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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Crunch-time: Exposing the worst leadership stunt since the divine right of kings

History’s greatest modern leadership stunt – that is, Trump playing at being president – has earned a clear dump-by date. Exposure of lawless Trumpery increases geometrically by its range, duration and interwoven criminality – plus the extraordinary number of insider sources.

Image Credit: Matt Rourke/AP Photo

The nervy, two year Trump bluff is about to be called, raised and unmasked. No president faced half the criminal allegations – nor today’s wide-ranging army of dogged truth-seekers. High time for this generation’s Watergate catharsis, even more pressing by engaging more corruption with far less ruling competence. Let the national reconciliation begin, first with confirmation of what we know, then revelation and insight on motivation – plus the all-important restitution of truth to the public forum. Reality wilts by not invalidating deception and propaganda.

The great significance of Democrats taking the House control need not involve new or explosive findings. Instead, here’s the guarantee that full details of what we already know in outline will be carved in the historical record forever. Knowledge is power in a democracy but only when evidence is verified – and we then come together to counter abuses of power, obscured by lies, denials, hush money, and non-stop coverups.

Thus, history’s greatest modern leadership stunt – that is, Trump playing at being president – has earned a clear dump-by date. Exposure of suspect Trumpery increases geometrically by its range, duration and interwoven criminality – plus the extraordinary number of insider sources. What other defendant ever face more flipping from reliable insiders – from Manifold and Gates through Cohen? And more likely to come, not just with hearsay but documentation. How useful when fleshing in upcoming income tax returns, or Mueller’s take on election conspiracies and obstruction of justice. Let’s not ignore Trump and cohorts face NY DA indictments over Stormy Davis hush money/campaign violations and scrutiny of vulnerable family inheritance tax machinations.

Tale that never ends

Why then there’s also the brouhaha over emoluments – with specific monthly dollar amounts to prove how profitable it is to own hotel/resorts and be president. What about numerous projects coughed up by the worldwide sleaze from Putin, operatives, hackers and Russian oligarchs? Here is the proverbial tale that never ends.

Even if not formally removed, Trump’s personal credibility – awash with blunders and nary a legislation gain to match so many specific campaign promises – will evaporate. Exposure of a phony presidency, especially such a thin-skinned narcissist, takes the prize for the lamest duck to ever wattle on land. Get that Trump presidential library going expect no donations from the Trumpster) just to house voluminous reports, indictments, testimony, evidence and witness lists – not to mention denials, misdirections, lies, accusations, guilty pleas, and countless conspiracy fabrication distractions. Trump will go from the most self-aggrieved public figure in history to the most impeachable president, with or without House action. The reality that Trump daily tries to distort will have its revenge.

And more: indictments should also sting Trump children, certainly advisors galore – even a son-in-law. Before this mayhem ends, I think Americans will gasp at the sweep and audacity of the criminality, the utter ineptitude of the actors, and the full confirmation of Rick Wilson’s book title, “Everything Trump Touches Dies.” Watch out: this kind of sustained uproar is what makes cynical presidents look for a good-old-fashioned (phony) wars to drum up.

Mid-term confirms reason, reality

The Trump re-election tide, in doubt with high disapproval numbers, is turning against him. The mid-term emphatically proved regions he must have to stay credible, if not re-electable – the Great Lakes states, Pennsylvania – have turned their back on their WH lottery play. This mid-term delivers two telling lessons: 1) the sharp House reversal reaffirms the overwhelming judgment of the ’16 popular vote, recasting Trump as a wrongheaded, counterproductive default; and 2) in less than two years, Trump has shot his wad, conspicuous by not enacting his signature promises on the Wall, cheaper health care for more people, more job opportunities and higher pay, peace in our time, especially in the Middle-east and with Russia, Iran and Canada (!).

In short, instead of delivering on campaign promises, he instead spent two years honing his reputation as dishonest deal-maker – by concocting slews of White House scandals on top of the swampiest cabinet in memory. Does his “base” think failure and disgrace make America great? So, we now get to test whether the cult holds firm, indeed how much tons of negative evidence can be denied or wished away. What happens when things get so bad a majority of Republican office holders deem Trump an existential threat to their power and their party? That leads to direct criticism, intra-party rancor, even primary challenges as this bully won’t be bullied out of office (though he may resign if he gets sufficiently fed up or pissed off).

Nor are we finished with residuals, like the Kavanaugh fiasco fallout. Who thinks that the firestorm over the devious Sessions/Whitaker swap is closer to the end than the beginning? What was especially damaging about the Kavanaugh caravan of doubters – plus the terrible tax bill and years of fighting health care benefits, like pre-existing conditions – is they all taint the entire parade of Republican thuggery. Trump is no ballast to such bad press – and what can the do-nothing Senate do in the next year to offset perceptions it’s run by heartless rightwing ideologues?

The party’s over

Overall, the election both caused and mirrored the Trump decline. While the mid-term formalized the House shift towards rationality and accountability, Trump has been flailing for months, with far more noise than achievements, here or abroad. The trade war is failing, undermining any fantasy he knows what he’s doing on commerce; reversals in North Korea and more empty reprisals against Iran only confirm failed policies, despite all that alleged personal charm. Why did the “stable genius” so badly err by obsessing over the fabricated “caravan invasion’ – vs pushing the only issue that would have cut GOP House losses: jobs and positive economic conditions? Court losses (on DACA and Keystone pipeline) a week ago came on the heels of damning reports the Trump-driven, Stormy Davis hush money violated campaign funding laws. It’s hard to recall the last Trump “win” or even what could dislodge dreadful numbers. He won’t gain when Ryan Zinke is forced out – again proving that Trump’s den of thieves cabinet mirrors his character with uncanny consistency. Thank goodness for small blessings.

Going forward, in what battleground states or elections will tattered Trump coat tails not damage candidates he favors or visits? Let this pinnacle of pettiness rattle close elections – and the boomerangs will follow – booster shots for more women, many of color, to win offices. However likely eventual House impeachment – and Dems will take their time while disgraces pile up – the lack of Senate conviction even after impeachment awards him two more years to screw up. He never really was more than a loudmouth celebrity agile at parlaying bizarre memes to stir up cranks. Nor did the GOP take the Trump Follies seriously: none agreed to a $25 billion wall or endorsed attacks on Islam or Muslim culture as the trigger for terrorism. From now on, Trump lives or dies on one thing alone: can he help or hurt GOP chances in 2020? And there’s precious little he can do to reverse this trend – any more than he couldn’t stop the House tsunami and all the upcoming 2019 gifts looming on the horizon. Happy New Year!

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Robert S. Becker
For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.
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