Here’s what I learned during my brief sabbatical last week: if you ignore it, it only gets worse.
The president*, installed at least in part by ratfckers in the employ of a former KGB thug now running a murderous kleptocracy, has at his easy disposal everything a dictator could possibly want. He has combined an instinctive contempt for democratic government with a swindler’s nose for easy cash and a junkie knifepoint robber’s reckless disregard for consequences. He has a tight, loyal cabal of flunkies who’d be chasing ambulances if it weren’t for their talents as sycophants. He has a largely impotent political opposition and a largely supine congressional majority. He is one vote away from a rubber-stamp Supreme Court.
He is consolidating power based on deceit at an alarming rate, and, worst of all, he is becoming more popular for doing so among the only voters that matter to him.
He is succeeding in his campaign to delegitimize any criminal investigation of his various schemes; he’s managed to put Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III on the right side of things. Hostile press, he can easily ignore. He is consolidating power based on deceit at an alarming rate, and, worst of all, he is becoming more popular for doing so among the only voters that matter to him.
According to the good folks at Gallup, the president*’s approval rating among Republicans is the highest of any Republican president since World War II at this point in his administration* with the exception of where George W. Bush was at immediately after the attacks of 9/11. He stands at 87 percent approval among Republicans. (Administration remoras already are fudging this data to imply that the president* is the most popular president at 500 days since World War II. A considerable number of people probably believe that by now.)
I know I occasionally am criticized for being harder on the NeverTrump Republicans than I should be—any port and all that—but many of them played prominent roles over the past four decades in fashioning a political party 87 percent of which approve of the slow-rolling catastrophe that is only now really picking up speed. It is entirely possible that the momentum now is unstoppable. The country is hurtling toward the destruction of its most basic ideas about itself, and some of these people played a leading role in constructing the handbasket. There has to be an accounting for that, somehow.
The prion disease began when the party ate the monkeybrains provided by Ronald Reagan, who served up crackpot economics leavened with a cynical alliance with splinter American Protestantism. It has gathered strength within the party, its symptoms becoming more and more obvious year after year.
Iran-Contra. Willie Horton. Atwater. Rove. Falwell. Graham. Luntz. Bauer. Gingrich. The Impeachment Kabuki. Florida. The lies undermining the Iraq War. Gay-baiting in the 2004 elections. The U.S. Attorneys scandal. Phony charges of voter fraud. The barbaric use of Terri Schiavo for political gain. The unprecedented obstruction, based in overt racism, of Barack Obama. The tolerance of Louie Gohmert, Steve King, Blake Fahrenhold, and Michele Bachmann. The endless flogging of the events at Benghazi.
And, finally, confronted with genuine, uncut, unfiltered, un-consulted authoritarianism, these people affect surprise that their party was ready for this president* or someone like him? Or that their party was helpless to stop him, or to confront him once in office? The Republican party abandoned its political innocence long ago. It’s only now just noticing.
As for the Democrats, they proved completely unable to accomplish the fundamental democratic duty of an opposition party: to crush the cruelty and lunacy of the Republicans at the polls until the Republicans regained their sanity. Over that same span of time, we saw too many powerful Democrats wasting time and money and political credibility wooing people so far gone with the prion disease that they no longer recognized the reality of their own lives, let alone the fact that those people were complicit in the destruction thereof. People voted against their own interest because, for too long, there was nobody capable of explaining that they were doing that. And, finally, confronted with genuine, uncut, unfiltered, un-consulted authoritarianism, Democrats affect surprise that the country isn’t more outraged than it is? The Democratic Party surrendered its innocence long ago. It’s only now just noticing.
Now, the president*’s legal team is being quite plain that it believes he literally is a law unto himself. First, a memo to that effect gets leaked stating that proposition quite openly. Then, Rudolph Giuliani, legal rodeo clown, is dispatched to the media to make that case in his own, inimitable drunk-uncle fashion. This was so obvious that even the largely anesthetized elite political class began to howl. It was followed by a Monday Tweetstorm that pretty much quintupled down:
As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018
The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018
Not that anyone actually is doing anything about it. Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, is cruising into comfortable retirement. The rest of the party looks at that 87 percent approval rating among the zombified, afflicted masses and hides behind the drapes. And the elite political media wavers between wringing their hands and marveling at the magnitude of the disaster. Axios, the website aimed at those people who miss the empty starfcking, historical illiteracy, and moral vacuity of the original Politico::
In 500 days, Trump’s hijacking of the formerly conservative GOP is complete — an astonishing accomplishment. The majority party in America is fully defined by his policies, his popularity with the base, his facts-be-damned mentality, his ability to control and quiet virtually all Republican elected officials.
This is all my bollocks. This administration* is the obvious culmination of 40 years of conservative Republican politics. A crude culmination, truly, but if you can’t see the through-line from Reagan’s assertion in November of 1986 that he had not “traded arms for hostages,” through the blizzard of untruth behind the push to invade Iraq, to this president*'s casual disregard of even a head-fake toward the truth, it’s because you’re not looking for it.
Worse than that is the tone of the piece. It reminds me of this passage from long ago:
I dropped the glass from my left eye almost immediately and watched the light climb upward. The light intensity fell rapidly, hence did not blind my left eye but it was still amazingly bright. It turned yellow, then red, and then beautiful purple. At first it had a translucent character, but shortly turned to a tinted or colored white smoke appearance.
That was a scientist named Ralph Carlisle Smith. He was describing the first atomic explosion in the history of the world. Look at all the pretty colors!
God, it’s good to be back.