Dan Rather is in his 90s. He’s seen a great many things. He was a key reporter when Watergate was happening and he saw the Nixon debacle first hand. A man who is less than a decade shy of 100 years is somebody who we should listen to. Here are his views on today’s indictment bombshell:

A thunderclap hits the headlines.

How long does it take for the full impact to sink in? Can we even comprehend all that it implies?

While we knew another indictment for Donald Trump was likely, it is impossible to be fully prepared. There will be much to parse and analyze in the days to come.

But one central fact we already knew. Because we saw it happen. In real time.

Yes we did. Indeed we did. But do you know the scam that right-wing media and Trump are pulling? Let me refresh your recollection.

The MAGAs are so stupid that they didn’t bother to remind themselves that the only person in power in Washington on January 6 was the still-sitting president, which was Trump. Nobody else.

There is no yardstick in our national story by which to measure this moment — a former and potentially future president stands accused of abusing his office and undermining the safety and security of our republic. We have written some form of this sentence countless times before. But the cumulative repetition does not lessen its impact as we consider the depths to which Trump allegedly sank.

Yet to focus only on the man is to miss the full contours of this perilous story. Today’s indictment is a legal document. But it is also part of a more sweeping historic and political indictment of our times. For Trump couldn’t have done this alone. Today represents an indictment of all who validated his vile indulgences, whitewashed his wantonness, disguised his depravity, legitimized his lawlessness, and acquiesced to his autocracy.

Meanwhile, Trump is not the only one facing trial. We all are. What kind of country will we have? How much are we willing to fight for our ideals? Our future?

Today marks a reckoning, but it’s far from a resolution. The danger Trump and his legions of MAGA supporters pose remains very present, very real, and very dire. The polls indicate this con man, divisive charlatan, and wrecking ball to the rule of law is running away with the Republican nomination for the presidency. And he looks, at this point, despite everything, to be competitive with President Biden. He could be reelected.

The more scrutiny he receives, the more evidence of his unfitness for office is laid out publicly, the more his stalwarts rally behind him. Trump has no coherent or persuasive rejoinders to the numerous charges he faces. He instinctively relies on his overused playbook of lies, divisiveness, and dystopian rhetoric. It’s all he’s got. Nevertheless, his crowds roar their delight without hesitation.

A campaign rally, however, is not a court of law. And Special Counsel Jack Smith seems to have a meticulousness that matches Trump’s recklessness. The former president’s antics may drive the Republican faithful to euphoria. Will that work in court or at the ballot box next November?

I have no idea what the future holds. But I know the sagacity of that song lyric by the Doobie Brothers, “What a fool believes, he sees.” The MAGAs believe what they’ve been fed by Fox News. They think Trump is being victimized and they cannot and will not look at any kind of facts beyond right-wing media. They simply insist, like a school child on the playground that they’re right and you’re wrong. You cannot reason with these people. I have tried and come away fuming at the obtuseness I’ve encountered.

2023 and certainly 2024 are years which will go down in American history as pivotal. The entire Trump era will go down as pivotal. 2016 was the year that democracy went into a strange cul-de-sac. We are still trying to turn around and find our way back out again.

I believe it was Charlie Sykes who said, “The hangover from the Trump era will last at least a decade.” Let’s pray that it even ends then.

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  1. To paraphrase Rather, Smith’s rigor matches trump’s rage. More than matches, exceeds. You can show intelligent people the facts and they will accept them, but as my barber says, “You can’t fix stupid.” The core cult will circle their wagons around TFG and defend him with whatever they can muster. They’re history’s losers and will be forgotten.

  2. Watergate? Rather goes back even before that. He was in Dallas when JFK was assassinated so add that to the list of iconic history he’s been involved in reporting. The guy has seen and covered as much of our history as any journalist I can think of. And, despite his age he’s still got it. That mind of his and how he can articulate unfolding events is a national treasure.

    • My most vivid Dan Rather memory is his getting decked by a Chicago police officer WHILE ON AIR as a floor reporter during the 1968 Democratic convention.

      He certainly has been around.


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