|DOUG MILLS / NEW YORK TIMES|
It sure is reassuring to know that there are so many people trying to subvert the crazy dude in the Oval Office. Stealing documents off his desk, trying to undercut his reckless decision-making and stuff. But while this week’s orgy of self righteousness wrapped in patriotism -- from Fear, Bob Woodward’s scathing new blockbuster, to a New York Times piece by the new Deep Throat -- makes us feel all kinds of smug, this so-called Quiet Resistance isn’t working.
The surreal reality is that although we've known since the day 18 very long months ago that Donald Trump told the first of thousands of lies by pledging to uphold the Constitution, he has never been fully in control because his capacity to govern is far exceeded by a neutron bomb-like malignant narcissism.
But -- and this is a very big but, folks -- Trump's grip on the national gonads and the White House, or what Woodward quotes Chief of Staff John Kelly as calling "Crazytown," remains firm.
The president's spittle-flecked response that The Times op-ed opinion piece, titled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration" was "gutless" and Woodward's tome is "a total piece of fiction" was proof of the very erratic behavior the op-ed and book detailed. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee's Sanders' ad hominem response that we have reached "a new low" and all the "cowards" should do the right thing and resign (without disputing their accounts) of course served to make this coup attempt without an actual coup all the more credible while ratcheting up Trump's most vile instincts. Oh, and expect a bacchanalia of up-sucking from the toadies who do remain truly loyal.
At least we finally have a full blown constitutional crisis, although maybe not the one we've long envisioned since it's aides subverting the presidency as opposed to the president subverting everything else.
And let's disabuse ourselves of the quaint notion that the new Deep Throat and Woodward's sources are "heroes." There are no heroes in this drama. David Frum, a former Dubya speechwriter, gets it exactly right about the Woodward book, writing in The Atlantic that it sets a bad precedent:
The high official who thought the president so addled that he would not remember the paper he snatched off his desk? Those who thought the president stupid, ignorant, beholden to Russia -- and then exited the administration to return to their comfortable, lucrative occupations? Who substituted deep-background gripe sessions with a reporter for offering detailed proof of presidential unfitness, or worse, before the House or Senate? Yes, better than the robotic servility of the public record. But only slightly.I do agree with Sanders on one point. The detractors should resign, be they West Wing policy wonks or Pentagon generals, although we can be thankful that the guy hasn't blown up the world. Yet.
There are precedents for the subversion of Trump’s presidency, although they pale in comparison.
When Woodrow Wilson fell ill late in his presidency, his wife Edith made many decisions in his name. During the final days of Richard Nixon's tortured tenure as the Watergate scandal closed in on him, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger instructed top Pentagon brass not to carry out any nuclear launch order without checking with him or Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
A more apt comparison is Ronald Reagan. When the Gipper seemed increasingly clueless toward the end of his presidency, some aides discussed invoking the 25th Amendment. (So where the hell are they now?)
But the big question as the week mercifully slouches toward an end is not whether Trump will hang on. How silly. It's who wrote The Times piece, a list that is as long as the many abuses Trump has inflicted on America. (Wouldn't it be a hoot if it was Kellyanne Conway or Sanders? Of one thing I'm sure, we can rule out Javanka. Trump, in fact, wailed that he now can't trust anyone but his children.)
So if your gonads still feel a bit . . . uh, compressed after the ruckus from all those honorable subversives, you can thank the Vichy Republicans in Congress.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have not merely bailed on their constitutional mandate to check the chief executive. They pretend there is no crisis. By their obsequy, they have let the president run amok, although Devin "Inspector Clouseau" Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee get bonus points for spinning an Orwellian deep-state conspiracy in trying to shut down the Russia scandal investigation by thwarting Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
And let us not forget those hapless Democrats, who may yet mange to blow the opportunity of a generation in the midterm elections, thereby pretty much assuring that Trump finishes his term if his heart doesn't explode from too many Big Macs and French fries.