ON THE STRAWS PRECEDING THE BACK-BREAKING ONE

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.

Be Sociable, Share!

57 Responses to “ON THE STRAWS PRECEDING THE BACK-BREAKING ONE”

  1. mago Says:

    So who is managing the Russia story?

  2. Ellis Weiner Says:

    I agree. And, if you read Connie Bruck's profile of Bannon in Hollywood, you sense that the Evil Genius has a lot of world-historical theories but isn't all that effectual. Not that anyone can corral Trump–the idea that he's obedient to a "strategic adviser" is to laff.

  3. mothra Says:

    Well, Nixon had a Democratic Congress. That's one massive difference. Also, the Republicans in Congress in Nixon's time still cared a little about the United States. The lot we have are perfectly willing to kill Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security with nary a backward glance. Why would they do anything about Trump AT ALL? Unless his behavior causes campaign donors to back away from them and/or decreases their ability to find sweet, well-paying lobbyist gigs once they are out of Congress, then they will continue to blind themselves to whatever he does–or openly support it, like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

    The other problem is the DOJ. Sessions has zero moral compass. He has every interest in quashing the Russia story and I expect has made it his number one priority. Remember, you have to have a prosecutor willing to prosecute. We don't have that here at all.

    So, yeah, I am going to be a fatalist. We're fucked. Very, very, very fucked.

  4. Schmitt trigger Says:

    For the good of the USA and the whole world, I sincerely hope you are right.

  5. Sagas Says:

    It is entirely unclear to me if a Trump impeachment is helpful right now. Pence is a terrible person, but seems much more capable of enacting the (horrible) republican agenda. It seems like it might be better if we get through an offcycle election with Trump weighing down the party, and then hopefully affecting the next presidential cycle as well. Impeach too early and we might lose a lot of momentum. The republican leadership is probably doing that calculus as well.

    Of course, the danger with him staying is a potential existential crisis. I think on balance that's less likely, and keeping him helps more, but clearly this is crazy time.

  6. Mike Furlan Says:

    I'm optimistic. Even if Trump stays. This isn't Russia, yet where a current twitter tag is:

    Будет хуже

    It will get worse.

    Trump has energized the good people and we will do good and great things.

  7. Matt Says:

    investigating the trump campaign and Russia is like investigating if santa is real. Of course it's not real, sure there's fat bearded white guys who pretend to be him a couple months out of the year but just because that's the case doesn't mean a fatso is landing on your roof with toys and Christmas cheer any time soon.

    Democrats are sitting there waiting in front of the fire place in complete mental delusion waiting to see a drunk Putin bust through the wall like the kool aid man with Donald trump lagging behind. It's not going to happen. And it's a waste of everyone's time to keep hoping that he does

  8. Anubis Bard Says:

    I agree with Sagas. The Republicans have captured all three branches of government and not only is Trump is a millstone around their necks, but he's single-handedly inspiring a renaissance of organizing among progressives and moderates, not mention he's shocked journalists into waking from their stenographer's stupor. If we can weather a year of this we'll be within reach of the next election – and then present Pence with the poisoned chalice. That "if" is non-trivial, of course.

  9. Jestbill Says:

    @Matt: I want to see Santa's taxes.

  10. other bill Says:

    Shit is hitting the fan today…

  11. Lit3Bolt Says:

    Ok, US myopia is great and all, but for the rest of the world, having a Russian agent as POTUS is a big f*cking deal.

    So what we're now seeing is the entire Western digital spy apparatus directed against the White House and Congress.

    On the US side, they've already been burned by moles within their organizations. They have nothing left to lose.

    As a matter of simple game theory, the USSR (i.e. Putin) and the US joining forces should be a "woke" moment for any and all allies.

    History game theory: The racist money always loses. Eventually.

  12. Gerald McGrew Says:

    "It won't go away and will get worse"……not sure exactly what that means. We all know it's not going away, since it's an active investigation on 3 fronts, but what is "get worse"? Impeachment? Criminal charges? Jail time?

    At least here in Spokane, our local radio talk show host has guaranteed……GUARANTEED I tells ya'……that the outcome will be total vindication of the Trump team and convictions and jail time for the Obama people still in the gov't who are behind all the leaks.

  13. Old White Person Says:

    @Matt
    Love the analogy. More likely we'll see Russian banks and oligarchs sneaking in the back door holding IOU's from trump.

  14. Safety Man! Says:

    I'm doubling down that nothing will happen. I'd also caution to be mindful of who will come after Trump, and I don't mean Pence. If Trump is removed from office it will create another "stabbed in the back" narrative that will outlast the republic.

  15. democommie Says:

    Whether Trumpligula goes down like Nixon and doesn't decide that we can't LIVE without him and pushes the buttons will just have to play out in its own time.

    So far as crime and cover-up. I'm pretty sure that colluding with the Russians, especially if they actually did something that is a genuine attack on the U.S. is gonna be a pretty big item if there's proof.

  16. democommie Says:

    What we need to see is a backlash so strong that it will bring the sideliners into the game. If they were for Trump, I think that they voted. If they weren't and they hated Hilz or just don't do politics, they may decide that luxury is one that they need to do without.

    One hopes.

  17. Isaac Says:

    @Gerald. Howdy! I'm out in the valley by the Argonne library.

    There are no sensible Republicans. Not in office, not in leadership. Cranky old John McCain is right twice a day, but that's not very useful.

    There's no reasoning with their supporters. They have been convinced for DECADES that the "Liberal commie dems" are the worst thing ever. The hatred for Carter, Clinton, Obama is permanent, they bring it up all day every day in every conversation. Hell, in certain circles Ruby Ridge is still fresh and regularly chewed over.

    I agree with Sagas, Pence is more capable of enacting the badness. Thing is, doesn't matter what happens to Trump, Mitch and Ryan are still there, with a deep, deep bench of sonsofbitches to replace them if need be.

  18. urizon Says:

    It will continue to get worse. It won't go away. And who cares? Not the GOP in congress. They. Don't. Give. A. Shit. They will never impeach him in a million years. Never.

  19. Furloaded Says:

    If Trump starts feeling real heat, he'll use it to start a Reichstag fire.

  20. quixote Says:

    Two — two! — great expressions today. "Managing by tantrum." Perfect.

    And over on First Dog on the Moon (Guardian): the boffinarium.

    Ahhh. Nothing like perfect words in the morning.

  21. Gerald McGrew Says:

    @Isaac, how cool! I'm literally just a few miles from you (on Montgomery in the valley). So you know I'm talking about Mike Fitzsimmons on 920 AM. What a tool, eh?

  22. Gerald McGrew Says:

    Today has been positively fascinating, as the right-wing media and White House staff all try and read from the same script…..Trump only fired Comey because Sessions and Rosenstein recommended it…..only to be immediately contradicted by Trump himself, who tells NBC that he was going to fire Comey regardless, and had made the decision to do so BEFORE the Sessions/Rosenstein memo was even written.

    I imagine it's gotta be maddening for these folks. On one hand they're psychologically predisposed to be loyal to their boss, but OTOH he constantly undermines their efforts to do so.

  23. Periscope Says:

    Waiting for Ed's next…"On the progress of metastasis". Till then, I've got $20 on McCabe getting fired before the end of June.

  24. democommie Says:

    Periscope:

    I'm thinking that he's going to be lucky to have a job on Monday morning.

  25. MS Says:

    GOP owns all three branches of government. That's not going to change in 2018 or even 2020. Trump won't be impeached. The GOP won't turn on him. He'll likely win reelection in 2020 vs. some corporate right Democrat. By the time most of the Democrats are purged from the voter rolls, Trump will likely win 40 states.

    After all, the Democrats are about to take away your Medicare and Medicaid. Trump is trying hard to defend those programs, but he just can't manage it. Fox is all over it! And once the war starts in Asia, people will be pulling together to support our troops.

    "It's just crazy, somehow all the Democrats aren't eligible to vote any more! And the Supreme Court said it's okay!"

  26. April Says:

    They're gonna get him on taxes and money laundering. And he's pissed of the FBI. They aren't going to let this go.

    Ok, call me a cock-eyed optimist, if you will, but I really believe, that when push comes to shove, there are enough repugs who will throw him over to save their own slimy skins.

  27. democommie Says:

    I'm a pretty cynical motherfucker but JEEZUZ, people, buck up!

    Ed:

    If you had been thinking abou this when you started you could have had posts, Like, "The Nature of Earthquakes", "The Properties of Wind" and "On Getting Ours Before The Whole Shithouse Goes Up In Flames" and that woulda been an "Earth, Wind and Fire" theme with allathat cool music.

  28. Oriscus Says:

    "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."

    The test is how craven the current Democratic Party and its leadership are when it comes to defending their own and maintaining themselves in power over their party apparatus.

    (WWWKS – What would Walter Karp say?)

  29. Noskilz Says:

    One of the really jarring – but perhaps unsurprising – things is that Trump is both a really terrible president and really terrible at being a president. As in he really doesn't seem to understand the job he's occupying – and there are enough people around him who should be able to fill in those details for him.

    I don't find it hard to imagine that he won't serve out his term – he seems determined to make every possible mistake in the most flamboyant way possible.

    It's almost like that Family Guy skit where Peter lists all the shows that would have had to fail for the show to return, except in this case you would substitute Trump explaining how many seemingly obviously self-destructive things he'd have to do to get impeached and ticking them off as he goes. He may not there yet, but he seems to be doing everything he can to get there as quickly as possible, which is a bit strange since it seems there are many GOP Congressmen and Senators who would be delighted to help bury his problems if only he wouldn't keep dredging them up.

  30. NickT Says:

    When I contemplate Trump and the Russians, I find myself thinking like Berliners in 1945:

    "Enjoy the war – the peace will be terrible."

  31. define and redefine Says:

    "And once the war starts in Asia, people will be pulling together to support our troops."

    We have always been at war with Eastasia.

  32. Qwerty Pi Says:

    On the bright side, whatever former preznit you might have in mind
    as the worst one ever has just moved up a notch.

  33. geoff Says:

    @April, you're a cock-eyed optimist!!

    My early am conspiracy theory today is that it's not those pesky Russians who are blackmailing/ puppeteering Trump but instead "our" (USian) own intelligence "services" (NSA/CIA/FBI/NOAA*) and MIC. Flynn (admittedly a nutball) didn't last a month, and Trump has already lobbed a bunch of Tomahawks at Syria and now is talking about yet ANOTHER fucking troop "surge" in Afghanistan. So much for non-interventionism.

    In (slightly) less foily mode, if the IC has some kind of "smoking gun" on a Trump/ Russia connection, I think we would have seen it by now. Like I keep saying, former DNI Clapper has repeatedly said he has seen no evidence indicating collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. On the other hand, former AG Sally Yates (testifying with Clapper) refused to answer that question, saying essentially, "that's classified". So hell, who knows?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/05/08/full-transcript-sally-yates-and-james-clapper-testify-on-russian-election-interference/

    *That was a joke.

  34. democommie Says:

    If FUP's* were measured like earthquakes, in orders of magnitue.

    Obama would be hovering somewhere around a 2, B43 would be a 7.8 and Trumpligula would be the level of the Jurassic Extinction Event** of 65+/- million years ago.

    * Fucked Up Presidencies

    ** Yeah, I know the difference between this and an earthquake. Trumpligula doesnt and a far too large %age of his Diplorables don't believe in 65M years ago.

  35. Safety Man! Says:

    @April

    Don't forget that Trump already seriously pissed off the CIA, and now the FBI.

    If we see an unprecedented midterm surge Trump might get impeached. Not holding my breath.

  36. Tim H. Says:

    I don't suppose the GOP types would be offended if "Herr Drumph!" took advantage of an overly impressionable intern…

  37. Misterben Says:

    I strongly doubt the GOP would ever move to impeach. No matter what evidence is presented, they'll cry "fake news" and drag out their defense to the next election. Maybe even "wag the dog" a little – Syria, Afghanistan, one of those.

    I also doubt the FBI or CIA would do anything. The vast majority of those people are so far on the right they can barely see Jeff Sessions in their rear-view mirror.

  38. Matt Says:

    If you're going to make the outrageous claim that trump is obstructing justice by firing James comey you are also implying that comey is capable of conducting a legitimate investigation. No one democrat or republican really thinks that he was especially after the Clinton email probe. Dems think he treated her unfairly. Republicans think he went too easy on her. Bottom line is the entire country thought he was a dope, yet Barack HUSSEIN Obama allowed this dolt to continue marginalizing the credibility of the FBI. Obama planted comey in there knowing he was going to deep 6 the agency allowing his cronies like crooked Hillary to get off Scott free… that's the epitome of obstruction of justice and Barack HUSSEIN Obama should have been impeached for it

  39. Periscope Says:

    @ Geoff

    I think the IC is reticent to take findings to a grand jury until they have an air tight case. It's probably not easy getting documents to prove connections to laundered money, and the potential witnesses keep finding themselves in unfortunate accidents. What suicidal fool would want to step forward to defend a 'righteous cause' and live out the rest of their lives in constant fear of retribution even if they were under the protection of the feds. This ain't no Law and Order episode.

  40. Talisker Says:

    Trump lacks Nixon's sense of honour and dignity, such as it was. He won't resign and go quietly; he'd have to be impeached, and then dragged sobbing from the White House by Federal marshals.

    Yeah, Pence would be worse in some ways, but at least that would be a rich, tasty banquet of schadenfreude.

  41. templar423 Says:

    Matt, you seem angry. Calm down. Go see a movie. I hear Guardians is a lot of fun.

  42. democommie Says:

    Matt

    You're either a Poe (not that convincing) or just one in a long, boring line of lying asshole trolls. Either way, you're schtick ain't all that.

    Go educate yourself, or just go.

  43. mothra Says:

    templar423: hard to tell if Matt is a parody or real. Regardless, he does give us valuable insight into the viewpoints of Trump supporters–well, and Republicans in general. The majority of Republicans STILL support Trump. Which is another reason he's not going anywhere. Republican Congresscritters don't feel any threat to their seats whatsoever.

  44. geoff Says:

    @Periscope, if it were actually the case that the IC (let's say the FBI and/or NSA) had some kind of evidence against the President*, I don't think a grand jury would work. Wouldn't they need to go to the leadership of the House of Representatives instead, since they're the ones who would need to indict (impeach) Trump?

    * See above.

  45. Gerald McGrew Says:

    I liked Rachel Maddow last night, where she figured she had a big news scoop (Paul Manafort hasn't registered as a foreign agent and is working with the US gov't, which may mean he's going to spill the beans), but Trump overshadowed that by telling NBC that he specifically fired Comey to put a stop to the Russia investigation. And if there was any doubt, the deputy press secretary also directly stated that Trump fired Comey to bring the Russia investigation to an end. So much for the Manafort thing being the big story of the night!

    And as Maddow put it, if you were teaching a course and wanted to craft a textbook example of obstruction of justice, you would be hard pressed to come up with one more obvious than a President firing the FBI director specifically to halt an investigation into the President and his campaign.

  46. S M McBean Says:

    define and redefine is 100% correct!

    We have NEVER been at war with Eastasia.

  47. X-RWU Says:

    I've been hearing some certain types of people go on about how the same people who demanded Comey's head on a plate/spike/whatever are now complaining about his being fired. Any thoughts on that?

  48. democommie Says:

    I wanted Comey gone. I'm pissed that he walked out of the building a free man.

  49. Aurora S Says:

    @democommie–

    I don't think I've yet heard anyone nail it so succinctly. Well played, old chap.

  50. April Says:

    DC – it ain't over till it's over. And I'm telling you, conservative or not, the rank-and-file FBI people are PISSED. That's going to help us a lot!

  51. Katydid Says:

    Trump has pissed off the FBI, the CIA, and possibly the NSA. He's making some powerful enemies.

  52. democommie Says:

    It's too bad that the three of you didn't post in a slightly different oreder–Happy Mothers' Day, btw–I could then just put: @ AKA and, I think, you would all get it.

    @ Aurora: Thank you, I try.

    @ April: Yes, I think that's true.

    @ Katydid: I'm fairly certain that if you work for someone in gummint that's identified by its initials–Trumpligula's pissed off your bosses.

  53. Katydid Says:

    LOL at the AKA, and thanks for the good wishes! My gift today is "some peace and quiet"–one kid had a final yesterday plus another one tomorrow and called for a brief hello, the other is hip-deep in a lab experiment and sent a text. Spouse took the dog for an hourlong hike.

    Trump operates the same way much of my extended family do, and I've never understood it–why *gratuitously* piss off people who can make your life a living hell? I mean, if they come after you, sure, stand up and fight back, but what weird mental defect makes people go on the warpath like that?

  54. April Says:

    Thanks, DC. Fleurs. My daughters always send me some. True story – one of my younger daughter's co-workers asked her "How do you send flowers to China?" My daughter took her to the computer and typed into google "How to send flowers to China".

    My daughter is a friggen brainiac, I tells ya!

  55. Katydid Says:

    @April; enjoy your flowers! And your smart daughter!

    My dog gave me a pile of half-chewed up crayons. My "baby" is 20; I had no idea we even had crayons in the house, but he found them. It was very colorful.

  56. Major Kong Says:

    @X-RWU

    It's like firing the employee who always shows up late and misses their deadlines – because they wouldn't have sex with you.

  57. democommie Says:

    There is yet one other factor in the mix that I haven't really thought about.

    It is true that when Nixon was sliding slowly (far too slowly) towards the abyss that he did not have a GOP controlled congress. So, they dragged it out as long as they thought they could do so and not have any real "butcher's bill" to pay, politically.

    If the GOP sits on this and, all of a sudden, some weird shit happens that convinces a shitload of fencestraddlers and benchwarmers that it is NOT in their short-term best interests–never mind the long term–to continue the "experiment" we could wind up with a different congress. Unlikely, yes. Impossible, no.

Leave a Reply