The president of the United States is a racist, anti-Semitic, lying, paranoid, philandering, nepotistic, potty-mouthed, narcissistic, reality TV personality, who makes everyone uncomfortable when he talks about his daughter.
Unfortunately, none of those things make him unfit to be president.
As a person with a background in history, I try to think about events in a larger frame than the 24-hour news cycle.
JFK was a philanderer and gave his brother the Attorney General position.
LBJ was a racist. He used the N-word. A lot.
Nixon was a paranoid anti-Semite and a crook. His secret tapes brought into the public lexicon “expletive deleted.” He pointed out once that while he swore a lot, LBJ was worse. He resigned before the impeachment process started.
Ford and Rockefeller were the only people who held the office of president and vice president and were not elected by the people to either office.
Ted Koppel’s count of the days of the Iran hostage crisis brought down the Carter administration (Carter, by the way, also had anti-Semitic tendencies) and ushered Reagan, an actor who had some governing experience, into office and Reagan proceeded not to remember anything about Oliver North or Iran or the Contras.
Bush Sr. cleaned up the Iran-Contra mess with 6 pardons in his last days in office.
Clinton was a philanderer, made improper use of a cigar in the Oval Office, and had too many whatever-gates to count. But that’s not what he was impeached for. His crimes were perjury and obstruction of justice. There were not enough votes to remove him from office.
Bush Jr. was not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he managed to convince the American people to go to war in Iraq to dispose of non-existent weapons of mass destruction and to fight Osama bin Laden, a Saudi who was actually hiding out in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan.
There is a lot floating around about Obama, but in historical time, it’s too soon for an analysis.
I bring all this up because I’m still annoyed by Fire and Fury and the short-sighted debates of the 24-hour news cycle.
Two books came out this week that don’t talk about all the petty relationships within the White House: It’s Even Worse than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston, and Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum, senior editor of The Atlantic. They talk about how the Trump machine capitalized on all the holes in the system, how the presidency is based mostly on tradition and Trump has thumbed his nose at all that (which is not technically illegal), how previous presidents may have been flawed but at least they put forward their ideas of how to improve America and Trump is doing nothing of the kind, and how everything that the Trump administration is doing in every department is destroying the foundation of US democracy as we know it. Just reading the excerpts available on Amazon is blood-chilling and nightmare-inducing.
How did the internet respond? Crickets, as the internet is wont to say.
Meanwhile, Fire and Fury is set to become a TV show and is currently #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List. (To be fair, we’ll have to wait a week to see the numbers for the other two books.)
What will bring down the president?
Verifiable impeachable offenses. According to the Constitution, these are “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” And then a vote to remove him from office. Get busy, Mueller!
His own choice to resign. Nixon resigned when he saw that he lost all political support in Congress. Republicans! Are you listening?
But I’m worried. The American people would rather read a journalistically problematic book of gossip. Two journalists wrote serious critiques of the Trump administration and few people even noticed. The GOP won’t recognize that the emperor has no clothes. I’m not even sure where the Democrats are.
So come election time, will a slim majority vote for another episode of the circus? It sure does make for riveting TV.
Thinking about the Constitution reminded me of the SchoolHouse Rock song about the Preamble of the Constitution (We the People), but Youtube suggested another oh-so-appropriate video: an explanation of the Separation of Powers depicting government as a three-ring circus. Sadly, the analogy is apt.