Monday, December 3, 2018

The stuff of nightmares - the Russia investigation prompts the question of how America will weather the coming storm

Suppose that several things are clear. If Trump was dealing with Moscow about a Trump Tower while running as candidate for our presidency. If Trump has obstructed justice, for example, by firing his FBI director. If Trump has subverted the justice department. If his campaign engaged with Russians as they interfered with our election. If Trump has gone totally soft on Russia. And if Trump has implicitly, at least, condoned the murder of a Saudi journalist who was a resident of the U. S. Suppose that those things are true.

“for the people who support and defend Trump, this has already been absorbed and absolved” writes Charles M. Blow, columnist for the NY Times, who asksWhat Happens If … He concludes: The possibilities ahead in the Russia investigation suggest we are not reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather entering one. (h/t Sherry Moreau)

What has been absorbed and absolved and by whom prompts questions that seem existential for our country. Blow asks:

How would Americans who support Trump now respond to evidence that Team Trump put their own personal and financial interests over the national interest? Would they break from their blind support and turn away from him and turn on him? How could they justify wearing the blinders for so long and countenancing so much? What language would they use to correct their complicity?

As I have said before, the real story of the 2016 election are those questions Blow puts to us. The real question is about the nature of Trump’s supporters and what they will or will not do when confronted the answers to those questions. Blow continues.

There is a precedent in the Nixon investigation. When the evidence of wrongdoing was clear and incontrovertible, people began to peel away, tails tucked and full of shame.

But that was a different time, one in which media wasn’t so fractured and partisan, before the advent of social media and our current dissociable mentalities.

Nixon had no propaganda arm. Trump has one. It’s called Fox News. There is little daylight between the network’s programming and the White House’s priorities. If Trump goes down, so too does Fox, in some measure. So the network has a vested interest in defending Trump until the bitter end, and that narrative-crafting could impede an otherwise natural and normal disaffection with Trump.

Furthermore, Trump does not strike me as a man amenable to contrition or one interested in the health and stability of the nation.

I expect Trump to admit nothing, even if faced with proof positive of his own misconduct. There is nothing in the record to convince me otherwise. He will call the truth a lie and vice versa.

I also don’t think that Trump would ever voluntarily leave office as Nixon did, even if he felt impeachment was imminent. I’m not even sure that he would willingly leave if he were impeached and the Senate moved to convict, a scenario that is hard to imagine at this point.

I don’t think any of this gets better, even as the evidence becomes clearer. I don’t believe that Trump’s supporters would reverse course in the same way that Nixon’s did. I don’t believe that the facts Mueller presents will be considered unassailable. I don’t believe Trump will go down without bringing the country down with him.

In short, I don’t believe we are reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather we are entering one. This will not get easier, but harder.

The country is about to enter the crucible. This test of our republic is without a true comparison. And we do not have a clear picture of how the test will resolve. But, I believe damage is certain.

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