Terry H. Schwadron
Nov. 13, 2019
Wait a minute! The week’s events have me trying to clear the fog — again — just as we dive into these public hearings with built-in hijinks meant to fog it up again.
John Bolton, the militaristic former national security advisor to I-don’t-want-U.S. troops-abroad Donald Trump, is prepared to tell Congress a different story than the president out pressuring the Ukraine for political dirt, but he suddenly wants court permission, anyone’s permission actually, to do what he thinks is the right thing to do, to answer a legal subpoena if Democrats actually issue it?
Bolton insists that he only will testify in public, apparently seeking to avoid letting either side know what his testimony would say or hot exactly it would fit? Instead, we get public teases that there were lots more meetings with Trump about Ukraine and other topics that he believes the Democrats who are pushing impeachment might want to know about?
Or this: Bolton, defender of the deepest state system that Trump could imagine, wants to withhold his testimony, but he can go ahead and sign a book contract a reported $2 million advance for his most controversial disclosures for personal gain?
And now we learn that Bolton’s folks are angry with acting Chief of Staff Mike Mulvaney for trying to join the same lawsuit, only to see him a back off as a result? That’s a rich move, Bolton’s folks say, because Mulvaney is in the Ukraine mess up to his neck — or at least Bolton might say something like that publicly, under subpoena, even before a book deal, if only asked properly after a court says it’s okay.
It’s a parade of righteousness on parade, of patriotism and the desire to put the country ahead of private gain — — Not.
Hey, would someone remind all these yahoos that they work for us, that the Constitution gives Congress the right to oversight and that we’re demanding some oversight here?
Just yesterday came word that Trump has been considering firing the independent inspector general who passed along the whistleblower report to Congress, because he finds the inspector general, Michael Atkinson, “disloyal” in carrying out his job.
And there were sourced reports of a fight in the White House between acting chief of staff Mike Mulvaney and the chief White House lawyer Pat Cipollini about how to defend the president even as Trump himself was tweeting out that, yes, he meant to go after the Bidens, and doesn’t care who knows it. And that his phone calls were perfectly fine.
As all this was playing out, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s book did come out, and it shouts that former Chief of Staff John Kelley Jr. and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were trying to get her to join in an unholy trinity to keep Trump from running the country’s foreign policy into the ground.
Okay, strange enough. But then she is claiming the moral high ground for backing Trump in seeking to undercut NATO, drop defenses against Russian aggressiveness and backing for the world’s most ardent dictators? And now, Republican sources are hinting heavily that she would be a better vice-presidential partner than Mike Pence?
We have Trump, days after having been told by a court that he was guilty of fraud and cheating through his charitable foundation, speaking publicly to veterans, the very people he stiffed through the charity. This is to say nothing of the Muslim vets, the whistleblower vet, the many veterans that Trump has singled out for insult and injury.
We have Trump virtually unable to walk outside the White House unless he is going before a predictably comfortable crowd at an Alabama-Louisiana football game.
What happened to Common Sense? What happened to logic and persuasion, public ownership of political positions, moral backbone to do the Right Thing?
I’m doing my best in the name of fairness to listen to the Lindsey Grahams, Rand Pauls and other Republicans in Congress who express opinions. But it is long has passed the bar of political weirdness to turn the events of the campaign to pressure the new, untested Ukrainian president into promising investigations on Trump’s real and imagined political enemies in trade for lethal military aid to fight actual invading Russians.
But these guys are making it more than difficult to do so. The public flailing in response to each reported public testimony, the abject lying to protect the president, the denial of reality is scarier than the pre-determined outcome of any impeachment trial.
What we ought to start focusing on pretty quickly is what we’re going to do once Trump and his unconstitutional doings are patted on the head by Senate Republicans and allowed to go ahead as if nothing has happened here.
We already have the highest levels of the White House basically questioning and resisting what the president of the United States is telling them to do. We have Trump and cronies working to undercut and attack anyone who criticizes him. We have a president who insists literally that he should be absolved not only from criminal proceedings, but any review whatsoever.
When people like the hugely intelligent analyst Bill Moyers is going around talking about the death of democracy, we ought to be paying attention. He is looking for language to describe the ruination of the institutions of democracy.
He might start with looking anew at MAGA, Making America Greatly Angry.