The chaos starts at the top and is meant to wear you down so that you start to accept the “New Normal.” Just weeks ago, when we were comparing presidencies, we would bring up Watergate but it was more like wishful thinking. After all it took Nixon two years to fully implode inside his bunker after the slow drip of leaks, firings and resignations. But now Trump is starting to act like he is guilty of something besides inflated ego and incompetence. He thought he could get away with a reality TV equivalent with his “You’re Fired!” moment but he couldn’t even trust his own staff, thinking it might leak. Then when his staff didn’t have enough time to prepare answers, he next reveals his own thoughts on national TV and leaks classified intel directly to the Russians. In firing FBI Director James Comey to stop the steady drip of “Russiagate,” Trump has set the stage for a possible constitutional crisis but it still needs the Watergate equivalent of a “smoking gun.” Trump himself brought it up with a Twitter threat against Comey of “tapes,” but this seems more like typical, flailing Trumpism. Last night’s story in The New York Times of a memo written by Comey recounting a meeting in which Trump had said “I hope you can let this go” in reference to the Bureau’s investigation of General Flynn may yet provide the spark behind the smoke.
Taping does occur daily in Washington, D.C., it is legal, and it is done by the Government and the media. If any presidential tapes exist, they are bound by law and erasing them is illegal. That would include any tapes made in the White House with the Russians in the Oval Office just one day after firing Comey. Comey’s memos may prove more damning. We are not close to any impeachment proceedings because the Democrats would need a little Republican help, which did happen with Watergate. But back then, the nation’s institutions were in better shape and respected. Not any more with Trump and Bannon waging constant war on these checks and balances of executive power. The next episode will be whether Trump appoints a political lackey or an independent type that can get through the confirmation process in the Senate.
So Trump boasts to the Russians in the Oval Office that he “gets the best intel” and drops some classified info about the Islamic State (and more important, could reveal the process of how the intel got to him). Constitutionally, Trump can fire anyone and since it is all made for his desk, he can reveal or declassify practically anything. And why wouldn’t the White House record that meeting? That would resolve the issue, or maybe blow it up. Still, Trump cannot be fired, he can only be impeached. The Republicans needed to go along with that difficult process are better utilized at this point in keeping any investigations going.
We watch as conservatives and liberals forego legitimate debates in council, and instead shout at each other across the council fire about Democracy and the Republic, blowing around sparks that could set Washington on fire, just like the British did 200 years ago. They have become shape shifters, swapping skins saying one thing but hiding from their constituencies, lying to all and enabling law enforcement bullies because that is the new normal. “Democracy” represents the principle of majority rule, a “Republic” uses institutions to check and balance the power of majorities. These traditions have become contrary, they say one thing but their actions amount to the opposite and ultimately prove to be meaningless, while the nation-state of the USA is taking on water and if not yet sinking is losing the high moral ground.
The Democrats keep pouring gasoline on the burning Russian bag of poo, hoping to explode it into daylight. Yet it is pure politics and theater, since all this clamoring for regime change will just end with Mike Pence, a Christian Dominionist and chief enabler. His Godliness is in Cleanliness persona and does not match his acquiescence to the valueless leadership, missing morals and absent ethics of his boss Trump. We seem to be one FEMA event away from the imposition of a “Handmaid’s Tale American Republic” here in the good ol’ USA. But Democrats need to fight for the environment, clean energy and renewables and put forth plans putting people to work in these industries; investing in education to compete in the world and at home in health care, since that’s where future jobs will be. Plus a decent infrastructure bill that will counter Trump’s sell off of public projects to developers for corruptible tax credits. Dems seem to have taken for granted their own people and constituencies and can offer nothing, no compassion or empathy, just a media fight to remain a political party.
One thought driving conspiracies, deep state warnings and political infighting is this: what is inherently wrong with brokering a peace with Russia? Trump does act incompetent, but who is constantly declaring Russia the enemy? Are there much closer enemies we could see, if we weren’t distracted with these small smoky, brush fires? The military-industrial-congressional complex profits from a hot, shooting war, but does the intelligence deep state apparatus profit from a cold war with constant surveillance and hidden budgets?
We see blind obedience in the Republicans to Trump that allows blind-spots in National Security, we see Trump’s America First actually means Trump Family Business Comes First, all while allowing National Institutions to go bust. In the chaos we see abuse of power, interference with the Russia investigation, and obstruction of justice from the Department of Justice. They cover it up, stall, obfuscate, while saying nice things in public but in the end will starve it of resources or leadership. So we are not quite yet at that constitutional crisis but we can see it, just like Sarah Palin said, “I can see Russia from here.” And who’s going to do something about that burning bag of poo someone (the Head Leaker in Chief, maybe?) left on the White House Porch.
Alex Jacobs, Mohawk, is a visual artist and poet living in Santa Fe.