erik lundegaard

Monday August 29, 2022

Weaponizing Americans

The other week I said Mark Leibovich's “Thank You for Your Servitude: Donald Trump's Washington and the Price of Submission” was easier to read than, say, Jane Mayer's “Dark Money,” because it's kind of fun finding out how painful the Trump era was/is to most traditional Republicans: the Reince Priebuses and Paul Ryans of the world. Example:

When Trump took office in 2017, there were 241 Republicans in the House, David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report pointed out. “Since then, 115 (48%) had either retired, resigned, been defeated or at that point had signaled plans to retire in 2020.” Anecdotally, the single biggest reason these members gave for walking away was they had no interest in debasing themselves in the service of Trump any longer than they had to. “You have a situation where the leader of our party models the worst behavior imaginable,” another outgoing Republican member of Congress told me. “And if you're a Republican in Washington, the idea is basically to make yourself as much of a dickhead as possible in order to get attention and impress the biggest dickhead of all, the guy sitting in the White House.”

I asked the outgoing congressman—very nicely, even a tad aggressively—whether I could attach his name to this excellent quote. “No fucking way,” he said. Why? “Because a lot of these dickheads are my friends. And I might have to lobby them one day, too.

”I know, it's depressing.“

Reading that and other similar comments, though, some part of my schadenfreude dissipated. Because I realized this on a deeper level: No one in American history has weaponized a greater segment of the American public than Donald Trump. No one. He's turned 35% of America into his private little goon squad.

This past week has underlined this fact. He has threatened to unleash his useful idiots if the DOJ/FBI continues its investigation into the Mar-a-Lago docs. Because after six, seven years, these people still believe his lies. They still attack and threaten those who search for the truth, or who fight to keep America—and them—safe. That's the irony and awfulness. They think Trump is their guy but he's only his own, horrifically his own. Yet they'll flip and flop however far he asks them to: from cries of ”Law and order!“ to cries of ”Kill the FBI!“ From ”Lock her up!“ to ”It's just papers!“ Never have so many been so devoted to someone so worthless.

Will they ever fall away? What would it take? It's a cult. That's the Republican party now: a cult propped up by cowards and opportunists. It's not just depressing, it's beyond depressing. ”I might have to lobby them one day, too." Sure, buddy. And when you look around from that lobbying, when you look beyond your own interests, exactly what kind of country are you standing in? That's the worry.

Posted at 10:02 AM on Monday August 29, 2022 in category Politics  
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