We have put up with two years of the chaotic, amoral, demoralizing presidency of Donald Trump, the one-man crime wave and conman turned 45th president who seems to be able to get away with everything he does no matter how bad it is. It’s remarkable. But it isn’t going to last. His days of being unchecked are numbered.
Before he was president, Trump was generally viewed by New Yorkers in the know as a big loser, and for good reason. He was and still is a big mess as a person and as a leader. But now he is our loser president with lots of sychophants trying to protect him from the consequences of his misdeeds. He is doing a lot of damage as he clings to his base of nasty Rush Limbaugh infused talk radio listeners, doing what he can to make them happy along with Putin and the Saudis while making himself richer.
As we learn in the recent New Yorker article by Patrick Keefe, Mark Burnett, reality TV mogul, is to blame for re-launching Trump as a man who could be envisioned as presidential material by a celebrity inebriated culture. Burnett “discovered” Trump and made his image over for The Apprentice. That was the beginning of our nightmare.
When Mark Burnett concocted the idea for his reality show, Apprentice, and was in need of a likely person to play the real estate mogul, Trump was a failed entrepreneur. Burnett used the Wollman (ice skating) Rink in Central Park, which was controlled by Trump, for a live broadcast of the Season 4 finale of Survivor. Trump and Melania showed up for the finale, sitting in the front row, and Burnett made much of the Trump name for the audience of some 1500 spectators that day. Burnett realized that Trump could be a good choice to cast as the successful business man for his new reality TV show.
Producers working with Trump on the show recount that he was “frequently unprepared…with little grasp of who had performed well” and made impulsive decisions about who to fire, not based on the actions of the performers. “[E]ditors were often obliged to ‘reverse engineer’ the episode…in an attempt to assemble an artificial version of history in which Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip decision made sense.” The producers “often struggled to make Trump seem coherent, editing out garbled syntax and malapropisms.”
Trump was made to look good at all costs on The Apprentice and he got to say, “You’re Fired” over and over again for over a decade, helping a large number of Americans to envision him as the authoritarian leader we now have to put up with as our president.
We know more about who Trump really is at this point. The reality TV star president has been acting as if he is in the role of a reality TV president instead of a reality-based president. The damage is incalculable and we are only in the second year of this mess. Yet Trump seems to get away with doing things that would have destroyed former presidents.
This past week Trump secretly flew to Iraq for a photo op with the troops where he politicized what should have been an apolitical event. He unilaterally revealed the location of a Seal Team engaged in a covert mission in Iraq. If anyone else had done that, if an aide had done that, he or she would have been fired. But nothing happens to Trump. It seems like nothing ever happens to Trump when he does things that would have caused former presidents to be impeached.
Trump reportedly asked his acting AG, Matt Whitaker, to rein in the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York who are investigating his conduct. Trump says to Whitaker that these prosecutors are going “rogue”. If another president had done that, it would have been totally unacceptable and would have been one of the counts of his articles of impeachment.
Trump lies and lies. He lies with impunity. He is up to 7,546 false or misleading claims in 700 days of being in office. He even lies about being in the Oval Office when he is not there. He lies about signing bills over the Christmas holiday when he is actually signing a blank piece of paper. He takes credit for anything that is good (the rise of the stock market on his watch) and deflects blame (the recent precipitous fall of the stock market) without any regard for the truth.
So, how does he get away with it? How does he seem to elude or evade any consequences for what he does and says? Why is it that the rules do not apply to Donald Trump?
Here is part one of a two-part answer: since taking office, Trump has been marinating us in a culture of corruption, authoritarian thuggery, and disregard for norms, protocol, past practice, and rules. When Trump is called out, he and his sycophants tell us, “no one cares”. You hear that refrain voiced by commentators on CNN and other cable news stations. They say- Trump did this or that misdeed or violation of the rules, but “no one seems to care”. Sometimes they seem incredulous about it. Sometimes they state it as a reality. Trump says it all the time. Guiliani says it all the time. “Why does it matter?” “No one cares.” “It doesn’t matter.” When it comes to Trump, the Republicans who protect him have been insisting that reality, truth, law, rules, norms and facts do not matter. That is what they want us to believe. Because if we buy that version of reality, then Trump can get away with his endless mistakes, errors, violations of laws, norms and rules as well as his pretense and lies.
Here is the second part of the answer: consequences are about to catch up with Trump. He only got away with this nobody cares version of reality while the Republicans had both houses of Congress and protected him. Until now Mueller was investigating Russia-gate in relative silence with indictments of people who were distant Russians working in troll farms and for the GRU. Trump allies could still pretend that Russia-gate was a nothingburger. While there were only a few pending criminal cases wending their way through the courts shedding the harsh light of factual truth on some of his campaign staff like Manafort, and then Michael Cohen, Trump and his allies could still pretend that nobody really cared, and Trump was not involved. But Cohen’s guilty plea in a New York courtroom in which he named Trump as the director of the scheme Cohen carried out to help him win the presidency, is just the beginning of the cracks in Trump’s wall against the truth.
More is right around the corner.
- There are 17 court cases or investigations of Trump and/or Trump entities coming soon that will expose the public to factual information about Trump and how he operates like a mob boss engaged in a series of criminal enterprises.
- The Dems are taking the House January 3rd and will have open hearings to help to inform the public about Trump’s wrongdoings. Open hearings were helpful in getting the public on board with Nixon’s removal when it came to Watergate.
- Mueller is said to be close to making his findings known sometime in mid-February.
More factual information will be exposed, and these facts will matter but only if you and I insist that they matter. They will matter if we care.
The question will be whether Trump has succeeded in breaking us down, grinding us down, and deconstructing our cultural norms so much that we yawn and turn away, turn off our TV sets, ignore what is going on or chalk it up to general corruption. If we have that attitude, Trump wins.
If Trump and his syncophants can get us to give up on caring anymore, he wins.
Remember when Melania wore that jacket on her trip to visit children being held in detention at the border? Her jacket read, “I don’t care, do you?” That is the way Trump plans to win the battle to stay in power- by wearing us out.
The only reason Richard Nixon agreed to step down from the presidency was because the Watergate hearings exposed the truth to Americans. Angry Americans flooded Congress with telegrams calling for Nixon’s impeachment. The time will come when we are going to have to do the same thing only this time it will be emails, letters to the editor, and support for Indivisible, MoveOn and other groups that will push for the right result.
I believe most Americans do care. I think about 60% of the country is terribly upset and angry with Trump about what Trump has done both inside our country and in our foreign relationships.
Firing Mattis -a Travesty! Getting out of Syria without consulting anyone – Bad move! De-regulating everything that protects Americans from harm and failing to abide by the Paris accord when it comes to global climate change protections-Terrible! Failing to hold the Saudis responsible for Khashoggi’s shocking murder and dismemberment – Hideous! Separating children at the border and children being put into “icebox” holding pens, children dying in custody – Unacceptable! The Kavanaugh hearing -a Disgusting Farce! I could go on and on. There is so much he has done that is terrible and outrageous that it becomes hard for us to remember it all and to stay vigilant. But that is the point.
We have to.
We CANNOT forget.
We CANNOT accept.
We MUST stay outraged.
We HAVE TO keep caring.
If we do, we will be ready to stand up for our country as we did in the midterms, by resoundingly rejecting Trump and Trumpism, working with the Dems in the House, rising up to protest, insisting he be impeached if and when the time comes for that, and growing an even bigger Blue Tsunami for 2020.
So, here is my New Year’s resolution- I vow to keep caring. And I really hope, I passionately hope, you will make that your New Year’s resolution too! It’s a new year and a whole new reality is coming for Trump.