In another time (maybe, one fears, only an imagined one), this latest clot of foul corruption to come spewing out of the Trump sewer pipe would certainly have spelled the end, supposing it’s true. And oh, this one is foul – it smelleth rank to the very gates of Heaven.
Just while we’re waiting to find out whether Donald is going to start a new war in the Persian Gulf, we’re side-swiped by the latest from The Swamp, this time a story about a governmental whistleblower trying to get a message to Congress. Whistleblowers are supposed to be a big deal. There’s a whole legal regime that’s been built around whistleblowers, meant to protect them and ensure that they can report executive malfeasance to the proper oversight bodies of Congress without fear of retribution. Of course none of that means anything anymore, and all we really know so far is that the acting Director of National Intelligence, responding improperly to instructions that should never have been sought from Bill Barr’s Justice Department, is refusing to obey the law and suppressing the whistleblower’s report. So that’s bad on its own, but it gets worse.
The report itself, you see, appears to be unusually awful in its implications. It was first vetted by the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, who judged it credible, and of urgent national importance. Urgent. This we know, and that’s all we really know for sure. This being Trumpistan, it comes as no surprise that despite being called to testify before House Intelligence, the IGIC isn’t talking, and isn’t going to release the report. What can he do? He’s just following orders, whether that’s right or not, so as ever, we’re being stonewalled. All we have are reports in the Press, with their origin in leaks from the always unnamed “officials close to the matter”, to fill us in, but – but – those leaks have credence, based on the track record, and what with Trump’s White House being the most accurately leak-plagued in history.
So here’s the story, if we can believe it: the whistleblower is trying to tell Congress that Trump is putting the screws to the government of Ukraine, withholding badly needed military aid already appropriated and allocated by Congress until the Ukrainians promise to supply dirt on Joe Biden to help Trump’s re-election campaign. I won’t bother going into just what that dirt could be; it’s something about Biden’s kid and his supposed shady dealings in Ukraine, and it’s mostly bullshit, a lot of sizzle and maybe a wee bit of steak, and not worth talking about. What matters is that Donald wants campaign oppo. research dirt from a foreign government, and is willing to blackmail them with the power of his office – America’s power, and the people’s property – to get what he wants. Or so the reported leaks allege.
Now, you might think to yourself that what’s crucial here is whether this is true and can be proved if, somehow, the whistleblower report can be pried from the clutches of the Trump Administration. That would be sensible, at least by what’s now outmoded logic, based on what are now obsolete underlying premises. Let us, though, discard the quaint notions of a bygone era, and pose the real questions:
So what if it is true? So what if it is proved?
I’m not saying, let’s be clear, that there’s no objective reason to be sent reeling by this latest revelation. There’s every reason. First, Trump and his minions are flouting yet another law. That alone is horrifying. Yes it is. But so what? He does that all the time, ignoring Congressional subpoenas, and telling his officials to refuse to comply with other statutes, like the one that requires the IRS to hand over his tax filings to House Oversight. There’s no consequence. Who’s going to do anything about it? The House? Them and what Army? The Courts? When, by 2034, when the stacked USSC can rule in favour of the tyrant? We might never even get to the part when we see what happens when the report comes to light, and Donald’s malfeasance is proved for all with eyes to see.
Let’s skip that obstacle, though, just for the sake of argument, and assume that yes, it gets to Congress before Trump has passed on, it’s true, it can be proved, and nobody but the idiots on Fox and the worst slavering morons in the Base – and of course the entirety of the GOP Senate Caucus – can deny it. Now what? Do you suppose anybody’ll care? Do you suppose anybody’ll do anything? I bet Pelosi still won’t want to impeach, and what if she does? Donald still skates, courtesy of McConnell. Forget Congress. It’s over with Congress.
So then it comes down to the 2020 election. Will this new scandal tip the scales? Will Trump’s (hopefully) flagging fortunes finally, on this account, reach the nadir that all common sense and ordinary decency would demand and expect? You think? Why? As near as I can tell, nothing, nothing at all, is going to cause Trump’s base to waver, so it all depends on the supposed “swing voters”, and while there are reasons why the great mushy middle might turn on Trump in 2020, I doubt another episode of campaign corruption is one of them, heinous as this one would be. If there’s a recession, then yeah, maybe that works. People really do care about whether they can pay the bills and carry that big mortgage on that oversized house, and they’re still inclined to believe that the economy’s health is something the President determines (and with Trump and his ruinous trade wars, this might be closer to true than usual). But Trump being a lawless jar of pond scum who abuses the power of his office in attempts to rig elections with foreign help? Since when did that matter to anybody?
The American public seems to have reached such a level of decadent, abject nihilism, that one wonders if anything that Trump does wrong can ever make the smallest bit of difference. His whole campaign, beginning in 2015, with its racism, bullying, stupidity, and gaffes like attacking John McCain and insulting the parents of America’s war dead, culminating in the Access Hollywood Pussygate fiasco, was profoundly, astonishingly wrong. Didn’t matter. Nobody gave a shit. Nobody gave a shit that Putin pretty much put Donald in office, and Donald knew about it and knowingly benefitted from it – the dummies either don’t believe it, or, more probably, don’t get why it was wrong. Nobody cares about the endless corruption of his swampy cabinet, the graft, the misuse of public funds – do you really think anybody is tearing their hair out about the massive ongoing violation of the Emoluments Clause? What the fuck is an “emolument”? Is that a hand lotion or something? It kind of sounds like it would have lanolin in it, right? Anyway, why shouldn’t half the air force bunk over there at Turnberry when they need somewhere to crash? Why shouldn’t Trump be selling $200,000 memberships to Mar-a-Lago? Why shouldn’t he be charging the Secret Service hundreds of thousands a quarter for rooms and golf cart rentals? Why shouldn’t the next G-7 be held at Doral? What’s a conflict of interest – what conflict?
Look, if I was to list every instance of impeachable corruption and malfeasance – not instances of stupidity and incompetence, not all the times he’s been an openly racist turd, or unpresidential, or a craven bully, or in the pocket of his paymasters at the NRA, or in the thrall of foreign dictators, leaving aside all his rhetoric about the free press being enemies of the people and all that other shit – and just focus on things which, constitutionally and legally, ought to get him impeached, I could write 100,000 words. Kids in cages. Bogus national emergencies. Obstructions of Justice. Self-dealing. It’d take me weeks. Then I could add another 100,000 detailing the many public occurrences that suggest Donald should be removed under the 25th Amendment, before he does himself an injury. It doesn’t matter. Do you suppose that Mitch would be sitting there grinning like a Jack-o’-Lantern all day if there was any risk that enough people cared about this stuff to matter?
Now I’m supposed to get all excited about this whistleblower business? I’m not biting this time. Lucy can take her football and go fuck herself. Congress is useless, the Courts are useless, the electorate is useless, and if Trump loses next time it won’t be for any good reason at all, unless pure economics is a good reason. They don’t know enough to even begin to understand what Trump has destroyed, perhaps irreparably. They don’t give a flying fuck. I don’t believe for a second that the gen. pop. is going to get all worked up into a lather about Donald putting the boots to a bunch of Eastern Europeans. Did they care about Bush and Cheney lying their way into disaster in Iraq? Do they even understand they were lied to? Did they care about Iran-Contra? I’m not falling for it. I’m done falling for it.
All right, OK, I’m still hoping against hope. OK, you got me.