ON THE STRAWS PRECEDING THE BACK-BREAKING ONE

Posted in Rants on May 11th, 2017 by Ed

There was a good deal of (always welcome) criticism of two similar previous posts drawing parallels between the Russia scandal and Watergate. The most common charge was that I am excessively optimistic and fail to consider how craven the modern Republican Party and its leadership are when it comes to defending their own and maintaining themselves in power. In other words, things are Different now and the people in control of Congress are unlikely to turn on one of their own no matter what. Even if he's not really one of their own, he is a useful idiot.

The original post, "On the Nature of Tides" was general and preceded the inauguration by a week. The second, "On the Properties of Wind," was from late March and emphasized that Trump had not even been in office for 90 days at that point and the Russia problem is not one that would be resolved immediately. Instead, it was/is likely to smolder and get worse over time. That point Trumdeserves some additional emphasis this week.

First, remember that this administration has barely crossed the 100 day mark. It remains unrealistic to think that any Congress, even one with principles, would have railroaded any president out of office by this point. What we are learning this week – and this is crucial – is that the Russia story is never going to go away. It may briefly be pushed off the front burner in favor of some momentary flare-up, but it keeps fighting its way back into the headlines. The most persuasive reason to believe it will keep doing so – and this is equally crucial – is that Trump is very stupid and he will keep doing things to bring attention to it and make it worse.

It is worth remembering that not only did it take time for Watergate to torpedo Nixon but the crime itself was not what brought him down; the attempts to cover it up, including efforts to stifle the FBI that amounted to abuse of power and interference with an investigation, were ultimately fatal. It is easy for fatalism to set in, and these days liberals talk as though suffering from political PTSD – the big strong man is invincible, nothing will ever get better, everything is hopeless. This line of argument ignores one of the most obvious and important things about the man in question: He is incredibly stupid, impulsive, and childish, and as a result he will continue to manage the Russia story by tantrum, guaranteeing that it will never go away and it will get worse with time.