Friday, March 24, 2017

November Horror Leads To March Madness

The FBI is investigating a sitting president to determine whether his campaign colluded with Russia  in the 2016 election.  As CNN reported, U.S. officials have indicated that "associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign."  Have we become so inured to the day-to-day craziness of the Trump Administration that this isn't an earth-shattering revelation? 

Then there is the pervasiveness of Trump's conflicts of interest, which is also staggering.  A recent report by Public Citizen detailed how: Trump has failed to isolate himself from the management of the Trump Organization;  the company has, contrary to Trump's assurances, continued to pursue new foreign deals; Trump has not, as promised, donated profits from his Washington D.C. hotel to the U.S. Treasury; and he has failed to appoint an independent ethics officer for the company.  It concluded that Trump has "pursued policies that boost the financial interests of contributors, friends, and family" and "with the conflicts of interest unchecked, the Trump administration is well on its way to becoming the most scandal-ridden administration in history."

Trump's lies have become so commonplace that they barely register.  He tweets absurdities and the media dispels them and moves on.  But then came his claim that President Obama wiretapped his phones which, with or without scare quotes, is not just a blatant lie but a libelous one -- one that he still refuses to acknowledge is false despite the categorical statements from the intelligence community.

And as we saw again today, there's his remarkable lack of understanding of politics and policy that has resulted in the collapse of three main pillars of his campaign -- that he would build a wall Mexico would pay for, that he would install a Muslim travel ban, and that he would repeal and replace Obamacare. 

Oh, and Trump has not only failed to fill an unprecedented number of administrative posts, he has surrounded himself with white nationalists.  This includes the Attorney General, who may have committed perjury during his confirmation hearing when he failed to disclose his contacts with . . . the Russians.


For Republicans, the game plan is clear.  As always, party over country.  Derail the investigation into what should alarm all Americans, not just Democrats -- Russian meddling in our elections and the Trump campaign's role.  Ignore Trump's financial self-dealing and global business entanglements that strongly suggest the President of the United States has divided loyalties.  Minimize the lies, the corruption, the incompetence and the mental instability.  For the Republican Party it is all about ensuring that a right wing nominee is appointed to the Supreme Court, gutting environmental and workplace regulations and Wall Street oversight for the benefit of big business, and passing tax cuts for the wealthy funded by the removal of the safety net for the less privileged.  And doing so before the presidency implodes. 

The critical job for Democrats is to resist -- to refuse to cooperate while the very legitimacy of the presidency is in serious question; to raise the issue of conflicts and demand Trump's tax returns and financial disclosures before considering any policy initiative or nomination; to filibuster the current Supreme Court nominee because a president who is under an FBI investigation should not be allowed to select a lifetime-appointed justice -- especially when the seat was stolen from the Democrats by a cynical and unprecedented power play.

The astonishing failure of the repeal of Obamacare has exposed deep fissures within the Republican Party and Trump's complete inability to navigate the complexity of the political process.  But that doesn't mean the Republicans won't keep their eyes on what they prize -- unfettered corporate power and tax reform, with a side of social conservatism -- and so Democrats better gird themselves for the next round.


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