It has already been a devastating day. I apologize ahead of time. I am in a stupor. It appears to me that some people – like the readers typically here – do recognize the utter devastation unleashed upon our democracy today, but most people do not, or even support it, leaving me breathless.
Trump declared that he has the ability to pardon himself. He also stated that the investigation against him is unconstitutional. There is only one reason to state that the investigation against him is unconstitutional. He intends to end it, or ignore it, the result will be the same, regardless of which he chooses.There is only one reason for a president to mention that he can pardon himself, that is to warn those who might threaten charges, and galvanize his base, readying them for the day that he pardons himself from charges brought by an unconstitutional investigation.
One person who clearly understands the depth of despair and outrage every true patriot ought to feel today is Charlie Pierce at Esquire, who notes, “Trump has access to everything a dictator could want.” He takes us further into the fascist jungle:
[Trump] 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.
I am watching the White House daily briefing with the inexcusable Sarah Huckabee Sanders who will not answer a simple question, acting as if today is just like any other day in the history of this democratic republic – which it is not. She has been asked: “Does the president believe he is above the law?” Like every other substantive question put to this administration she had dodged, deflected, and acted put off, stating only that “the president has done nothing wrong,” and “the constitution lays out the law regarding pardons,” she has also referenced “constitutional scholars” as if there is a consensus, as if all scholars believe the obviousness of the fact that the president can pardon himself. No one in the administration has even cited one constitutional scholar whom the “president” relies upon in making this statement.
Moreover, Huckabee-Sanders will not answer a single question about the letter intentionally leaked to the NY Times, referring all questions to outside counsel, knowing that no “outside counsel” is going to answer questions concerning a document they don’t want questioned. Interestingly, a reporter asked Huckabee-Sanders about the admission in the letter that the president “dictated” a statement on behalf of Don Jr. and she stated that was inaccurate, that the president had not dictated a statement, leaving one NBC reporter wondering if they can ever believe a statement from Huckabee-Sanders again, given that someone on the president’s team is clearly lying. The fact that a lie that could easily form the basis of a criminal charge is hanging over the White House like a flag doesn’t seem to bother them at all. I doubt it does.
Back to Pierce:
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.
Please note that last sentence and drink it in. Trump is polling at 87% approval among Republicans. At 500 days into his administration, Trump is polling higher than any Republican president, with the exception of George W. Bush in the days after 9-11, and Trump’s team is already working a technicality around that fact, fudging more data, in order to say without equivocation that Trump is polling higher than any other president (with Republicans) since World War II.
Certainly, approval ratings do not mean what they used to mean when much of the public could see themselves voting for either party. Nowadays, if you’re a Republican, you support what Republicans do, period. So, it is not surprising that a Republican president polls high with Republicans. It IS surprising that this president, this one, who most Republicans opposed in the primaries, doing what he’s done, with the clear evidence of obstruction and conspiracy already public, do still support this president, and not just a little.
My last reference to Pierce, who you really ought to read today, as a citizen’s duty:
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.
This has been long coming, I do admit. Republicans, since Iran-Contra, since Florida, since the Iraq War, since Judge Garland and all the obstruction of Obama, have been building toward a government spiteful of science, devoid of fact, free from law, immune to shame, but it just hit me hard today, those two tweets, I cannot get them out of my head. Where is the outrage? Where are the articles of impeachment? Why are Republicans tolerating this?
I see this as the single biggest “act” taken by the United States government – a tweet by a president is an official act, whether the general public wants to acknowledge it or not, since Bush declared war on Iraq. I saw a White House press corp apoplectic, demanding answers, and the same monotone Huckabee-Sanders acting as if she were a normal spokesperson for a normal president. It all feels so “normal” today. That’s the horror, in my mind, and a few others.
I hope I am not alone. If you’re outraged, let people know, because it is time for outrage, like never before.