The Silence of the Dems
What's that thing on Trump's Head?
The competition for most abused political cliche is fierce, but perhaps we should take a second look at the fundamental Democratic nostrum of the Trump era: You should not interrupt your opponent while he is committing suicide. It hasn’t worked. Trump and his followers rampage unimpeded, even though he’s shot himself in the foot so many times I doubt he has any toes left.
True, there are signs, at the margins, that Orange appeal is withering. Aaron Blake of The Washington Post has a deep dive into the cross-tabs that indicates even Republicans understand that Trump has done very bad things:
In an Associated Press-NORC poll, 1 in 5 or fewer Americans said they believed Trump did “nothing wrong” in each of his four legal cases. Of his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, 21 percent said he did “nothing wrong.” In both the classified documents case and the Georgia case (the poll was conducted before this week’s indictment there), it was 15 percent. And just 14 percent said Trump did “nothing wrong” in the Manhattan case involving an alleged coverup of hush money payments.
According to Blake and NORC, a grand total of 7% believe Trump did nothing wrong in any of the cases.
And yet, he persists. Trumpism is the most coherent force in American politics. His bullpucky remains largely unchallenged, except by Chris Christie and a few other Republican peripherals. And even they don’t question his “successful” policies as President. A myth has grown that Trump knew what he was doing as POTUS and he did the right thing—like appointing people to the Supreme Court who, in effect, allowed abortion to be banned in many states (a policy most Americans hate); misplaying COVID; reducing taxes on zillionaires, which exploded the national debt; creating the Afghanistan withdrawal policy (which Joe Biden followed a bit too faithfully); coddling Putin; coddling Kim Jong Un; coddling assorted racists, anti-semites and bigots; doing very little to stabilize the Southern border, except separating children from their parents; doing nothing about climate change (actually worse: putting a leash on the Environmental Protection Agency). And, above all, promulgating a boorish, punch-up atmosphere that has concussed the rest of the country. And, of course, conspiring to overthrow the government after he lost.
That’s some record, right there.
The Democrats believe Trump’s depravity is self-evident. Joe Biden has nothing to say about it. Indeed, the only real Democratic response to Trump has been a classic liberal dodge: Send in the lawyers. The cases against Trump are convincing and justified. But it’s worth noting that the case in which most Americans think Trump did something wrong—the Stormy Daniels hush-money thing—is the least plausible legally. That should send a message to the Party of Litigation. This message: People understand sex. They do not understand obstruction of justice. You are not going to drive a stake into the heart of The Trumpire with a legal technicality. Jennifer Rubin argues that the Georgia case has, at its heart, Trumpian violence done to those black Georgia poll-workers—the racial component is the unspoken outrage here—but that seems a three-cushion bank shot.
Where’s the outrage? Well, try to explain the fake elector scheme—which, to me, seems the crux of Trump’s complicity in a coup attempt—in twenty-five words or less. A better question: Where’s the ridicule? Perhaps it would be more profitable to stop pussy-footing around and try a derisive counter-assault on the jerk, as Matt Labash suggests here:
This is not the anger commonly derided as “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” Which I have counter-defined in the past as: state an obvious truth about Trump, and when you do, his supporters become deranged. [My italics]
But maybe, just maybe, derision is a tactic to explore, especially if derision leads to derangement. Trumpian derangement might just erupt into inchoate babbling, free-range weeping and screaming, sweaty Giulianian hair dye streaking and severe gastrointestinal events. He could go off the rails. The most effective attack on Trump I’ve ever witnessed was Barack Obama’s hilarious smack-down at the 2011 White House Correspondents dinner, with Trump in the room, his orange countenance turning purple:
Now, I know that he's taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter — like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?…
But all kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example — no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of "Celebrity Apprentice" — at the steakhouse, the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn't blame Lil' Jon or Meat Loaf. You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir. Well handled.
Obama followed up later that night by having Osama bin Laden killed.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Donald Trump is a ridiculous human being. But he’s a bully and so no one has the courage to treat him…the way he treats other people. No one ever asks: Why is your face so orange? Or, What is that thing on top of your head? Do you really want to look like Stanley Tucci in The Hunger Games? Or, even a more restrained: “How long, Sir, does it take you to prepare your hair every morning?” Or, why didn’t you just photo-shop those pictures of your Inauguration crowd to prove you had more people than Obama? Or, did you really want to make that Texas dufus Surgeon General? Or, weren’t you pretty terrible appointing judges, since so many of them threw out your election fraud cases? Why did 63 different judges toss your lawsuits?
Treating Donald Trump with respect is not just unwarranted, it defies the law of the playground. You stand up to bullies. You expose their cowardice. You make fun of them. You say, “I’m rubber and you’re glue. Everything you say to me bounces back on you.” Jack Smith is deranged? Aha, projection! Trump is really talking about himself.
Of course, Joe Biden can’t do this. Not presidential. But his silence about this summer in Trumpland hasn’t been very effective, either. He has said nothing about the seriousness of the indictments; it is a President’s job to explain these things, to put them into perspective. He has allowed tawdry creeps like Jim Jordan to demean the authority of the Justice Department—and Biden’s surrogates are even worse: Would the Rule of Law collapse if Merrick Garland showed some righteous anger? Would it be untoward to suggest that more Americans—especially those who associate Garland’s supine silence with weakness— might think twice about Trump if Democrats actually started to fight back in ways that people who didn’t go to law school might understand?
Biden’s silence extends beyond Trump. There’s his silence about Hunter. There’s his—and his party’s—silence on issues like immigration and black crime and teaching gender fluidity to pre-pubescents and putting no limits at all on abortion….and, with schools about to open, his silence about the need for more creative educational alternatives like charter schools. Not only did a comprehensive, national Stanford study show that charter schools work, but a recent poll showed that 74% of Democrats favor them. By my decidedly unofficial calculation, that means 90% of Dems who are not members of teachers unions want to see this crucial reform. But silence pervades the donkey party, including silence about the woolly mammoth in the room: The widespread belief that Biden is just too old for the job and Kamala Harris is just too flimsy a standby. Kudos to Rep. Dean Phillips for at least raising the issue publicly:
“I want him to preserve his legacy, not to compromise it,” Phillips said in an interview. “And this is exactly why I’m asking — pass the torch, open the stage.”
I’m with him. (We’ll see if Hakim Jeffries can shut Phillips up—more Demmy silence—as The Washington Post suggests.)
Silence just won’t do. Biden has been a very good President. But I’m not sure what Democrats have to offer in 2024 aside from the fact that they’re not Trump. Where there is no vision, democracy falters.
Now See This…
Just saw Cairo Conspiracy on Amazon Prime. I’m a sucker for all things Middle Eastern and this is an excellent film about the inner workings of Islam, the selection of a new Imam. It is quiet, serious, subtle. Worth a look.
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