If Nixon Were Alive Today

Nixon smoking

My attention has been called to this opinion piece in the Guardian: Richard Wolffe, It’s painfully clear: today’s Congress wouldn’t have impeached Nixon.

First of all, let me say that I agree with Mr. Wolffe’s conclusion: if Nixon were president, and if the House passed articles of impeachment, the Senate would not vote to remove him from office. Now for some context.

Moral Decline over Time: the Tobacco Industry Example

In the early 1950’s, the main health threat posed by cigarettes was thought to be throat irritation. When epidemiologists showed a very strong statistical linkage between smoking and lung cancer, some of the top executives in the tobacco industry were heard to say, in words or substance, “Holy cow, if this is true, we will just have to go out of business.” Several years later, though, the big tobacco companies joined in a conspiracy, coordinated by their advertising agency, to discredit the science, so that they could keep on addicting young people, to replace their more mature customers, whom they were willfully killing with their deadly product.

People of ordinary morality were pushed out, to be replaced by a cabal of moral monsters.

Why? Because of a mortal threat to their business.

My father smoked Lucky Strikes, and later Winstons, because they tasted good, like a cigarette should. I well remember him sitting at the dining table speaking the word “statistics” with the same angry disdain he would have referred to “pederasty,” if he had known what “pederasty” meant.

He died, of course. You might say he died of gullibility.

The 1960’s: The Party of Money Invites an Alliance with the Party of Racial Reaction

With the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960’s, some in the Republican Party saw an opportunistic opening: encourage the Southern herrenvolk democrats to exit the Democratic Party and join the Republicans. By the time Nixon resigned in 1973, the alliance of Big Money and Big Racial Resentment was under way, but it still had a long way to go. That’s why some people of moral conviction and courage could still find a place in Republican politics.

An Unholy Alliance, of Which Each Party Faces a Mortal Threat

Fast forward to the second decade of the 21stcentury. The two parties to the unholy alliance that is the Republican Party—the Party of Big Money and the Party of Big Racial Resentment—each have a big problem.

Paradoxically, the grave threat to the Party of Big Money is the natural consequence of its great success in vastly increasing economic inequality in the United States. The situation is unstable in the short run, and untenable in the long run. Like the situation faced by big tobacco.

And what about the other party to the coalition—I’ll call them My Peeps? My Peeps made two grave mistakes in the nineteenth century. They embraced slavery, rebellion, and massive racism. In the 20th century, they couldn’t unembrace it. And it’s with them today.

And a great many of them made another serious error of an intellectual or ideological nature. They let themselves be persuaded that evolution was wrong, and that, by extension, science was not a reliable way of understanding nature. And they let themselves be talked into a literal interpretation of scripture. The Book of Jonah, for example, is an inventive, fanciful tale, made up to illustrate a great moral truth. My Peeps, though, learned to ignore the moral truth and take a work of fiction as historical fact. They confused the moon with the finger that points at the moon.

Thinking like that equips you very badly for life in the 21st century.

Now, racism and know-nothingism are under mortal threat, just as obscene economic inequality is under threat.

The Only Hope: a Joint Dictatorship over the Normal

The Party of Big Money and the Party of Big Racism have decided that the only way to overcome the threats they face is to jointly exercise dictatorship over all the normal people in this country.

I believe they have correctly assessed the situation.

When the Bough Breaks the Cradle Will Fall

This evening Jonathan Bernstein, a columnist at Bloomberg Opinion, discusses how Trump Is Losing His Influence. To sum up,

I’m not predicting anything. Just noting some obvious facts. The incentives for supporting Trump that have held since his election have suddenly become a lot weaker. In mid-July of 1974, President Richard Nixon could still count on virtually every conservative Republican in Congress to oppose his impeachment and removal, even if they weren’t exactly thrilled with him. By early August, he had only a handful of supporters remaining. That’s not to say that Trump’s support will necessarily evaporate — just that if it does, it could happen extremely quickly, perhaps in days. And nice, reliable, normal Mike Pence will be sitting right there.

Sounds about right to me. I have gone out on a limb several times to predict that Mike Pence will be our 46th President—after lots Republican politicians come begging senators of both parties to get on board with impeachment.

In the meantime, things are getting hotter and hotter for Orange Man. The craven time-servers among the empty-suited Republican professional politicians will cravenly serve time and wait for the denoument of the Mueller investigation. As the days go on, it will become ever more evident that, while they aren’t denouncing Orange Man, they aren’t affirmatively supporting him either. Ditto for the Acting Attorney General. Ditto for the Federalist Society judges. It will dawn on the Orange Man that his peeps are no longer his peeps. He will freak out. Faux News will freak out. And, one fine day, just like in August, 1974, the wind will blow him out of the tree.

How Did the Baby Get in the Tree in the First Place? And Does it Matter How He Got in the Tree?

The old nursery rhyme is surreal and disturbing, and it poses a lot of questions. Why did someone hang the cradle from a weak limb at the top of the tree, and then leave it there on a windy day? That seems like a rally bad idea, doesn’t it?

Kind of like the question, why did all those empty suits accept the Orange Sociopath in the first place?

But at a certain point, questions like that become moot. There is is, up in the tree, rocking from side to side, ever higher, as the wind’s velocity increases.

There he is. And the laws of physics determine his fate.

Tokyo Rose with a Smart Phone

The nursery rhyme also invites, but does not answer, the question, what happened to the baby? Probably nothing good.

In the case of Orange Man, I think Air Force One is going to whisk him off to his new dacha on the Black Sea, where, like Tokyo Rose with a smart phone, he will spend the remainder of his days tweeting out Russian propaganda.

Washington, Nixon, and Trump

cherry tree

So, here is a follow up on the immediately preceding post, that shared some observations by Trump’s ghostwriter. And a thought for the evening.

I believe I heard this from David Brooks on last night’s PBS Evening News:

Washington: the President who could not tell a lie.

Nixon: the President who could not tell the truth.

Trump: the President who cannot tell the difference.

You know, it must really suck to be Trump. Think about it. Without empathy. Without self-confidence and a strong ego, only empty bluster. Without a conscience. Without the ability to distinguish between truth and delusion. Without the ability even to tell a consistent lie. Without the attention span to learn the things he needs to know for his job. Without the ability to predict the consequences of his actions.

Disabilities far worse than the loss of your eyesight, the loss of your legs, the loss of your balls. Utterly incapacitating.

I feel sorry for the man.

What I feel for the empty suited, traitorous cretins who enabled him to achieve his present position, when they knew or should have known of his mental disabilities, is nothing but utter contempt and cold, unforgiving hatred.