Are there any guiding principles that can make sense of the sensational news that now overwhelms the senses seemingly every hour?
What is common to blaring headlines about the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings, an anti-Trump “resistance” buried deep in the permanent bureaucracy and the improper behavior by top officials of the Obama administration, FBI, and Department of Justice?
There are a few subtexts to all these spectacles, scandals, and melodramas.
First, those in power had never imagined that Donald Trump either could or should win the 2016 election.
That reality emboldened federal employees to take risks and step over the line in efforts to ensure that Trump would be humiliated at the polls. Officials assumed that incoming President Hillary Clinton would either overlook or reward their zealotry.
FBI kingpins such as James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, and Peter Strzok either broke the law or made a mockery of the FBI’s ethical guidelines. They acted as if Clinton would win, or should have won, the election.
Had Clinton won the presidency, we would have absolutely no knowledge of any prior misconduct at the FBI, the Department of Justice, the National Security Agency or the CIA under the Obama administration. Trump prompted all that hysteria by winning.
Second, both the Democratic and Republican establishments, as well as the proverbial “deep state” bureaucracy, agreed that President Trump was so crude and uncouth that he must not continue in office.
The idea that any means necessary were justified by the noble ends of destroying Trump explains everything from the anonymous op-ed in the New York Times detailing formal White House resistance to Trump’s governance, to Bob Woodward’s latest unsourced expose of purported Trump chaos, to Robert Mueller’s investigation that was mandated to find “Russian collusion” and has ended up desperate to find any crimes that might prove Trump guilty of something.
Third, had Trump simply failed, as predicted, there would be far less frenzy. His Democratic opponents and many in his own party would have quietly found ways to remove him.
But instead, the economy is booming in a way previously unseen in the 21st century, with near-record-low unemployment and stock market highs. The economy is growing faster than it has in years. Domestic energy production is also hitting record highs.
Abroad, the furor has quietly subsided following Trump’s decisions to cancel the Iran deal, to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, and to jawbone NATO members into delivering their promised financial contributions.
Trump helped crush the Islamic State, beefed up the military and restored good relations with Israel and the moderate Arab world.
The general media consensus was that because Trump was so crude, he was therefore incompetent. That assumption proved a fallacy. Instead, a furor ensued over the general upswing in the country under a supposedly incompetent president.
Fourth, if Trump could not be removed by impeachment, a lawsuit citing the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, application of the 25th Amendment, indictment or forced resignation, then the only remaining mechanisms of aborting his presidency were either through the courts or by winning the midterm elections to facilitate impeachment and a trial in the Senate in 2019.
That explains the growing hysteria in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and the attempted delays in confirming lower-court justices, as well as the frenzy around the November midterms.
Fifth, Trump did not follow the examples of John McCain and Mitt Romney by adhering to the usual Republican Marquess of Queensberry etiquette.
Democrats had assumed that Republicans were on the defensive against boilerplate charges of sexism, racism, homophobia, and nativism. Republican functionaries in Congress and within the Washington bureaucracy and punditocracy had grown apologetic and complacent.
Republican politicos had more or less accepted the fact that, while successful at the local and state level, Republicans couldn’t win back the presidency—and that they should live with it and indeed find ways to thrive nobly as the “out” party.
In contrast, Trump’s raison d’etre is to fight tooth and nail against a biased media, Democratic opponents, never-Trump Republicans, and the proverbial deep state. Had he just taken their blows, remained stoic and not thrashed back, the national scene now would be mostly quiet.
The day’s blaring headlines, of course, differ in details. But the common themes behind the headlines are that Trump should never have been president, that he is an inexplicably successful ogre, and that he won’t shut up—and therefore he must be forced to go away by any means necessary.
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Photo Credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP