For quite some time I have been saying that the real story of the 2016 election of Donald Trump is not Trump but those who voted for him and (here I add) their representatives in DC. See my November 2017 post, More on the psychology of Trump voters - why nothing shakes their faith. Even earlier, before the election in August 2016, I posted Donald Trump’s next con: Dumping Democracy. There I concluded:
Trump’s lies gain credence partly because of the conference of referential validity - they get repeated constantly in the media and thereby become more firmly believed by Trump’s supporters. The minds of those supporters have been prepared by decades of conservative propaganda created and promoted by the leadership of the Republican party. Trump is a symptom or symbol of that stream of unconsciousness. The real story I continue to claim is not Trump but what he represents - a large proportion of the electorate which is prepared to believe his lies and who seem immune to rational thought. They will still be here after Trump, hopefully, is dumped. They will still vote for the Republican candidates who deliver them nothing but robbery to pay for tax cuts for the rich.
Nevertheless, even some of Trump’s detractors miss that crucial point. Instead, they treat Trump as a cause rather than, probably, an effect of a more fundamental rot afflicting conservative politics. For example, George Conway (husband of Trump counselor and mouthpiece KellyAnne Conway) wrote that Trump is a cancer on the presidency. Congress should remove him. Is Trump a bad guy? Sure. Should Congress remove him? Maybe. (There are valid arguments on both sides of that one. For example, see my post on how The founding fathers designed impeachment for a man without virtue.)
But in order to really understand what went wrong in 2016 we need to examine what’s missing in Conway’s op-ed, namely Trump’s slavish supporters and the GOPlins in DC.
Here is a fact. The Mueller report concluded that Obstruction of justice conclusion - maybe no crime, but certainly no exoneration. Quoting from Volume 2, page 182:
Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgement, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgement. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. (Emphasis added.)
Given Trump’s narcissism and his habitual, pathological lying, we should not be surprised that Trump claimed “total exoneration” even in the face of the Mueller conclusion above. (See, for example, CNN’s report From ‘total exoneration’ to ‘total bullsh**’: Trump lingers on damning report.) But what about those in Congress who are supporting Trump and his lies?
The AZ Blue Meanie has a longish post that squares with my view that Trump is not the rot but rather a symbol and symptom of it: Donald Trump is but a manifestation of the cancer within the GOP. In it, BlueMeanie exposes our Arizona politicians in the House and Senate for their support for Trump’s “total exoneration” lie citing an AZCentral report, Arizona politicians react to Mueller report. Edited excerpts follow.
As usual, Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. took a middle ground. She “praised Attorney General Bill Barr in a tweet and said it is clear that Russia had worked to interfere with the election. With the release of the redacted report, McSally wrote it was time for the country to move on.”
From Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz: “Today, we once again can confirm that there is STILL no obstruction and STILL no collusion.”
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., wrote: “No collusion. No charges for obstruction."
Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said “Despite Democrats’ repeated attempts to claim otherwise, the report confirms there was no collusion or obstruction by President Trump or members of his campaign.”
AZBlueMeanie sums it up nicely adding historical context.
None of these craven cowards will do what Republican Senator Barry Goldwater did during Watergate:
Sen. Barry Goldwater, Ariz., the 1964 GOP presidential nominee, was a respected conservative leader in a Senate whose Republican ranks were less conservative than now. On Aug. 6, 1974, at the regular Senate Republican Conference lunch, Goldwater fumed: “There are only so many lies you can take, and now there has been one too many. Nixon should get his ass out of the White House — today!”
Goldwater called William Timmons, a White House aide, to set up a meeting. He told Timmons he wanted to tell the president that many GOP senators wanted him to resign. [He would tell Nixon what he thought – that he himself would now vote for conviction.]
Nixon agreed to see Goldwater on the following day. But he insisted that the top GOP congressional leaders accompany him. So Goldwater arrived with Sen. Hugh Scott, Pa., the minority leader, while Scott’s House counterpart, Rep. John Rhodes, Ariz., came separately.
“There’s not more than 15 senators for you,” Goldwater said. Nixon asked the pipe-smoking Scott for his views. “I think 12 to 15,” said Scott, who had once had defended Nixon on the basis of a doctored Watergate transcript that had been shown to him privately.
In a May 1973 interview with Time magazine’s Hays Gorey, Goldwater said, “If it can be proved that he lied, resignation would have to be considered. It would be quick. Everything would be over, ended. It wouldn’t drag out like impeachment.”
Where is this Republican Party today? As Steve Schmidt counsels, “[T]he party of Trump must be obliterated. Annihilated. Destroyed. And all of the collaborators, the complicit enablers, the school of cowards, need to go down” if the great American experiment in democracy is to survive.