Meanwhile on a sane planet

People would care that we have a president that promotes baseless and scurrilous conspiracy theories.  Frum:

August 10, 1969: San Clemente, California—President Richard Nixon accused his predecessor Lyndon Baines Johnson of complicity in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Speaking with reporters on the first day of a 10-day stay at his Pacific Ocean vacation home …

Of course, that never happened. Obviously. How could it; how dare it? But hadit happened, such an accusation—by a president, against a former president—would have convulsed the United States and the world. Today, President Donald Trump accused his predecessor Bill Clinton—or possibly his 2016 campaign opponent, the former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—of complicity in the death of the accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

Many seem to have responded with a startled shrug. What do you expect? It’s just Trump letting off steam on Twitter.

Reactions to actions by Trump are always filtered through the prism of the ever more widely accepted view—within his administration, within Congress, within the United States, and around the world—that the 45th president is a reckless buffoon; a conspiratorial, racist moron, whose weird comments should be disregarded by sensible people. [bold is mine; italics in original]

By now, Trump’s party in Congress, the members of his Cabinet, and even his White House entourage all tacitly agree that Trump’s occupancy of the office held by Washington, Lincoln, FDR, and Eisenhower must be a bizarre cosmic joke, not to be taken seriously. CNN’s Jake Tapper on August 2 quoted a “senior national security official” as saying: “Everyone at this point ignores what the president says and just does their job. The American people should take some measure of confidence in that.”

[litany of bad policy]

Compared with that, mere slurs and insults perhaps weigh lighter in the crushing Dumpster-load of Trump’s output of unfitness for the office he holds.

But it shouldn’t be forgotten, either, in the onrush of events. The certainty that Trump will descend ever deeper into subbasements of “new lows” after this new low should not numb us to its newness and lowness.

Neither the practical impediments to impeachment and the Twenty-Fifth Amendment process, nor the foibles and failings of the candidates running to replace him, efface the fact that this presidency shames and disgraces the office every minute of every hour of every day. And even when it ends, however it ends, the shame will stain it still.

But somehow we go on (mostly) pretending the president is not an incompetent buffoon, taking him neither literally or seriously.  And to be clear, there’s some very real blame for this– Republican politicians.  The press reports this crap.  Democrats and a few well-meaning Republicans care, but McConnell, McCarthy, Fox News, etc., have made it clear that this is just Trump and he may be an incompetent buffoon, but he’s our incompetent buffoon.  And as long as they don’t stand up to this, the rest of us are just stuck with it.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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