Monday, January 16, 2017

This is the scariest thing...

...I've read in a while. Damon Linker writes in The Week, "What Trump has wrought," (my emphasis):

The contrast to Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal is illuminating. Nixon was forced to resign the presidency because he was caught in a web of corruption and a tangle of lies. But Nixon only got caught and faced politically fatal consequences for his actions because his corruption and lies were visible against a backdrop of facts and truths that just about everybody from both political parties assumed and took for granted — and because Nixon himself yielded before these facts and truths.

Now imagine Trump in Nixon's shoes. He would begin by flagrantly attacking Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein immediately after their very first story runs in The Washington Post. Soon the attacks would extend to the paper as a whole and any media outlet that runs summaries of the Post's investigations or tries to follow up on aspects of the story. Within days, the relentless barrage of abuse on Twitter and in press conferences from the president himself would mushroom into dozens of stories a day on Fox News, Breitbart, talk radio shows, and countless websites. Charges, counter-charges, and conspiracy theories would fly in every direction. And every day, the president would deny everything, calling it a witch hunt, a left-wing hatchet job run behind the scenes by members of the Democratic leadership, each one of whom receives an insulting nickname that the president uses to mock them. Soon the nicknames would be everywhere online, used for fun even by journalists critical of Trump.

Even if we assume (implausibly) that the investigation of the president would continue in the midst of this circus, is it even remotely realistic to assume that the revelations contained in the string of stories could gain political traction? Trump would only face danger if Republicans in the House of Representatives turned on him, but they would never turn on him with the Republican electorate calling the stories (on the basis of no evidence whatsoever) thoroughgoing nonsense orchestrated by the president's political enemies.

In this Trump-as-Nixon scenario, there would be no serious threat of impeachment, and therefore no resignation. The storm would eventually pass, succeeded or merely drowned out by the next one, or by the half-dozen simultaneous (and much less serious) mini-scandals drummed up by the right-wing media to add to the chaos of distraction. The series of stories in the Post would still be read closely by outraged Democrats. The newspaper would still win its Pulitzer Prize (mocked by the president as a "liberal-media booby prize for talentless hacks"). But the "scandal" would have no significant political impact.

That's not hard to believe, is it? Scary.

1 comment:

Ed Crotty said...

Only the GOP can stop Trump.