began with the swearing-in of President Obama: obstructing, complaining, offering nothing, no matter the harm.
Of which Trump’s creating as much as he can on his way out, especially to the environment. And his pardon of conspiracy-mad Michael Flynn, who subsequently called for a military junta, is an act Mr. Barr previously agreed would constitute obstruction of justice. (EmptyWheel: tinyurl.com/barrsaysno)
Then, for those who dismiss Trump’s Putin-cahootin’, there’s precipitously ending the “Open Skies” treaty to explain. No longer can the U.S. overfly Russia to observe, among other things, troop movements against neighbors. Making sure, he’s having the specially-equipped planes destroyed. And he’s threatening to veto the defense budget, which includes actions against international money-laundering, of which Putin, Russian oligarchs and, allegedly, he have partaken for years.
Post-election Trump is like the burglar who defecates on the bed after stealing a family’s treasures. Which is tricky while wearing a straitjacket.
Email Sid Schwab at email@example.com.