Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon
the world . . . And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born? ~ WILLIAM BUTLER YATES
I've been doing this blogging thing for 14 years now, and too often my New Years posts are bummers. That certainly has been true and then some the last two years, but I embark on 2019 standing a little taller and feeling a little more optimistic despite the Category Five shitstorm a president unbound has unleashed on America and the world.
I would be lying if I told you that I always knew that things would begin to get better. I didn't know because Donald Trump and his Republican enablers have succeeded in short circuiting our constitutional checks and balances to such an extent that some things never will be better again. Ever. But the wheels of justice are turning and America is fighting back.
Typical of those bummer New Years posts was a January 2, 2007 essay in which I asked whether we had become a nation of sheep.
"Can we survive two more years of a George Bush presidency?" I wrote. "The silence has been deafening when it comes to Americans demanding that Bush be held accountable for his actions, let alone pull the U.S. back from the brink of myriad disasters. Are we so inured to arrogant and inept leadership and a corrupt political culture that we would rather retreat to our Barcaloungers than fight?"
As Trumpian outrages go, it is not possible to top his collusion with Russia, his policy of separating children from migrant parents seeking better lives for their families in America, or his abhorrent nativist instincts.
But one particular incident way back on the evening of October 9, 2016 at Washington University in St. Louis has haunted me in particular because it says everything you need to know about Trump.
It was on that night that Trump invited women who had accused Bill Clinton of groping them to sit in the front row at his debate with Hillary Clinton, whom he menacingly stalked around the stage at the very moment that his lawyer-fixer Michael Cohen was negotiating a $130,000 hush payment with a porn star to prevent her from going public about her own sexual encounter with the vile man with the small hands and peculiar hair.
In the last 12 years, the Washington swamp has continued to fill. (Yes, even during the Obama years.) Yet enough of us have now roused our weary bones from our Barcaloungers to doom Trump in 2019.
|ERIN SCHAFF FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES|
Trump is doomed because he is profoundly unqualified to be president, his self-inflicted wounds and Twitter diktats leaving America in a perpetual state of crisis as he gives every appearance of taking orders from Vladimir Putin, alienates the U.S.'s most important allies, announces phony victories over still-lethal Islamist adversaries and unilaterally triggers unnecessary trade wars that have caused misery in the heartland and palpations in the financial markets. Oh, and three government breakdowns . . . er, shutdowns since Republicans took complete control of Washington two years ago.
Trump is doomed because the last of the few old-guard professionals (read adults) who were checks on his irrationality, temper tantrums and base-fawning excesses have resigned in protest, leaving his administration in tatters.
Trump is doomed because of a Resistance movement led by women angered by the Republican jihad to deny they and their families access to affordable health care, among other necessities of life, that propelled the midterm election Blue Wave.
Trump is doomed because of his oft-declared arch enemy, a vigorous news media that has repeatedly jerked the curtain back on his awfulness even if many outlets continue to give him the deference that the office but not the man deserves.
Trump is doomed because of the labors of Robert Mueller and other prosecutors, whose belief in the Rule of Law stands in stark contrast to a president and congressional sycophancy that history will judge to be quislings all.
Trump is doomed because even his conservative base is cracking as once reliable allies in the right-wing media, including Rush Limbaugh and La Passionata Coulter, mock him for being "a squish." And there still is no border wall.
And Trump is doomed because, as we saw that night in St. Louis, he is a self-necrotizing virus who has never done an honest thing in his life and for whom a karmic payback has been long in the offing.
The beginning of the end of the Trump presidency arrived a long time ago. And although impeachment has not come quickly enough, I anticipate articles being filed against Trump by the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee before we get too far into the New Year.
The Constitution cites treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors as the reasons for impeaching a president. Reasonable people can argue about whether Trump has met the legal definition of treason. But there is no question that dirty money has been the currency of his presidency, so bribery is a no-brainer, while the list of high crimes and misdemeanors grows by the week.
|GUILLERMO ARIAS / AFP-GETTY|
Historical contexts are important here, and none is more important than Richard Nixon and Watergate and Donald Trump and the Russia, as well as his many other scandals. This is because more than just 45 years separate the two.
Like Trump's administration, Nixon's was rife with corruption. But the Republican Party of 1973 was law abiding. Most Republicans reflexively defended Nixon as the Watergate scandal grew and the attendant constitutional crisis deepened. And they stuck with him even after Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy AG William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than carry out his order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, the Robert Mueller of those turbulent times.
But three Republicans -- Senate minority leader Hugh Scott, House minority leader John Rhodes and Senator Barry Goldwater -- had the guts to go to the White House and tell Nixon he had lost the support of the country. He soon resigned.
Today's Republican Party has become as deeply corrupt as the president whom it also reflexively defends. (Susan Collins's pathetic expressions of "concern" are what passes for criticism of Trump. Is there even a heart beating beneath her Burberry suit jacket?)
Republican corruption is a product of what journalist George Packer calls "institutional depravity," the abuse of power as an end in itself and justifying almost any means. As the Democratic Party, although far from perfect, has become more diverse, today's GOP has walled itself off into a fortress of older white male, rural and conservative voters for whom Trump -- as apolitical as he is amoral -- was a shotgun marriage of convenience that has plunged America into an age of darkness that make the Bush and Nixon eras seem quaint.
What can go wrong in the New Year?
Almost anything can go wrong because survival is Trump's only priority. Still, I suspect the siren call of the Barcalounger will be more powerful than the lure of the barricade, and many Trumpkins will chuck their red MAGA baseball caps with much caterwauling but little else once it becomes obvious that the Virus in Chief has pretty much eaten himself.
There has been a dark shadow over our lives for the past two years akin to the fear a victim of sexual assault carries with her. (Trump, of course, does happen to be a sexual predator.) But there are moments when I can see beyond the dark shadow and glimpse a ray of sunlight penetrating the clouds and a return to a normalcy we once took for granted. When things made sense.
Best wishes for a better New Year.