}

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Nothing we didn’t know – but something’s missing

The news today was crammed full with reactions to the anonymous Op-Ed in the New York Times. The column, written by a “senior official” in the regime of the current occupant of the White House reinforced things we’ve already been told by others, but something more than a byline is missing.

The territory covered by the piece was also covered in books, such as Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury and the soon-to-be-published Fear by Bob Woodward (Full disclosure: Both links are to Amazon and include my Amazon Associates number). Many news articles have also reported many of the same details. So, despite the current occupant’s “volcanic anger” about the Op-Ed piece, there’s not really anything new in it.

There’s one important thing missing, however: Courage. Whoever wrote it will ultimately be revealed and fired by the current occupant, unless it was Vice President Mike Pence, who can’t be fired. He has reasons for not being public—it would look like he was plotting an actual coup, for one thing. But wouldn’t it be cowardly to let suspicion fall on others, endangering their jobs? Would he come clean if someone else is fired for what he did? (Of course not).

There are also issues with the punditocracy’s other favourite suspect, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats. He has absolutely nothing to lose: At his age, he has no more elective offices in his future. He can afford to burn his bridges. But if he was really the author, and the current occupant’s disrespecting John McCain was part of his motivation, then wouldn’t publishing anonymously also disrespect McCain’s legacy?

Maybe it was neither of those two, but someone else entirely. How would they not similarly be a coward rather than principled? Whoever the author is, he or she could have resigned in a blaze of protest that would have dominated the news, too.

On the other hand, maybe this was brilliant strategy. By remaining anonymous until unmasked, the author can keep the piece in the news cycle for longer than would have happened in the “resign in protest” scenario. Personally, I hope that’s what it is, not actual cowardice. We’ll know sooner or later.

But all of that is beside the point, really, because something else is also missing: A conscience. This regime has done some horrible, shameful things, but the author praises the regime for cutting the taxes of corporations and the ultra rich, something that won’t benefit even most the non-millionaires who voted for the current occupant. The author also lists “effective deregulation”—seriously? The stuff that will put lives at risk through increased pollution and looser work safety rules (among so many other horrible things)? A “more robust military”? Spending more money isn’t the definition of “robust”, and banning transgendered servicemembers doesn’t make the military “more robust”. Also, what are the “other things”? That white supremacists in Charlottesville had “many fine people” among them? That children of asylum seekers and refugees were illegally ripped from the parents’ arms? The regime’s Muslim Ban?

But at least the author recognises that the current occupant branding the free press as “the enemy of the people” is inexcusable, as are all of his other anti-democratic attitudes. Also singled out, rightly, is the currant occupant’s “preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.”

The current occupant is tearing the USA apart, and destroying the country’s standing in the world—along with the alliance that’s defeated fascism and kept world peace for three-quarters of a century. He is dangerous and unhinged. The Centre and Left are doing what they can to stop the regime and its agenda, but so far all the Republican Party is doing is a—at the VERY most—uttering a near silent “tsk, tsk, tsk”.

Plenty of conservatives have abandoned the Republican Party to call out the regime and to talk about how the current occupant of the White House is unfit for office. The problem is that politicians living in the party now, or within the regime, are publicly missing. Until that changes, the battle to get rid of the current occupant will continue to be very, very difficult—unless Democrats win in a landslide in November, maybe.

But in any case, and no matter what happens in November, this is the time for Republicans who have a moral centre to stand up and call out the man in the White House who has none.

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