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In the category of: Not the fun kind of circus
This is what happens when the right-wing fringe is emboldened and empowered.
The extent to which President Donald Trump has emboldened and empowered fringe views wasn’t just on full view Thursday during a White House social media summit that featured many far-right conspiracy theorists and hoaxers — it was perfectly captured by the conduct of one attendee.
The day before the summit, former White House aide Sebastian Gorka was widely ridiculed for making an absurd claim on his radio show that the US women’s national soccer team was seeking “to destroy everything that is wholesome in our country and in our Judeo-Christian civilization.” But on Thursday, Gorka — back in the White House as an invited guest — was praised for doing a “good job” by the president before going on to verbally harass a member of the White House press corps.
Trump ended his speech at the summit — one that largely centered on a baseless conspiracy theory about Twitter conspiring to suppress his follower count — by taking a question from and praising Gorka, who despite working at the White House in the early days of the Trump administration introduced himself as though the president didn’t know who he was. In a less amusing twist, Gorka followed that up by nearly instigating a physical altercation on White House grounds with a member of the White House press corps.
In the category of: The things you can’t undo
In a new book, Paul Ryan claims he checked and balanced a president who “didn’t know anything about government.” The former speaker is lying to himself—and everyone else.
So-called “mainstream Republicans” really are delusional. Either that, or they think the rest of us are delusional. We know this because the buff poster-boy of GOP insider politics, Paul Ryan, keeps peddling the fantasy that there is a high-level Republicanism that has differed from Trumpism. In conversations with Tim Alberta for the new book American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump, the former speaker of the House continues his long-term project of portraying himself as a heroic check and balance on Donald Trump. “Those of us around him really helped to stop him from making bad decisions. All the time,” says Ryan. “We helped him make much better decisions, which were contrary to kind of what his knee-jerk reaction was. Now I think he’s making some of these knee-jerk reactions.”
In the category of: Use of force or not…
Nancy Pelosi has been reluctant to impeach Donald Trump, but denying the reality of his transgressions will only perpetuate his narcissism and enable him politically.
Crises make and break historical reputations. In our current constitutional emergency, a few unlikely figures, above all the former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have upheld the rule of law, possibly redeeming their places in history. Many others, above all the current Attorney General, William Barr, seem determined to irretrievably sink theirs. Now the reputation at risk is that of the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.
With regard to the debate over the proper response to Donald Trump’s brazen deeds, Pelosi has not taken impeachment off the table, saying, “I don’t think you should impeach for political reasons, and I don’t think you should not impeach for political reasons.” Yet political reasons seem to be preventing her from pursuing constitutional concerns. Her reasoning is clear: if the House were to launch an impeachment without “overwhelming” evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors and strong bipartisan public support, Trump’s inevitable acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate would only strengthen him, and he could cruise to reëlection. But, in this instance, Pelosi’s normally acute political judgment is failing her, and the historical precedent she is evidently relying on—the impeachment of President Bill Clinton—is not analogous. In fact, based on the past half century of political history, suppressing an impeachment inquiry seems more likely to help insure Trump’s reëlection. If this happens, Pelosi’s formidable reputation, based on a lifetime of public service and her role as the first female Speaker of the House, will suffer.
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