The Republican Party Has Bowed, Completely, to the Mad King
They’re now running interference in the Russia probe and kissing the Trumpian ring.
By Charles P. Pierce December 21, 2017
After Wednesday’s extended carnival of sycophancy, in which the leaders of the institutions of American government did everything except toss a virgin into a volcano in tribute to the president*, it seems almost too obvious a thing to point out that the Republican Party has handed itself over to this president* as his personal chew-toy. They have figured out that flattering this walking ego is the way for them to get what they want, and he can’t live outside a constant bubble of counterfeit affection. It’s a marriage made several levels lower than heaven.
But there’s more to it than the revolting spectacle to which we were treated after the Loot the Joint Act of 2017 was passed. Over the past week, there has been a staggering welter of reporting about back-channels, hidden agendas, and covert shenanigans that makes the opaque creation of the tax bill look like a town meeting in Vermont. The phrase, “a small group of influential Republicans” has come to mean something very dark and crooked.
The inevitable assault on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is hardly a secret anymore. It’s the second stage of Paul Ryan’s grand plan, and everybody knows it. But there is a general effort now to prop up the administration*, especially as Robert Mueller and his hounds get to baying more audibly outside the wrought-iron fence. On Thursday morning, for example, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who previously recused himself from “all aspects” of the investigation into the Russian ratfcking of the 2016 presidential election, apparently has decided that the Uranium One “controversy” is not one of those aspects. From NBC News:
“A senior law enforcement official who was briefed on the initial FBI investigation told NBC News there were allegations of corruption surrounding the process under which the U.S. government approved the sale. But no charges were filed. As the New York Times reported in April 2015, some of the people associated with the deal contributed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. And Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 for a Moscow speech by a Russian investment bank with links to the transaction. Hillary Clinton has denied playing any role in the decision by the State Department to approve the sale, and the State Department official who approved it has said Clinton did not intervene in the matter. That hasn’t stopped some Republicans, including President Trump, from calling the arrangement corrupt — and urging that Clinton be investigated”
(Here I would like once again to congratulate The New York Times for getting into bed with Bannonite apparatchik Peter Schweitzer, whose book-like product, Clinton Cash, jump-started all of this nonsense.)
At the same time, according to Politico, Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and midnight White House creeper, has been running a parallel “investigation” apparently aimed at pre-emptively discrediting whatever it is that Mueller finds:
“The people familiar with Nunes’ plans said the goal is to highlight what some committee Republicans see as corruption and conspiracy in the upper ranks of federal law enforcement. The group hopes to release a report early next year detailing their concerns about the DOJ and FBI, and they might seek congressional votes to declassify elements of their evidence. That final product could ultimately be used by Republicans to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether any Trump aides colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign — or possibly even to justify his dismissal, as some rank-and-file Republicans and Trump allies have demanded. (The president has said he is not currently considering firing Mueller.) Republicans in the Nunes-led group suspect the FBI and DOJ have worked either to hurt Trump or aid his former campaign rival Hillary Clinton, a sense that has pervaded parts of the president’s inner circle. Trump has long called the investigations into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 election a “witch hunt,” and on Tuesday, his son Donald Trump Jr. told a crowd in Florida the probes were part of a “rigged system” by “people at the highest levels of government” who were working to hurt the president.”
There is an undercurrent of shared fantasy now driving a Republican Party that controls all the institutions of the government and can do pretty much anything it wants, as long as it doesn’t get in its own way, for which it also has something of a gift. It is armored in unreality, which protects it from all the checks and balances to which this system of government is heir. Clinton sold all our uranium to Russia. The FBI conspired with the Clinton campaign against the Trump campaign. And all this unreality is being weaponized now to one purpose: to protect the presidency* of Donald Trump.
(Count me as someone who doesn’t believe that the president* will fire Mueller. Absent an uncontrollable fit of Trumpian pique, even I don’t think the president* is that stupid. I think the campaign to delegitimize Mueller and his investigation will go on as long as the investigation does. It will be said to be a waste of time and money. Smokescreens and squid ink will fly thick and fast until most of the country loses the plot entirely. The Russian ratfcking will be yet another something on which Experts Disagree. This was the game-plan the Reagan people used against Lawrence Walsh in Iran-Contra and, by and large, it worked. Of course, it all depends on sane people being able to keep this president* from having a nutty.)
I am sure that, among conservative intellectuals, there are some people sincerely and seriously opposed to the current president*. But among conservative Republican politicians of any influence, there are none. Bob Corker pretty much called the president* a lunatic, and now he’s profiting handsomely from being a performing seal like all the rest of them. Lindsey Graham is conceding putts at Bedminster and dreaming of being Secretary of State. Orrin Hatch may well be seen within the month, climbing up Mount Rushmore with a chisel between his teeth, ready to get to work. The Department of Justice is now acting as an adjunct to a Breitbart comment section.
And the members of the responsible committee of the House are acting at cross-purposes with each other, with some members meeting secretly to undermine their own investigation. (The Senate committee seems marginally more reasonable, for now, anyway. At the very least, they found someone to put gunpowder in Mark Warner’s oatmeal.) There is no such thing as #NeverTrump among Republicans anymore, and, because of that, the essential destructive corruption that is the very nature of this presidency* now has spread so widely that rooting it out completely may well be impossible. There is the shadow of ruin hanging over everything.