Friday, November 4, 2016

More scandals for Trump and an indictment of his appeasers

More scandals for Trump

The Daily Kos has two stories about troubles for Trump. The first concern allegations by a woman who claimed to have been raped by Trump when she was an aspiring model aged 13 years. If you know more than what is in the Kos article, let me know (with links to sources, please).

The second story has to do with Trump’s connections with the mob, in this case his relationship with Robert LiButti who had ties to organized crime. The reporting is supported by a May article in Politico by David Cay Johnston.

The more historically interesting reporting is about the individuals and institutions who acted toward Trump in the same manner that the appeasers acted toward Hitler in the run-up to World War II.

Identifying “Trumps’ Appeasers”

Your Scriber has repeatedly asserted that the real story about Trump and Trumpism is not about Donald Trump but rather about his supporters. The media, and Scriber too, have focused on the millions of voters who have ignored the silliness of Trump’s so-called policy positions, cast aside their Christian values, embraced a warped patriotism, and tolerated alleged criminal actions and documented shady business dealing. Judging from the lack of serious press attention to the connections of Trump and his immediate staff to Russia, I’d say that there is no motivation to convince those voters that those connections mark Trump as a colossal national security threat.

As bad as all that sounds, I have to admit that there are more culpable individuals who have aided and abetted Trump and his campaign by a steady stream of appeasement. That’s the theme of Frank Rich’s article on Trump’s Appeasers. I am going to try to select some snippets that give you the flavor of Rich’s remarks. You should read the original.

To date, the blame game over accountability for Trump has focused mostly on the press (which, of course, is also found guilty by Trump and his followers of promoting Clinton). But the press didn’t create him and did not have the power to stop him. The reality is that Trump’s voters dismissed irrefutable journalism about his grotesque character and various scams, some of it dating back to the 1980s, much as they rationalized his bullying behavior and incendiary positions as a candidate in real time. His voters didn’t give a hoot about the outright fraud of Trump University, his other egregious businesses, his nonpayment of taxes, and his racial and sexual transgressions. They ridiculed or ignored the high-minded editorials and op-eds skewering Trump even when written by conservative pundits (George Will, Michael Gerson, and Bret Stephens most ferociously and persistently) or published in traditionally conservative outlets from National Review to the Arizona Republic. They didn’t even care that the Koch brothers — one of whom, Charles, described Trump’s proposed Muslim registry as “reminiscent of Nazi Germany” — refused to support him.

The only people with the power to shut down Trump were those sitting at the top of the Republican Party. Mike Murphy, the GOP strategist who ran a PAC for Jeb Bush’s ill-fated campaign, divided his fellow Republican elites into three categories: “Vichy Republicans,” who went along with Trump and the party base enamored of him; “Survival Republicans,” who tried to remain as neutral as Switzerland; and “Resistance Republicans,” who actively battled his nomination. Murphy might well have been paraphrasing the writer Andrew Nagorski, whose 2012 book Hitlerland similarly categorized the influential Americans, from diplomats to businessmen, who cycled in and out of Nazi Germany in the 1930s as Hitler consolidated his power: “Some of these Americans demonstrated remarkable courage and prescience, while others stood back and averted their gaze, or, in a few cases, collaborated outright with the new regime.”

Who were/are those “others”, the “Vichy Republicans”, the “Survival Republicans”?

Unfortunately for America, those with real clout in the GOP were without exception Vichy, not Resistance, Republicans: the current leadership of both chambers of Congress (Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell), the party chair (Reince Priebus), and the incumbent senators with national followings (John McCain, Ted Cruz). Not to mention their big donors. These collaborators, in contrast to the conservative pundits and out-of-power Republicans of the Resistance, did have the means to derail Trump. For them to do so would have required the guts to defy a mob in their own party and to summon the sacrifice, strategy, and cunning that constitute leadership. They would have had to risk their own political necks and take hits from their own constituents. They would have had to persuade vanity candidates fracturing the anti-Trump vote, like John Kasich, to drop out. Woulda, coulda: They mustered none of the above. They failed to unite around a candidate who might have stopped Trump in the primaries. No matter what slur Trump disgorged, they failed to act, even when they were the specific targets of his insults. They failed to rally around any plan, however risky or potentially divisive within the party, for challenging Trump at the convention in Cleveland. Indeed, with the exception of three incumbent senators not up for reelection (Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina) and a handful of retro GOP moderates and retiring members in the House, every Republican holding office in Washington remained in the Vichy and Survival camps until long after Trump had locked up the nomination. This hall of shame includes supposedly mainstream northeastern Republicans like Long Island representative Peter King, who after the first debate applauded Trump for exhibiting “the feistiness that I think 51 percent of the American people will like.” And it includes “reaching across the aisle” types often celebrated by centrist pundits as putting country over party. Witness Bob Corker of Tennessee, the ostensibly adult chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: He entertained a brief flirtation with the idea of serving as Trump’s running mate and praised Trump’s notably ludicrous late-April ­foreign-policy address for its “broadness” and “vision.”

Ufortunately, there is another parallel to Hitler’s pre-War Germany.

The Trumpists are more radical than Goldwater’s or Reagan’s followers were. They are building their own burgeoning Breitbart–Roger Ailes media empire and are primed to disregard the results of a “stolen” election in which the loser may not concede. The “Second Amendment people” that Trump egged on are already talking openly about rebellion and assassination after a Clinton victory. The damage they may inflict on the country, let alone the Republican Party and the homegrown Nigel Farage–like leaders they may rally around, is yet to be determined. As Steve Schmidt, the former ­McCain campaign strategist and a #NeverTrumper, told the Washington Post, the postelection GOP will “look like Berlin circa 1945.”

May the election end better than that.

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