11 May 2017

Comeygate -- reactions

It's less than two days since the administration's latest and (so far) messiest power-shart hit the fan, and thus a little early to assess its impact.  Nevertheless, positions are being staked out.

Almost everyone except the most blindly partisan wingnuts seems to agree that the stated reason for firing Comey -- that he had mishandled the investigation of Hillary -- is implausible.  Given reports that Trump had been in a state of rage and panic about the several investigations into his (alleged) ties with Russia, the obvious inference is that the firing was meant to derail the FBI investigation, perhaps by replacing Comey with a yes-man who would shut it down.

If that's the case, we're in dangerous waters indeed.  Bill Moyers says, "Trump’s presidency is deeply corrupted, our democracy is compromised, and the system of checks and balances is failing us. He’s attempting a coup. No joke."  Only a special prosecutor and/or a truly independent bipartisan commission, he declares, can quash this threat.  Brian Beutler takes a similar view, seeing a real threat of a "slide into authoritarianism".  Some Europeans worry that US democracy is not as invulnerable as Americans think.

With the stakes that high, what can be done?  Jeet Heer argues that Democrats must save democracy by weaponizing the outrage over the Comey firing against Republicans in general.  Greg Sargent suggests some specific actions that Democrats (and Republicans also claiming to be concerned) can take, one of which -- blocking normal Senate business until the matter is properly addressed -- they are already doing.

Out of curiosity I took a look around the right-wing internet to see how they're spinning this.  RedState, which opposed Trump during the primaries, is taking a cautious line.  NRO criticizes the firing (more on the grounds of optics than substance), but downplays its importance.  Breitbart complains about hostile media but mostly avoids the issue.  PowerLine has a barrage of posts but they, too, are mostly complaints about the media and the left making too much of a fuss.  I looked at a few right-wing blogs too; those that even mention Comeygate range from concerned to confusing to frankly paranoidRational Nation gets it, but I'm not sure whether he even still self-identifies as conservative at this point.

Most Republican politicians, of course, are still rallying around Trump.  But Josh Marshall at TPM thinks that unity is weakening; many are lukewarm, and a few, such as McCain and Chaffetz, are already breaking ranks.  That leads me to the question of what we, the general public, can best do about this.

With Republicans holding majorities in both House and Senate, little can be done against Trump without at least some Republicans going along.  But as I've observed before, the behavior of Republican politicians ever since Trump emerged as a serious contender for their nomination suggests that they are basically cowards, afraid to stand up to any force they see as powerful enough to endanger their position.  Since Trump took office, mass pressure -- in the form of huge protests, deluges of phone calls, angry protests at town halls, etc. -- has intimidated some Republicans in Congress into backing down on issue after issue.  What we have to do now is keep up that pressure.  They are trying to sweep Comeygate under the rug with bland business-as-usual rhetoric.  We have to make it clear that that won't fly, by showing that people in their districts (or states, in the case of Senators) are aware and angry.  They fear Trump and his hard-core supporters, but they fear losing re-election as well.

And as always, we must be vigilant against cynicism and defeatism, which always militate against action and turn actual defeat into a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Yes, Comeygate is a frightening assault on our system of checks and balances and on democracy itself.  But as Dana Milbank points out, our country's institutions have proven resilient against Trump's attacks so far.  If public pressure adds to that resilience and beats back the threat, the fact that so many Republicans rallied around Trump on this will join the ACA repeal effort among our most devastating weapons against them in 2018 and 2020.


Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

And as always, we must be vigilant against cynicism and defeatism, which always militate against action and turn actual defeat into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Agreed 100%. Al Giordano--organizer and journalist--has spoken out against this several times on his Twitter feed. It doesn't help us to just roll over! That's what they were expecting people to do when Trump won, and yet people have not. That was a good sign.

In regards to Comey's firing, yes, I am angry. Yes, the "it was because of Hillary's emails!" excuse is absolute horseshit. And the lie that the WH peddled--that FBI agents were disgusted with Comey--fell apart rather quickly.

(Disclaimer--I have a family member who is in the FBI, and through them I have met other agents. None of them spoke badly of Comey--they all had nothing but respect for the man)

That Trump was so clumsy in his attempt to stop the investigation into his connections to Russia--and that he has been clumsy time and time again--is so plainly obvious. And yet, as you pointed out, the GOP with a few exceptions have been utter cowards. Contrary to what the idiot alt-Left have been braying, it has been Democrats who have stepped forward as the party that actually gives a damn and wants to do something in order to hold this rotten bunch accountable.

But hey, both parties are the same and Hillary was worse....I wonder if the people who spewed this out last year are willing to take it back--or if they even care.

12 May, 2017 10:37  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Trump seems to have really riled up the FBI, something he may yet regret doing. That's the problem with his approach of shitting all over everybody -- disrespecting the CIA at their Wall of Stars, viciously insulting legislators like Cruz and Rubio, backstabbing allies as soon as he doesn't need them or is dissatisfied with them. If and when his ability to intimidate people wanes, he's going to need allies, and those allies won't be there, because the people he could have cultivated as allies will remember how he treated them.

We're actually lucky Trump is so stupid and narcissistic and keeps making easily-avoidable mistakes. A smarter person with the same authoritarian tendencies would be a tremendous danger.

13 May, 2017 07:56  
Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

@Infidel: We're actually lucky Trump is so stupid and narcissistic and keeps making easily-avoidable mistakes. A smarter person with the same authoritarian tendencies would be a tremendous danger.

Agreed. Someone pointed out that unlike Nixon, Trump is committing his crimes right out in the open. If he had had actual experience in politics (a la Nixon or say Putin) there would have been a lot more to fear from him.

P.S.--Thought you might find this interesting, since it relates to GHOST IN THE SHELL:


13 May, 2017 08:39  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

More than a few historians see Trump's behavior as a direct threat to our democracy. That so many Republicans are still unwilling to see Trump for the tyrant and danger to our democracy that he is, is depressing. I will never forgive those Goopers for their cowardice and unwillingness to act for the good of America instead of for the good of a political party.

13 May, 2017 17:33  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Marc: If that mind-expanding technology really did become real, it might be able to raise Trump to the mental level of a potted plant.

Shaw: Judging by what they're getting at town halls, a lot of people are angry. Maybe it will eventually sink in.

14 May, 2017 03:58  

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