It’s now more than a MONTH since Joe Biden won the presidency. Donald Trump has not conceded (and won’t). That’s bad enough. As of this morning, just 26 Republican members of Congress have acknowledged that Trump lost. For a month now, the news media has reported this strange sequence with utter befuddlement. Why are the Republicans following Trump? Or, as journalistic mediocrity Alex Witt (of “Weekends With Alex Witt” on MSNBC) asked “What is the president doing? What’s his ‘angle’?”
Think about that question. Think about the “knowledge base” it seems to start from. Donald Trump is “doing” something. He has “an angle”. HE’S DENYING THE LEGITIMATE TRANSFER OF POWER. He “must” have “an angle”. In other words, a legitimate (to him) reason for DENYING THE LEGITIMATE TRANSFER OF POWER. Alex Witt’s question BEGINS by framing Donald Trump’s ILLEGAL ACT as if it “could” be legit. His “angle” couldn’t possibly be “criminal”, now, could it?
The question denies its own answer. It gives legitimacy to illegitimacy. And because it puts all that INTO THE QUESTION, it also assumes that this illegitimacy is “what is”. Like too, TOO many “journalists”, Alex Witt lacks the perspective to tell the Donald Trump story to begin with. After four years of non-stop LYING, Alex Witt still thinks Trump has “an angle”. After four years of inexplicable beta dog behavior toward a hostile foreign government, Alex still thinks Trump has a “strategy”. After personally REPORTING on myriad crimes, offenses and all sorts of other bad behaviors, Alex STILL sees Trump as just “a different kind of POTUS”.
She can’t really wrap her mind around Trump being a criminal. Not a metaphorical criminal, A LITERAL ONE. And if you can’t do that, then you certainly can’t see the Republican Party — their wagon and wagons all hitched to Trump. If you can’t — after all this time — see Trump for the traitor he is (which makes the entire Republican Party a CO-CONSPIRATOR to treason!), then you cannot in any way accurately report this story. The Donald Trump and the GOP you are reporting on don’t exist except in your mind.
How many times over the past four years has a host in the studio asked the White House reporter in the field to “explain” Trump’s behavior? Then the reporter will put themselves in the president’s place in order to answer the question. “Well,” they begin, “The president says he doubts the election’s results because he really wants every vote to be counted!” They’ll embellish a bit — playing amateur shrink — assuming Trump’s motives are reasonable. You know — like THEIRS would be.
Except Trump’s motives aren’t theirs. Trump doesn’t think anything like them. If you don’t understand that Trump is a criminal then you absolutely don’t understand how he thinks — and the thoughts and motives you’re putting into his head, aren’t his, THEY’RE YOURS! NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell is the Queen of this bullshit. She’ll repeat, verbatim, Trump’s bullshit — then “get inside his mind” to explain it to us — never mind the fact that 1) IT’S BULLSHIT and 2) Trump never thought that way for two seconds.
Back before the Democrats took the House back in 2018 — and zero oversight existed, the Republicans were doing their damnedest to undermine the integrity of The Steele Dossier. Let’s put aside the fact that the Dossier — a collection of RAW INTEL — has checked out almost entirely. The reason a Steele Dossier exists is because Fusion GPS — the research firm founded by ex-Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch — hired Steele (with his unequaled sources inside Russia); the reason they hired Steele — former head of MI6’s vaunted Russia desk — their due diligence (prior to doing oppo research for the Jeb Bush-supporting Washington Free Beacon) turned up tons of evidence that Trump had used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. Get it?
Russia. Russian money. Dirty Russian money. And Russian money, don’t forget, comes with not just “strings” but ropes. And Vlad Putin — the Russian head of state — is also its biggest criminal. If you took Russian money (and we need to know exactly how many and which Republicans took Russian money into their campaign coffers) then you are a criminal. Stone cold fact. Not an ounce of politics to it.
The English have a seasonal tradition called the “Christmas Pantomime”.
These fun, loose-goosey stage productions are invariably built upon some beloved old chestnut — Puss In Boots… Cinderella… Dick Wittington… There’s a hero, a girl, a villain. Simple, simple, simple. Invariably there’ll be a moment when the hero (who always speaks directly to the audience — fourth wall? WHAT fourth wall?) wanders downstage to commune. The villain will enter upstage — well behind the hero — and do something mischievous.
The audience will call out to the hero — “He’s behind you!” The hero will turn — but miss seeing the villain who ducked JUST BEFORE the hero turned. The hero will look at the audience as if they were nuts. “He’s still behind you!” the audience will insist — pointing over the hero’s other shoulder.
The hero will turn again — and, again, just miss catching the villain in the act. In a panto, it’s maddening fun. In real life? It’s just maddening.
“What’s the president doing? What’s his angle?”
I take it back. It’s worse than maddening. The reason only 26 Republicans will openly say that Joe Biden is the next president is because the rest of them are literal criminals.
We know already that Trump — the second he’s no longer protected by that ludicrous DoJ “rule” that you can’t indict a sitting POTUS — will be indicted. First, it will be in the SDNY in the legal case that put Michael Cohen in prison. Trump is, as we speak, “Unindicted Co-Conspirator #1”. He’ll lose the “un” distinction the nano-second Joe Biden is sworn in. Expect the indictment to land nano-seconds later.
Another thing that will happen on January 20, 2021 — the DoJ will reopen for business as a Department dedicated to Justice (and not being a criminal president’s consigliere). That will change the landscape considerably. Of course it will when dozens if not hundreds of Republican lawmakers are subpoenaed and asked under oath to explain their odd, obstructive behaviors of the last four years. One thing most Republicans apparently never stopped to consider: what will they do if their coup fails? What will they do if the power grab comes away empty-handed?
Will they pull a Rick Perry and mutter an embarrassed “Oops”? Will they look to the Democrats — as they usually do — and assume the Dems will let them sail? Again?
Republicans will continue to get away with being criminals and traitors until they’re called out for what they are — criminals and traitors. Every time the news media sticks a mic in their faces so they can legitimize corruption and treason, they’ll set us back. If the Chuck Todds and Stephanie Ruhls and John Kings and Wolf Blitzers don’t stop scratching their heads so hard, they’ll leave permanent divots in their skulls.
Sometimes a banana is just a banana. And a criminal is just a criminal.