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And so, as we approach the first anniversary of the Donald Trump presidency, there no longer is any question the man in the Oval Office is unhinged, but what are we to do about it?
There no longer is any dispute that for Trump the Constitution is an obstacle to be squashed, but what are we to do about it? There no longer is any doubt Trump is a racist and bigot, but what are we to do about it? There no longer is any skepticism that Trump has become so demented that he sometimes even opposes his own bills, but what are we to do about it? There no longer is any confusion that Trump has abdicated the leadership his office requires in ignoring the false alert in Hawaii of an incoming ballistic missile for more than three hours and then, his round of golf completed, instead tweeting about the latest "fake news" indignity. There no longer is any uncertainty that Trump is a coward who is afraid to even step foot on the soil of America's most important ally after methodically denigrating our remaining friends in the world, not to mention all those "shithole countries," but what are we to do about it?
The obvious answers -- impeach this Global Village Idiot or force him from office through the 25th Amendment -- are not going to be invoked so long as the Republican sycophancy controls Congress, and even a Democratic sweep in November in the face of an electoral map favoring the GOP does not guarantee Trump's ouster, only more partisan gridlock. A government shutdown later this week, taking knees at NFL games or pretending the American Dream is merely on sabbatical and not life support also aren't going to do it.
Which leaves only one alternative: Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Yes, it's come to that.
As an exercise in fighting off despondency, I began viewing the Trump presidency at some point last year as being built on a gigantic dune, with the sands slowly but inexorably trickling away with every passing month -- and every new assault on those things we most cherish about America. You know, stuff like clean air, national parks and welcoming immigrants and refugees.§
My trickle has become a steady flow as Trump's cognitive abilities further decline and he becomes a little crazier, alienates more people and continues to find new ways to founder. (Not to mention those nagging bone spurs that kept him out of Vietnam but thank goodness have not affected his golf game.) And the trickle might even become a torrent after the next round of Russia scandal indictments. Or maybe the round after that. Or . . .
It is dawning on the West Wing clean-up crew that the Mueller's investigation not only is not wrapping up, as Trump's criminal lawyers have tried to reassure him that it is, but has barely gotten underway and will continue at least through 2018.
So many perps, so little time.
Among those perps almost certainly are Trump son-in-outlaw Jared Kushner and Donald "Fredo" Jr. The glorious sight of them frog walking into federal district court in Washington in answer to the special prosecutor's summons could trigger that hoped for torrent of eroding sand, the collapse of Trump's improbable presidency, and an end -- or at least the beginning of the end -- of our national nightmare.
The Founding Fathers got a lot right, but one thing they could not have anticipated is how some of those right things would be abused many years on.§
Until fairly recently, the classic example of this was the Second Amendment provision on "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" not being infringed upon.
The Founders crafted this in the context of a young republic still recovering from the aftershocks of the Revolutionary War that had no standing army. They were not giving carte blanche to a long-mature America nearly two and a half centuries on inured to a sick subculture that encourages the purchase, possession and carrying of unlimited numbers of weapons whose sole purpose is to kill and maim.
More to the point, the Founders also could not have anticipated that their delicate balancing act known as the Balance of Powers -- wherein one branch of government can rein in another when it wrongly uses or abuses its constitutional powers -- would be trashed
nearly two and a half centuries on by the conservative wing of a political party that packs the Supreme Court with activist judges, controls Congress, enables a president who by any objective measure should be removed from office and views trust, comity and bipartisanship as fool's games to be quashed in the service of consolidating power.
This brings us to the central irony of our time.§
The Supreme Court and Congress cannot be depended on to hew to the rule of law. Our president, of all people, certainly cannot. We can get all warm and fuzzy about voting out Republican scoundrels in November and marching toward impeachment in 2019, while Michael Wolff, author of Fire and Fury, which is working on a robust two million copies sold 10 days after it was published, believes that Washington eventually will bury Trump.
But at this juncture, the best hope of saving what remains of the rule of law -- that is, by terminating the presidency of a uniquely dangerous man -- is a career Republican who happens to be a crackerjack prosecutor.
Yet even if we accept the possibility that Mueller "may come to represent the highest and most binding expression of law and order in America," as Slate's Dahlia Lithwick puts it, "[that] might not matter enough, to enough people, to bring the Trump train to a stop."
Which brings us from the central irony of our time to its central reality.
Politics created the Trump presidency (with ample assists, to be sure, from Vladimir Putin, James Comey and Hapless Hillary) and only politics may undo Trump. It just may take a few more years, and considering the parlous state of these United States, we don't have the luxury of time.