Terry H. Schwadron
Jan. 18, 2019
No doubt, this is the week of the No Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
No matter how you cut it, this is the week we toast futile efforts at one-upsmanship for partisan political purposes, at trying to gain a upper hand in the current tussle that only started with the Wall and has descended from there to an absurd Trump-Pelosi mudfight.
For President Trump to stop a military flight for a congressional trip to Afghanistan and NATO to check in with the troops and allies one hour before the plane was to take off plumbed new lows for pettiness and Me First-ism. For the president to feel that he had retaliate against Speaker Pelosi is insane.
For Pelosi essentially to disinvite Trump from giving the State of the Union speech at its appointed time with its backdrop of congressional clappers was maybe one step more clever in political maneuvering, but still pretty low on the pettiness scale.
At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pelosi won in an arm-wrestling set-to on the White House snowy front lawn. Make no mistake here, all allegiances aside, Pelosi is winning, and Trump is looking like a desperate man flailing as he chases a white whale.
Unfortunately, the losers are the 800,000 federal employees furloughed or forced to work for no pay — a tactic that seems singularly unfit to sway anyone’s opinion about whether to stretch a concrete or steel-slat Wall across 3,000 miles of Southern border.
Yesterday brought had already started with endless repetition of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani yelling on television that he had never said that there had been no collusion possible involving the Trump presidential campaign and Russian intelligence operatives. Indeed, Giuliani no longer says there was no collusion; he says he sees no evidence for Trump personally to have colluded with Russians.
The spectacle of Giuliani forgetting the 2,000 times he has gone on public airwaves to deny any suggestion of collusion between the campaign and Russians was beyond ludicrous. It was downright stupid. Even, as some pundits were trying to argue, if this effort was really a clever way to defuse any eventual emergence of Special Counsel reports of criminality or bad electoral behavior or worse, the Giuliani show was an insult to the American public.
Still, you have to give it the credit of almost covering the disclosures on the same day or so that former Trump fixer Michael Cohen had paid a company, including a blue Walmart bag filled with cash and a boxing glove used by a Brazilian mixed martial fighter, to fake online political polling — which are not really polls at all — to promote the business acumen of almost-candidate Donald Trump, early enough that Trump had not yet publicly declared his candidacy. The actions, which did contribute to the campaign, almost certainly represent yet more violation of the nation’s campaign finance laws, albeit at a much less severe level than, say, playing footsie with Russian intelligence operatives. BuzzFeed news also quoted two law enforcement officials as saying that Cohen has been telling the special counsel that Trump told him to lie to Congress about Trump Organization business in Moscow.
And, just tangentially, the effort did not work to have a public poll declare Donald Trump as among the nation’s top 100 businessmen. A second poll did produce results to place Trump as the fifth most popular candidate among Republican candidates as he was announcing his candidacy.
All in all, this one day needed to preserve itself in plastic as some kind of commemorative of how far down the rabbit hole towards a base, cruel, truth-free, personality-laden, crazy level of conducting the public business of our society. It belongs on a public shelf somewhere where we can all remind ourselves of exactly what we don’t want to pass as government or our governing class.
For Pelosi to ask Trump to delay the State of the Union address will not deny Trump of any ability to make his case on the Wall or on his presidency in general. After all, the president is out there daily with unwanted tweets, speeches, photo ops and, this week, a poorly conceived televised speech to the nation that was little more than a staid repetition of his standard I-want-a-Wall speech. It may have been cheeky, but it wasn’t Wrong.
For Trump to deny military transport to Congress to a war zone does block congressional oversight data-gathering. Bipartisan delegations would have met with the same NATO officials that the president actually is suggesting that the United States abandon. This move was so Wrong that there is no way for it to be Right. For Trump to have suggested that Pelosi take commercial air traffic into a war zone is literally putting her life at risk. To do all of this as the military jet was revving up is simply nuts.
For Giuliani to let his mouth think for him is all Wrong. For Cohen to talk about doing Wrong, in the end, will likely prove Right.
In the meantime, we have a Game of Thrones situation going on with insults, childish attempts at one-upsmanship and revenge efforts fully under way.
Just put the folks back to work and stand 10 paces away from one another to throw your next mud pie.