The Trump Republican Party has outdone itself in scoring merit badges for cowardice, betrayal, and corruption in the era of Trump, but the last two weeks have set a new standard for mendacity and outright treason so low it verges on chthonic.
The men and women (looking at you, Stefanik and Haley) of the GOP have almost entirely abandoned any philosophical or ideological predicate beyond how fast they can assume the position to kiss Trump’s ample ass and cover for his ever-growing catalog of crimes and lies to the American people.
There’s plenty of blame to go around.
First, of course, is the cancerous core of Donald Trump’s defense network, Attorney General Bill Barr. I’ve written—almost ad nauseam at this point—about Barr’s skill, power and utter loathsomeness, but he’s about to pull another one of his defenses of Trump, and this one is big.
Barr is signaling, loud and clear, that he has decided to blow up the work of his own Department of Justice’s inspector general. Because of course he is.
If I still had the power to be shocked by corruption and the total subornation of the Department of Justice to serve Trump’s personal and political ends, perhaps I could at least fake a sense of surprise. But the clear signals coming from Barr and his fellow Trumpboy Lindsey Graham tell us the real Horowitz Report out next week—which will reportedly almost entirely exonerate the FBI for its conduct during the 2016 election and thus destroy a number of comic-opera Trump conspiracy greatest hits, and generally deflatesthe Fox News Deep State horror-show playlist—just won’t do.
Just as he did with his pre-release alteration of the Mueller Report, Barr is going to recast the Horowitz Report the only way he knows how: in Trump’s favor. Perfectly legal and cool. Barr knows his client, and his client is deeply invested in his Deep State persecution fantasies, along with the Trump base and the boys over at Fox State Television.
Barr is without question the most corrupt and political attorney general in the history of the United States of America. He is, in direct view of the public and press, manipulating the outcomes of an investigation to achieve a political outcome for this president. His almost unbelievable degree of contempt, recklessness, and disregard for the rule of law is the apotheosis of this lawless administration.
Trump and his Republican allies have become more than a little accustomed to having their pet attorney general deliver political results in line with their only political and philosophical goal: the political protection of Trump. Only Washington reporters will treat this seriously, and they’ll report this as if this isn’t a corrupt attorney general serving a corrupt president with a fictional retelling of an investigation that failed to stop Vladimir Putin’s best boy from taking the Oval Office.
In another era, there would be Republicans who would be shocked that a sworn officer of the government, particularly an attorney general, would engage in such lawless, reckless behavior in defense of a lawless, reckless P-president.
Even if the House, particularly after the electoral wipeout of 2018, is a lost cause, a caucus of clowns, coked-up frat boys, blowhards, and criminal co-conspirators, some of us, vainly, held out a shred of hope that the U.S. Senate would put some check—any check—on Trump’s corruption.
Not this party, not this time, and perhaps never again.
Republicans now are terrified to utter even truth-adjacent statements about the simplest and least disputable facts.
Russia, not Ukraine, hacked our 2016 election. Try to find any member of the Senate who will say that on camera beyond Mitt Romney. They won’t. The new champion of this raging strain of dumbfuckery is Sen. John Kennedy of the great state of Louisiana, who for the last 10 digging-the-hole-deeper days has gamely shoveled out the lie that Ukraine was the culprit in 2016. When Louisiana sent Kennedy to Washington, it wasn’t sending its best. It was sending a babbling, tendentious clown—one who puts the idiot in useful idiot.
What of the shining lights of the old tea party days? The smart, promising young conservatives who were definitely, absolutely, positively going to be the vanguard of the new, smart, approachable Republican brand for the 21st century? You know, Ted and Marco and Mike and Josh and Cory and the rest. There was a time when the most dangerous place in D.C. was between Ted Cruz and a TV camera. Now? Sen. “Sorrygottameeting” sprints past the cameras.
They’re suddenly really uninterested in reading. Donald Who? What impeachment?
We’ll leave aside the regional dinner theater histrionics of Lindsey Graham, who’s proven himself in the role of royal turd polisher in the last year and is putting in maximum effort to try to turn this chickenshit into chicken salad: “Hunter Biiiiden, ah declare.”
These stalwarts of constitutional rigor who railed against Barack Obama’s alleged abuse of executive powers and who lost their minds over Eric Holder are suddenly strangely silent in the wake of wrongdoing by the chief executive so obvious the meanest intellect could understand it. Even John Kennedy.
And even Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, until now a serious, sober-minded man who led the Senate Intelligence Committee with bipartisan clarity and distinction, Tuesday took up the both-sidesism of “Well, Ukraine did it too” when he knows perfectly well that they did not.
Two terrible explanations obtain, and only two. The first is that members of the United States Senate live in such mortal terror of Trump’s horde, his tweets, his uncontrolled fury that they will do and say anything to avoid having his baleful eye rest upon them.
This speaks so poorly of their character and courage that even in this fallen time, it stands as a memorial to cowardice. The cheerleaders will receive the rich, full fucking of history. That goes without saying.
The cowards, the silent, the heads-down, see-no-evil members? None of these men and women deserve the mantle of leadership and the trust with which the voters honored them if they’re too afraid of a bloated 73-year-old man whose sole superpower is a large social media following.
The impeachment decision in the Senate is foregone because the Republicans there have joined the Trump suicide cult. They lack the honor to stand for the truth. They lack the will to resist the threats of Trump’s mob.
The other explanation is darker: They’re adapting to the new demands of a post-Republic Republican Party, readying themselves for decades of Imperial Trumps in command of a furious cohort of populist morons fed a steady diet of Fox agitporn.
The corrosion of trust will cost America dearly one day when we face an external force or power or event that will require Americans to have faith in their leaders and leadership.
After this total abdication of Republicans’ responsibilities—to the oath they swore, to the voters they claim to represent, and even to their own political survival—it’s hard to see how they emerge on the other side of this drama as more than grim or ludicrous footnotes to history.
Someday, they’ll expect the American people to trust their leadership, assertions, and warnings. Someday, they’ll ask for confidence in their judgment. They’ll say, “But I had to, or he’d tweet about me.” See how well that plays in the post-Trump era.
I’d advise any senator who can’t stand up, own the reality that’s in front of them, and, most importantly, tell their constituents and the American people the facts about the risks and dangers we face in this world, to quit now.
Leave the Senate. Leave politics. After all this quality customer service, I’m sure the Trump family can find them a job at his golf courses or hotels, perhaps as a caddy or a concierge.
They’re good at that.