Or will they self-cannibalize and cede field to imperial outrage?
BY PETER F. STEVENS
A Hobson’s choice is loosely defined as take it or leave it. What are President Trump and his simpering Senate sycophants, the Banana Republicans offering us as a choice? Take on their frontal assault on the Constitution—immolating separation of executive and legislative powers, Congressional oversight, an independent judiciary, and a free press. Or leave them alone to ensure that the Constitution is mere lofty words on musty parchment and nothing more than whatever the president and his minions say it is.
The Democrats? Their self-cannibalizing response offers strongly worded letters and lame subpoenas against the GOP’s blowtorch against Constitutional rights—not “norms,” a favorite, feckless term of both the press and Democrats. Or one can simply leave them alone to don sackcloth and ashes, the remains of American’s grand experiment with democracy, which is not to be confused with Democrats.
Because GOP members in the House and the Senate have collectively chosen to prostrate themselves before the altar of Donald Trump and because the Democrats on Capitol Hill shriek that we’re in the midst of a “Constitutional crisis” but are too divided to muster the will or the guts to confront it, the possibility that the nation stands on the dawn of an imperial presidency -now and future - doesn’t seem so far-fetched as it once did. It does not take a Constitutional expert to surmise that while the Founders did foresee potential presidential tyrants when they bestowed investigative and impeachment powers to the House and the Senate, Madison & Co. surely did not anticipate that a political party would support any deed of a president with a mindless, lock-step obeisance.
Buttressed by a team of propagandists and water-carriers that sadly includes a great many historically myopic Irish Americans named Fitzgerald, Conway, and Mulvaney, Trump will be taking his spectacle on the road to the Land of a Thousand Welcomes in early June. According to the Irish Times and other “fake media” such as, well, just about every news outlet not in the Fox and Sinclair orbit, the president might find his “thousand welcomes” in the Emerald Isle somewhat less enthusiastic than those he gets from of his numerous Irish American supporters.
The president and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will meet at Shannon Airport on June 5. The Trump administration denied, and the Irish government downplayed, a story that a snag as to a meeting site erupted when the Trump camp insisted that the two leaders sit down at Doonbeg, a golf club that Trump owns. Now that the spot for the meet and greet has been set, the Irish Times (May 23, 2019) addressed the visceral disdain may in the Republic evince toward the president: “The challenge facing the Taoiseach will be to find a way to have a reasonably amicable exchange with the US president while staking out a firm position on issues that directly concern Ireland and the EU.
“President Donald Trump’s visit…is probably the last thing the Government needs,” the paper wrote, “but [Varadkar] did issue the invitation and must deal with his guest as best he can. The ties that bind Ireland and the United States are so important for historic, cultural, and economic reasons that Varadkar had little option…”
Regarding the welcome Trump might encounter, the Times asserted that his “record at home and abroad will ensure that his visit to Co. Clare will generate protests. This was acknowledged by Varadkar, who remarked in his initial response to the visit that in a democracy protest ‘is allowed and is welcome.’ This statement of fact was misconstrued in some quarters as encouragement to protest but, one way or another, big protests can be expected. And that is good….when it comes to issues like free trade, climate change and the Iran nuclear deal, Varadkar will have to let the president know that this State takes a very different view to his… dislike for the EU and his sympathy for Britain’s Brexiteers…”
On the eve of the presidential visit, the ever-controversial and topical Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole weighed in on Joe Biden, the Irish American who he says “might” face off against the incumbent in 2020 (May 18, 2019). For the Trump-hating legions, sit down and brace yourselves. O’Toole asks and answers, “Who can beat Trump? Not Joe Biden.”
While noting that beating him at the ballot box is a goal that all the president’s detractors deem as non-negotiable, O’Toole nonetheless assails what he sees as a pitfall of Biden’s assumed inevitability: He “seems to have the quality that more exciting candidates are said to lack: electability. What lies behind this assumption is an acceptance of identity politics. Trump won in large part because he animated the resentments of white voters, especially men. Therefore, the logic goes, the Democrats can beat him only if they have a candidate who does not make white men angry just because of who they are – in other words, the candidate to beat Trump must not be black, female or gay or (worse) any two of the above.”
Along with the “white voters, especially men,” O’Toole also targets the 52 percent of white women voters who cast their ballots for Trump in 2016 despite his indisputable misogyny in the Access Hollywood video and the numerous allegations of sexual assault against him.
O’Toole posits that Democrats betting that it’s Biden or bust—“even many progressives who think it appalling that good candidates should be ruled out on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation”—may be falling into a Trumpian trap. To quote the president, “We’ll see…”
If the Democrats tear each other apart in their zeal to unseat Trump rather than to show the spine to somehow hold him accountable for his assault on institutions that up till now have held the line, the party is likely finished. Conversely, if the president, Attorney General William Barr, and the GOP succeed in overturning the Affordable Care Act—or the word that must not be uttered, “Obamacare”—the House Republicans’ victory lap of June 2010 will likely end over history’s cliff in the November 2020 election.
If the Dems really want to win, each and every day between now and the election, they should ask one question of the president, Barr, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and the sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham: Where is your plan to replace the ACA, preserve coverage of pre-existing conditions, and prevent 20 million or more Americans from losing affordable healthcare?
To date, have you heard an honest answer? Of course not. Only silence, occasionally broken by bald-faced lies.
Or will they self-cannibalize and cede field to imperial outrage?