The Washington Nationals won the World Series, suggesting that anything is possible. More importantly, the Nationals’ unlikely path to victory showed that if you have a cohesive team that pushes through the rough spots together, that has some stud players who lead by example, and that plays really well when the pressure is the greatest, you can win a very welcome championship against the odds. Progressive Democrats should study the Nationals’ season. They can be the Nationals. Trump never can. He is all that his team has.
Now, when the pressure is the greatest, Trump has not a single “teammate” available to lead by example, what “teammates” he has are all calculating what is in it for them, and pushing through rough spots means running for the door. The Democrats are the better team, flawed for sure, but a much better team. Now is the time to recognize that and “finish the fight” that they have finally begun in earnest.
A big part of the Democratic advantage is that no one seems remotely able to stop Trump from mind farting on his Twitter feed. This means that he is always on the edge of calamity and not even his sycophants can know from one minute to the next how today’s ignorance will undermine yesterday’s “message.” If the Democrats keep pressing and stay united, Trump will continue to double down on his lies to deny the factually undeniable. The more he does this, the more the Democrats will have Trump’s words to paste on his forehead.
Next, there is nothing that the Democrats can do to separate the morally and factually challenged wing of the Republican Party (almost all of the party) from Trump. And it seems there is nothing Trump can do, no matter how dangerous, morally bankrupt or divorced from reality, to cause Republicans to abandon him. So, Democrats, take a deep breath and remember that there are way more than Republicans in the electorate.
With this backdrop in mind, it is time to carefully examine Trump’s telephone “landline” activities without allowing his handheld Twitter feed to obscure the seriousness of his misconduct. These telephone calls to world leaders appear to create a treasure trove of marvelous moments when ignorance, narcissism, greed and just plain stupidity seem to coalesce to produce real harm that cannot be tweeted away. All the while, Trump plows ahead with others listening in.
It is now beyond question that America’s fearless leader loves to chat on the phone with other world leaders, particularly the ones he thinks are fearless like him and know enough to flatter him without using multisyllable words that might confuse him. Dial-up Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mohammed bin Salman, Rodrigo Duterte, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the like. And then stop to remember that even now, with an impeachment investigation swirling around Trump’s corrupt call to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, the nation knows little of the undoubtedly ignorant and potentially dangerous content of most of Trump’s calls to his democracy-challenged buddies.
Notwithstanding the content of other calls, the extortion call to the president of Ukraine either was a tipping point or someone made a big mistake. For whatever reason, a few people of conscience were allowed to listen in before Trump, Mike Pompeo, William Barr and Mick Mulvaney even suspected that there might be people of conscience anywhere near the White House, never mind with access to the imperial landline.
So it has come to pass in the land of the free and the home of the brave that some of those people of conscience finally heard enough of Trump’s corrupt duplicity to raise collective concerns that America’s precious “national security” was being threatened by the highest officer in the land. Yes, by the very person constitutionally-mandated to lead the fight to protect the nation and its citizenry — the commander-in-chief, the president of the United States. (Cue to a stirring rendition of “God Bless America.”)
As Trump’s enablers scrambled to lift the drawbridge, Trump and one of his most trusted acolytes jumped the moat and screamed to the heavens that what the people of conscience say I said is what I said, we do it all the time, it was “perfect,” and even admitted there was a quid pro quo. (To help those for whom Latin is not even a second language, an easy example of quid pro quo, likely lifted from Trump’s playbook, might be helpful: If you agree to never sell this condo to black people, I will give you a better deal on the purchase price.)
This would be the impeachment ballgame if America were a nation that could agree that facts matter, that there is no such thing as “alternative facts” and that no matter how many times you tell the same lie, it never becomes the truth. But that is not today’s America.
When confronted with uncomfortable truths and allegations of serious misconduct, Trump goes on the attack. He lies, and then the press broadcasts his lies as “breaking news.” He lies again, and the process is repeated so often that there is talk of something called a “new normal.” It might be worthwhile to interrupt the breaking news to remind viewers that there is nothing new about those accused of misconduct lying to hide it. What is new is that so many seem so willing to accept the lies as some alternative truth.
But this time, not only were people of conscience listening in to Trump’s “perfect” phone call with the new president of Ukraine, but Trump himself released a wonderfully incriminatory incomplete transcript of that phone call. As the factual context of the call and the full content of Trump’s message are increasingly exposed, each new revelation seems to bury Trump under an avalanche of official misconduct aided and abetted by a rogues gallery of high-level government officials and lowlife private operatives.
With real evidence being fully released and public testimony about to begin, Trump stooges like Barr, Pompeo, Mike Pence and Mulvaney are likely to step to any microphone they can find that doesn’t require sworn testimony to try their hand at convincing the public that Trump’s “perfect” phone call was something other than the extortion for personal gain that sworn testimony has shown it to be. They will talk about process, their version of real-world diplomacy, Barack Obama, servers without borders and then tell all that even if the call wasn’t “perfect,” the caller is.
I have a dream that the stooges give us the “we do it all the time” version of the story. Then, in my dream, each one of them has a favorite phone call to share in which Trump corruptly debases the nation and undermines America’s security. I imagine there are some all-time greats with Putin, Erdogan and Mohammed bin Salman. Not to mention cringeworthy moments with Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson.
*[A version of this article was cross-posted on the author’s blog, Hard Left Turn.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.