HALF MAD AND SURROUNDED BY BAD ADVISERS
Carl Gustaf Grimber, Swedish Historian’s remark on Erik XIV King of Sweden (1560 – 1568)
The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them. (My Emphasis)
BY: HASSAN FARAZIAN
SUMMARY: As the world keeps its breath, crossing fingers and counting the last few days to the end of President Trump’s Term, a retrospect snapshot of the past four years’ effects on domestic American politics and the democratic process is pertinent. President Trump, it is true, has single-handedly managed to break all sociopolitical norms not only within his own party but encouraging the meltdown of the American sociocultural heritage by articulating, loosely and in the manner of speaking, the very worst of its historical bias and violent legacy. The Republican party’s role and its operative’s lack of political wisdom and courage in embracing such behavior while pursuing only short-term self-destructive interest through raw politics have made it complicit in this unbecoming and damaging path.
In the classic movie Casablanca, Captain Louis Renault played gorgeously by Claude Rains, on the take and trying to warn Rick (Humphrey Bogart) barges into his Café saying: “I’m shocked, shocked to find out that gambling is going on in here.”; at that moment, when one of Bogart’s employees approaches him giving him money stating, “your winning Sir” (his bribe), he replies, “oh thank you very much” then very naturally and unapologetically pockets it. This vivid hypocrisy is reminiscent of all elected Republican officials and higher echelon attitude from the local to the national level toward the president, with the exception of a very few. But even then, there has been no real serious push back to President Trump’s erratic, undemocratic, and above all divisive four-year presidency.
There are some of course who have actively and courageously questioned the direction of the party’s “leadership and presidency”. The Lincoln project co-founded by Steve Schmidt an iconic Republican establishment strategist of the past decades for the likes of John McCain and George W. Bush is a shining example. Along with other notable Republicans possessing intellectual and Democratic integrity they worked vigorously putting a dent in President Trump’s reelection aspiration. Then, shortly after the election, Schmidt, and others were so disgusted by the Republican party’s comportment toward the President’s bogus lawsuits questioning the integrity of the election result that he actually joined the Democratic Party telling MSNBC’s Joy Reid:
At the end of the day, there’s now one pro-democracy political party in the United States of America, and that’s the Democratic Party. And I am a member of that party because of that. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………What happened in the month of November — premeditatedly, deliberately — [was that] faith and belief in American democracy was poisoned by President Trump, culminating with 126 members of the House of Representatives and 18 Republican attorneys general signing an amicus brief to a garbage lawsuit that is in essence a declaration of repudiation of American democracy.
A well-informed political journalist and Republican observer Tim Alberta described the adverse and destructive effect of President Trump on the Republican party and its dilemma in The Politico a couple of months before the elections correctly titled, The Grand Old Melt Down: What happens when a party gives up on ideas?
……. Some Republicans don’t want to see the wheels coming off and therefore insist that everything is fine; others are not only comfortable with the chaos but believe it to be their salvation. In either case, these groups are the minority. Most of the party’s governing class sees perfectly well what is going on. They know exactly how bad things are and how much worse they could yet be. Even as they attempt to distract from the wreckage, redirecting voters’ gaze toward those dastardly Democratic socialists and reminding them of the binary choice before them, these Republicans rue their predicament but see no way out of it. Like riders on a derailing roller coaster, they brace for a crash but dare not get off.
Having written the book on the making of the modern Republican Party, having spent hundreds of hours with its most powerful officials in public and private settings, I cannot possibly exaggerate the number of party leaders who have told me they worry both about Trump’s instability and its long-term implication for the GOP. Not that any of this should come as a surprise. There’s a reason Lindsey Graham called Trump “crazy,” a “bigot” and a “kook” who’s “unfit for office.” There’s a reason Ted Cruz called Trump “a pathological liar” and “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen.” There’s a reason Marco Rubio observed that, “Every movement in human history that has been built on a foundation of anger and fear has been cataclysmic,” and warned of Trump’s rise, “This isn’t going to end well.” (My Emphasis)
So while The White House this symbol of Democracy has been turned into an inferno of the radioactive center of chaos, hypocrisy, and purely self-serving American presidency and a shameful legacy for the history books, the Republicans are finally waking up to the reality of its everlasting moral and political damage. But it is too little and way too late. Worst, it is clear beyond a reasonable doubt that their hands have been forced lately in confronting President Trump due to the recent undefendable attack on Capitol Hill and not because of any principled integrity. This president’s behavior, composure, vocabulary, and action has resembled nothing less than the behavior of A Mob Boss, a five-year-old tantrum, or a late-night after-hour drunken bar patron and his relationship with his supporters that has — fed into each other — resembles the ridiculous and embarrassing, “The Jerry Springer” show inciting the audience and his recipient to Ludacris and violence with them shouting Donald, Donald, Donald ( instead of Jerry, Jerry). Yet consistently the Republicans have failed and resisted their moral and even political obligation to their true constituency – The Country, their Constitutional Oath, and the Rule of Law. Thus although the Republican political contestants were gladly pointing out at the time -presidential candidate Donald J. Trump’s character flaws mentioned above well known to everyone, there has been no real backbone since then in confronting him head-on for who he is and what he has represented.
Long has gone the shadows of Abraham Lincoln’s moral values, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s patriotism, or the modern Republican Conservatism party of Ronald Reagan with its ideas and idealism. Instead, like Dr. Evil in Austin Powers who claims: “Mini-Me, you complete me”, the entirety of the Republican Party along with its hierarchy and patriarchs ( if there actually exist a proper chain anymore) petrified by the President have become his Mini-Me-s who have capitulated to him complementing their own ego and moral bankruptcy through his idiosyncrasy. Thus as Mr. Alberta has pointedly narrated these phenomena, the Republican party’s quandary and snippy moral virtue have evolved during and because of President Trump’s administration by placing it between a rock and hardpoint in a vacuum of long-term irrelevance:
Of course, these are the “before” photos. The “after” shots reflect only the slightest hints of skepticism from these and other Republicans who once denounced Trump but now strain to avoid the wrath of the president and his minions. The rest of the right-wing universe—conservative media, think tanks, activist organizations, financial networks, civic groups, voters themselves—has largely gone along for the ride, and for the same reason: “What about the Democrats?” It’s true that the post-Obama party has stretched its ideological spectrum; it’s also true that Biden’s nomination, on top of the 2018 election results, revealed a Democratic coalition still anchored by the center-left. Not that any such nuance matters. To be a Republican today requires you to exist in a constant state of moral relativism, turning every chance at self-analysis into an assault on the other side, pretending the petting zoo next door is comparable to the three-ring circus on your front lawn. (My Emphasis)
Or in a brutal way reflecting the very angle of FOX NEWS as conveyed to Mr. Alberta, President Trump and the Republican party has been reduced to a solely demeaning agenda of:
“Owning the libs and pissing off the media,” shrugs Brendan Buck, a longtime senior congressional aide and imperturbable party veteran if ever there was one. “That’s what we believe in now. There’s really not much more to it.” (My Emphasis)
Hence the president and all the Republican machinery have continued to feed into each other’s incompetence, smarminess, fear, self-deception, and absolute indifference to its grave long-term consequences that have sadly permeated through perverse political osmosis to its overall apparatus as well as the very radical right base of the party by sending the wrong signal – Solely for the sake of short-term raw power. The Charlottesville, Virginia riots with the publicly stated racist anti-Semitic slurs of “Jews will not replace us” and “we are not going to let the Jews take over the world” and the president’s infamous response that there were ‘‘very fine people on both sides’’ should have been a red flag that was whitewashed and swept under the carpet leading to the Capitol Hill’s insurrection and, again, as expected his remarks to the Capitol Hill insurgents that: “We love you, you’re very special “ with complete impunity, remorse or serious and genuine condemnation from his own party. In fact, there has been a complete lack of leadership in the Republican party and everyone either murmuring or running for cover in times of daily, if not hourly crisis during the course of this administration.
There are those like Lindsey Graham that according to Don Winslow the crime and mystery writer @donwinslow have sold their soul not surprisingly because of blackmail by the president. In his 1 October 1, 2019 Tweet he says:
“Have you wondered why @LindseyGrahamSC has been defending @realDonaldTrump like his life depends on it? A friend in federal law enforcement told me about a certain threat @realDonaldTrump has made to Graham. It’s personal, It’s awful, And it’s working very well.
But others like Mitch McConnell and his wife Elaine Chao have been on the gravy train of the Republican Party for several decades and are ardent supporters of President Trump. Yet like many others in this administration, Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned after the Capitol Hill incident as a matter of convenience resembling Captain Louis Renault described before by pretending to have been startled at the President’s behavior. In reality, they jumped the dream cruise liner they have enjoyed for the past four years and been accomplice with its misbehaved drunken captain just a few hundred feet before it has docked at the port. How conveniently Ms. Chao forgets that she was standing next to the President when he uttered those assertions after the Charlottesville, Virginia riots. What has been so incomprehensible is the American Jewish community that is always so vocal about anti-Semitism, to have been silent and given the President a complete waiver.
The Farther Back you can look, The Farther Forward you will see.
THE UPSHOT BEYOND THE RHETORIC
THE REPUBLICAN PARTY — AMERICAN DOMESTIC AND
The Republican Party has much deadwood in its rank and file that are not doing it any service having been obsequious to the president, like Nikki Haley that has resulted in the downward spiral of the Republican party. Consciously or unwittingly they have become in the majority, the party of the frustrated whites and certainly an umbrella for the radical Right-wing Nationalists through the President’s direct as well as dog-whistling conduct and language that — they could and have — related to over the past four years. Unless there is an emergence of a new, younger generation conservative orientated and intellectually minded leadership at its helm, the Republican party shall lose whatever little influence it currently musters at the grass-root American politics. The surprising number of people who voted for President Trump in the last election did so not because of ideology or policies but fear and rhetoric of the progressive agenda of the Democratic party they were sold as the arrival of communism on the horizon. The BLM and the ensuing senseless riots with a silent Democratic party did not help either.
Above all, the Republican party needs much soul searching in correcting the direction of its moral compass and acknowledging the changing socio-cultural and demographic landscape of American politics. The politics of hatred, fear, and demagoguery will no longer wield fruit in the post-Trump era, and doubling or tripling down as some Republicans have and continue to do is counterproductive. On the other hand, the Progressive wing of the Democratic party must be commended for having kept a low-key profile during the recent insurgency; along with Senators Warren and Sanders who should be applauded for avoiding any provocation of particularly – the extreme radical White Nationalists thus by not providing any ammunition to either the President, the Republican operatives or the Right-wing insurgents.
The attack on Capitol Hill should be called for what it was: A planned and instigated political coup d’Etat by President Trump and the encouragement he had received through his enablers over the course of his presidency that has accumulated into a snowball effect resulting in a cult of personality. There are no more Sam Ervin, Howard Baker, or Fred Thompson in The Republican Party who would do the right thing in impeaching their own Party’s sitting president; or would dare to ask him, as Senator Baker did during the Watergate investigation the famous question: “What did the President know and when did he know it?”. Instead, even now President Trump has become a scary figure like Hitler, Stalin, or any other dictator. As Stalin lay dead in his room, no one dared check on him for fear of his wrath. The same is true with President Trump and all the Republican Party and the remaining White House Staff who have not dared and instead have run to the exit.
Internationally, The Capitol Hill insurgency has been a foreign policy and public relations disaster, to say the least that will be another mess left by The President that needs cleaning up by President-Elect Biden and his team. The image of the Far-Right groups attacking the American Democracy and its symbolic institution with impunity is an example that shall probably haunt the world democracies and other politically fragile countries. In Europe, with its collective anti-Semitic past history and xenophobia, the American example can be a strong interpretation of a serious new round of Kristallnacht – the Night of The Broken Glass when Jews were attacked by the Nazi’s equivalent of the Proud Boys while the authorities – gladly – shrugged their shoulders. So an already anti-Semitic Europe (Oh yes, some things never change) and a Very Coward, timid and silent American political class does not set a good precedent. They shut up at Charlottesville, Virginia, minimized or continued to find excuses for The Capitol Hill, and are still hesitant to confront the sociocultural and racial dangers of partnering with the forces of evil. As expected, Vice-President Pence has been a fig leaf even in times of such historical epochal moment. But then again as an inconsequential person in the line of the presidency, he deserves a Doctor Evil analogy in the Austin Powers where he states:
“Finally, We Come To My Number-Two Man. His Name? Number Two”
Exactly what he deserves and how he has been treated by President Trump – a non-entity turning a blind eye to all of his misdeeds including the pardoning of many present or past convicts such as Michael Milken while almost getting him and his family killed at The Capitol Hill. But the question is: would the Republicans ever learn their lessons and live up to a higher cause — and do they even care about decency and a legacy for the future generations? In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “I do not know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” But the Republicans have sunk so far into an abyss of moral and political degradation with complete indifference for the direction the country has been heading to and carrying them with the Tsunami of political destruction they have been largely responsible for creating through a political Frankenstein as the president. The German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller’s (1892 – 1984) well-known poem relating to the rise of Nazi Germany describes the Republican attitude so well during these challenging times without exaggeration. As he recalls in these beautiful and telling verses:
First, they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me
Recently, Senators Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney were harassed at the airport by the same people they have helped create in their own manner of indifference and cowardliness like the rest of their colleagues. They must know by now in their Heart of Hearts that they are alone in dealing with the political monsters they have created, nurtured, and manipulated to their own unscrupulous advantage. However, this is the end of the road and as the title of the Netflix movie – Game Over, Man! Suggests, it is a big-time for an uneasy sobering after-party house cleaning at the Republican Party, thrown by the Wild and Crazy guy as the comedian Steve Martin would say and enjoyed by all Republicans present. Let’s hope on this memorable Doctor Martin Luther King Day, we can all dream together reaching the horizon of socioeconomic and racial justice that is still a far cry from reality by each of us doing our part. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be The Change you want the world to be” starting today.
As for the still President Trump — in his own machination mind, the System shall catch up with him. So Jail, personal health issues, and/or obscurity is the only end to his ending in the horror movie he has produced and acted in over the past four years. One can imagine that President-elect Biden, only for the Good of The Country to pardon President Trump inspired by the same motives as Former President Gerald R. Ford’s pardoning of President Nixon in hoping as he had asserted:
“My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over … Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy.”
The only enormous difference was that the United States at the time in large part stood by the Constitution as the “…government of laws and not of men….” whereas today the divisiveness created by President Trump amongst the base and the indifference of many Republican rank and file for the rule of law will be a longlasting healing process. President-elect Biden’s hypothetical, but very realistic scenario of pardoning President Trump if it happens, should be seen and welcomed in that light.
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 Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter XXII, ‘Concerning the Secretaries of Princes.’