Consider corruption’s remarkable power to destroy everything good in a heartbeat. Consider how hard it is for good to wipe out corruption. Now, corruption itself is just an abstract idea – it’s greed asserting itself in some form or another – wanting more for oneself than one is entitled to. More money, more power, more love, more bandwidth, more oxygen. We get the compulsion. The trick – if you want to live as a decent member of a decent society – is to learn that you can’t be a five year old forever. Same goes for being a ten year old or, worst of all, an adolescent. Growing up is compulsory for most of us. But, the corrupt never do actually grow up. Something of their inner five year old survives. “Me-me-me” is the only song they know. Learning how to share is still a daily struggle.
Consider Vladimir Putin, corruption’s current poster boy (although pretty much every member of the Republican Party could give Putin a run for his value-less rubles on being corrupt). Whatever actual lizard brain love Putin feels for Mother Russia, it’s nothing compared to his lust for money and power. I’m not sure if spying chose Putin or Putin chose spying. Spying was the perfect gig for a guy like Vlad Putin. Spying, after all, relies above all on corruption.
If navigating the world of Russian intelligence is like a game of Survivor, Putin outplayed everyone. Putin was in charge of the dying KGB as Boris Yeltsin stumbled his way through Russia’s presidency. Yeltsin must have been jaw droppingly corrupt. Whatever Putin had on Yeltsin forced Yeltsin to resign suddenly on New Year’s Eve 1999, making Putin the President. Considering how corrupt Yeltsin was on the surface – which everyone accepted – whatever Yeltsin’s corruption was on the downlow? The imagination runs wild.
Putin used corruption exactly like a super power to transform himself from pasty, little bully with a Napoleon complex into the President of Russia – and now the man who singlehandedly drove the world into (take your pick) World War Three or Cyber World War One. This war needs a publicist or a brand manager on staff pronto!
Remember how the whole world got it into its head that despite his lived history, Vlad Putin was a breath of fresh, democratic air for Russia? Remember how George W. Bush famously looked into Putin’s soul and found a soul? Remember how Barack Obama drew lines in the sand that Putin ignored – and then paid zero price for having ignored? In Obama’s defense, the Putin-owned Republican Party would have lost its mind had a Black man launched our military against a white man they were all beholden to. Putin would have insisted.
That, too, is a kind of corruption. It’s evil triumphing over good without even breaking a sweat.
Consider Donald Trump, a man who’s lived his entire life by corruption’s grace. The man dropped from the womb already corrupt because the corruption was baked into his DNA. Trumps have been scumbags, losers, assholes and dickheads forever and ever. If corruption didn’t exist, Trump would have had to invented it himself. Corruption is that essential to his basic chemistry. Given a choice between doing anything corruptly or uncorruptly, Trump would choose to do it corruptly just because it’s so deep in his comfort zone.
Consider how desperately Trump wanted a Trump Tower Moscow. Consider what Trump would have done – would still do – to get it. Consider the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. Consider the Steele Dossier (no, I mean really consider it – because contrary to corrupt Republican spin, the bulk of what’s in Christopher Steele’s raw intel data is good, solid, background). Consider how hard everyone on Team Trump has tried to diss the Dossier. If the Dossier’s contents really were bullshit, Team Trump wouldn’t have wasted its time. Consider what the Mueller Report really says. Consider how much obstruction of justice Team Trump and everyone in the GOP has thrown up to keep We The People from knowing what really happened during the Trump years.
Consider what we’re learning now every single day about people like Ginni Thomas and her husband Clarence Thomas. Consider the intellectual corruption! Consider how Clarence Thomas used corruption like a super power to finish destroying the Supreme Court’s integrity. The Court’s integrity never stood a chance.
Consider how the Republican Party nominated Trump KNOWING his presidency would pose a grave national security threat because, as current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy upon entering a meeting of Republican leaders on June 25, 2016 put it (a month before the GOP formally nominated Trump): “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!”
Consider how impossible it seems to ever punish Trump – or get him to testify under oath. Consider how easily Trump turned the Republican Party into a subset of himself. Consider how willing Republicans are now to leap off tall buildings if Trump tells them to.
Do they think THEY have super powers? Do they think THEY will fly”?
Of course they won’t. Every last one of them will plummet to earth. Every last one of them is (now, we get an inkling) going to face investigation. Last night, we learned the Department of Justice has expanded its January 6 probe into the planning and financing of it. Even public info says that will ensnare not only elected Republican Members of Congress and members of Trump’s inner circle, but Donald Trump himself. Three days ago, in yet another in a virtually unbroken chain of legal setbacks for Trump, Judge David Carter – while insisting that Trump hand over documents, wrote “The illegality of the plan was obvious” and that Trump “likely attempted to obstruct the joint session of Congress”.
Trump’s super power might be wearing off (finally!).
And so, apparently, is Putin’s.
But corruption never goes gently into that good night. Corruption rages against being put to bed. It screams and shouts. It threatens to hold its breath. If it’s Vlad Putin or Don Trump – perennial five year olds – it threatens to take everyone else with them.
Even as a super power, corruption can’t help being corrupt.