Sunday, November 11, 2018

Pollyanna Meets The Donald. Or, Why I'm Optimistic About Robert Succeeding.

The Pollyanna of the eponymous classic children's book is a young orphan with an outlook so hopelessly optimistic that she remembers only positive stuff and never  unpleasant stuff.   
I might be accused of that outlook following a week that even by Trumpian standards set amazing new lows: The president accused Democrats of committing non-existent election fraud after a majority of midterm voters rejected him.  He threatened to order soldiers stationed at the southern border to fire on that migrant caravan.  He singled out African-American journalists for scorn and banned a CNN correspondent from the White House because of a videotape doctored by a right-wing website.  He blamed deadly California wildfires on "gross mismanagement" by state officials.  He embarrassed America by insulting its veterans in France.  And he named an ethical timebomb as acting attorney general whom he sociopathically claimed not to know but had repeatedly relied on for advice in his blood quest to take down Hillary Clinton and other political enemies and, most importantly, jeopardizing Robert Mueller's Russia scandal investigation. 
Yet aside from the fact I'm growing a tad impatient about Mueller dropping the other shoe -- new indictments that will make the case that the Trump campaign colluded with Vladimir Putin's cyberwarriors to steal the 2016 election from Clinton -- I'm feeling rather chuff. 
In considering why that is so as you read the following rationales for my upbeatedness, note that all this stuff is occurring in tandem and not in isolation.  Each rationale in and of itself is pretty powerful.  But the cumulative effect is gigantic, and may be enough to get us through what at last week's end I called "a profoundly dangerous moment" for our democracy that only Mueller can check. 
That dangerous moment is, of course, Trump's appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general because Jeff Sessions, the most loyal of his loyalists, wouldn't and couldn't shut down the Russia scandal investigation that threatens to immolate his presidency.  
Over a brief career, Whitaker has accumulated a lifetime of skeletons as a hack lawyer, Christianist weirdo, purveyor of fake ethics complaints, right-wing troll and heavy for an online business that scammed thousands of customers out of millions of dollars, any one of which should have disqualified him.  Just as the generically vile Trump has made George W. Bush seem pretty good by comparison with his never ending ability to reach amazing new lows and then outdo himself, Whitaker makes dim-witted Alberto Gonzalez, who hands down was the worst attorney general ever, seem positively dazzling. 
Anyhow, these are the reasons I've been channeling my inner Pollyanna: 
* Midterm election victories. 
When all the ballots are counted, the Democrats will have done quite well despite Republican gerrymandering in taking back the House and making statehouse gains while fighting the GOP to more or less a draw in the Senate.  This is a resounding vote of confidence for Mueller. 
* It's too late to stop now.   
Mueller has netted 35 indictments and is said to be writing a report on his overall findings.  Efforts to suppress the report, which will become public one way or the other, will only further galvanize the opposition while cracking Trump's wall of Republican resistance. 
* House Dems on the attack. 
Effective January 3, they will have the power of the subpoena.  Beyond initiating impeachment proceedings, they can push back against Whitaker and, for good measure, finally get Trump's tax returns, which will lay bare even more Russian connections. 
* You can't fire the FBI. 
When confronted with unpleasantness or a threat to his presidency, Trump fires it.  But he can't fire the FBI.  Just ask the presidents involved in the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals, the Monica Lewinsky affair and post-9/11 domestic spying imbrogio. 
* Mueller's powerful silence. 
The special prosecutor has been circumspect to a fault.  That has been a brilliant strategy, and if Mueller determines the time has come to speak out because of Trump's interference, it will be a game changer and another crack in that Republican wall. 
The greatest self-inflicted disaster of a presidency filled with them was Trump's summary firing of FBI Director James Comey because he wouldn't get off his back over the unfolding Russia scandal.  This led to Mueller's appointment. 
Fast forward 18 months and another disaster is in the offing as America's slow-motion constitutional crisis accelerates.  This is because the more Trump tries to get Mueller off his back while insisting his investigation is a witch hunt, the more he obstructs justice.   
Right, Pollyanna?  

Click HERE for a comprehensive timeline of the Russia scandal
and related developments.     


Carol said...

Ha! Never a fan of Pollyanna, but perhaps I was wrong!

Dan Leo said...

I hope you're right! One particular thing that bothers me, though, is that Trump can't fire the FBI, but he can keep firing its directors...

Bscharlott said...

Sharp writing! You are persuasive, but it's hard not to feel existential dread for our democracy. Even when the buffoon is finally gone, his buffoonery may live on.

Kenne G. Turner said...

I think it is fair to say we hope you are right.

Anonymous said...

You ARE a Pollyanna. If I were a confirmed naysayer, rather than a registered cynic, I’d say this:

Dems don’t get House control until Jan. 3, and much damage can be done between now & then.

I don’t put it past Whitaker (and Trump) to demand all extant copies of Mueller’s report and evidence, then make that work mysteriously get lost or be forever sealed as a grand jury product, somehow misplaced in the bowels of a Justice Department obscure safe.

If the Mueller probe’s findings are ‘disappeared,’ House Dems will have scant actual documentary evidence on which to base impeachment efforts. We’re then hoping the SDNY fed prosecutors or the NY AG’s office can intervene, but that may produce only half-baked prosecutions of minions, likely not thwarting Trump.

You may not be able to fire the FBI, but they lack prosecutorial power, and many in the bureau (at least the NYC shop, if not further) appear to be Trump fans anyhow.

Mueller’s silence has been potent, but if he’s mindful of rules governing grand jury proceedings’ secrecy, he may not feel that he can be fully public with his plaints.

As I say, I’m merely a cynic -- not a doomsday merchant or conspiracist -- so I don’t actually believe that all of this will transpire, but some of it surely could. It alarms me that, despite constant evidence that Trumpsters have no regard for legalisms, historic precedent or common procedure, people keep expecting they will play by the same norms that have governed corruption inquiries in the past. I’m not fully convinced that the rule of law has any sway with him or many of his minions, so what they’re capable of is anybody’s guess.

Once again, we’re left to assume that judges, other law enforcement, an enraged citizenry or a suddenly civic-minded Congress will step up and step in to right this wrong. But what if the rule of law and the forces of law enforcement are themselves too weak, too procedural or too corrupted by now – and Trump et al. just spit in the eye of the virtuous?

As he likes to say, “We’ll see what happens….”