erik lundegaard

Politics posts

Tuesday August 29, 2023

Mets, Marlins, Nats, Braves

It's been a busy month so I apologize for neglecting the fourth Trump indictment—the RICO case in Atlanta with his 17 or 18 co-conspirators. I did like this retweet from George Conway that he reposted on Post. (Yes, retweet reposted on Post. Sue me.)

I told my cousin Amy, a longtime Phillies fan, that Philadelphia has to get off the schnied. 

Jokes aside, it's still up to GOP voters, and GOP politicians, to take it all seriously. We know what Trump is; we've known that forever, and he'll never not be that way. But we weren't always this way. Rush and Fox News forged the path and all of it has to be owned up to, particularly by mainstream media outlets such as NYT and NPR, who have ignored it for way too long. It's all about the how, though, and no one has the answer. I certainly don't. But a few more GOP leaders actually showing leadership might help. 

Posted at 09:47 AM on Tuesday August 29, 2023 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Sunday April 30, 2023

Harry Belafonte (1927-2023)

I believe I first heard about Harry Belatonte from Archie Bunker on an episode of “All in the Family.” I remember the line, I just don't remember what prompted it:

“Harvey Belafonte ain't black. He's just a good lookin' white guy dipped in caramel!”

My mother or father (or both) may have laughed at the line, which I didn't get at all. Who is Harry Belafonte? Why is he not black? Oh, he is black? So why did Archie say it? Why is that funny?

I grew up in the '70s, not Belafonte's heyday, and I didn't see either “Buck and the Preacher” or “Uptown Saturday Night,” so where did I next come across him? Somewhere in the '80s. Through...

  •  His daughter Shari?
  • “Beetlejuice,” featuring “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and (my personal favorite) “Jump in the Line”?
  • “Parting the Waters” by Taylor Branch?

That's part of the irony of Archie's line: that good-looking white guy dipped in caramel was all over the Civil Rights Movement. He was a front-line man. He was a race man. In the index to Branch's book, under “Belafonte, Harry,” these are some of the subcategories:

  • Albany Movement and
  • Atlanta concerts of
  • Birmingham campaign and
  • Freedom Rides and
  • King's imprisonments and
  • King's meetings with
  • March on Washington and
  • 1960 elections and
  • R. Kennedy's meeting with
  • SNCC and
  • voter registration and

Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s great 1996 New Yorker profile of Belafonte begins with that week in Feb. 1968 when Belafonte hosted “The Tonight Show” for the vacationing Johnny Carson. At the time, Gates was a young college student, radicalized, and Belfaonte didn't disappoint. He brought the truth. He talked bluntly about race and power. He welcomed guests such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert Kennedy. It seem an era of possibilities. And within four months both men were dead of assassin's bullets. One wonders how '68 didn't break him. How do you deal with all that? How do you go on?

From Gates' profile, I learned that in the late 1940s Belafonte was friends and rivals with Sidney Poitier at the American Negro Theatre in Harlem, and the two men were befriended by the already legendary Paul Robeson, and all three would meet a bar on Fifth Avenue off of 125th Street and drink and talk. How is there not a play about that? “One Night in Miami” but in Harlem in the late 1940s. “He was very fond of Harry,” Poitier said of Robeson. “And Harry loved him.”

While Poitier was starring in Hollywood movies by 1950, Belafonte wound up with another path to stardom. Here he is on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1956. It's a year after Emmett Till. He's shirtless but for a vest, and gorgeous, and romantic, and one can only imagine how this fucked up the racists of the world—not to mention their wives.

He had six gold albums between 1956 and 1961. He had #1 singles in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium. He had TV specials and sang with Odetta. And he organized.

I didn't know until recently that the whole “DAAAYYYY-O” thing was about laborers; and I didn't figure out until writing this that “Mr. Tally Man” was just the guy who tallied the bananas that the laborers brought in. I thought it was a spectre of some kind. But it's just another way of saying “accountant.” 

Everyone always talks about lowering the ladder for those coming after you. Belafonte manned the ladder. He built more ladders. He wondered why others weren't manning and building more ladders. He spent a lifetime doing this.

Posted at 08:35 AM on Sunday April 30, 2023 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Wednesday April 26, 2023

GOP To-Don't List

I like David Frum's lede in this Atlantic article, talking about the five things Republicans knew they needed to do to make 2024 viable:

  1. Replace Donald Trump at the head of the ticket with somebody less obnoxious and impulsive.
  2. Capitalize on inflation and other economic troubles.
  3. Offer plausible ideas on drugs, crime, and border enforcement.
  4. Reassure women worried about the post-Roe future.
  5. Don't be too obvious about suppressing Democratic votes, because really blatant voter suppression will provoke and mobilize Democrats to vote, not discourage them.

And they haven't done any of them: Trump leads the pack, the GOP's debt-ceiling recklessness is the biggest U.S. economic problem, they have no good ideas for anything, and, as the clickbait goes, “No. 4 is the worst one!”

Frum, or one of his editors, calls the piece “The Coming Biden Blowout,” which I initially thought meant Biden would blow out. Or maybe the Atlantic is hedging its bets. Either way, here's hoping all of this backfires on the GOP. Awful things should happen to awful people for a change.

Posted at 01:37 PM on Wednesday April 26, 2023 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Wednesday March 29, 2023


NPR has an article on the Nashville school shooting earlier this week, in which former student Audrey Hale, 28, who identifies as male, killed three adults and three 9-year-olds. It's entitled “4 Big Questions about the Nashville School Shooting,” and those big questions are:

  • What was the shooter's motive? (Seemed to be targeting the school but no individual within it)
  • Could police have confiscated the suspect's guns? (Not in Tennessee. Because Tennessee.)
  • Is it a hate crime? (The Josh Hawley trope. The school is Christian, so it's a way of deflecting from the discussion about “access to weaponry.” Which feels like the more important discussion.)
  • Will lawmakers pass gun control measure? (Spare me)

Classically NPR, all of their questions are within the parameters of what the NRA and GOP make permissible. There's no thought outside that.

Which is why they leave out the real question. I call it the Jon Stewart question

Earlier this month, for his Apple TV+ show, “The Problem with Jon Stewart,” he interviewed Oklahoma state senator Nathan Daum, a Second Amendment absolutist, about gun matters. And Stewart went right to the heart of a longstanding NRA/GOP talking point. Whenever a mass shooting occurs, these guys say the problem isn't guns; it's too few guns. More guns were needed to keep us safe. It's the good-guy-with-a-gun thing. Some thinktank asshole thought that BS up, and the GOP's been running with it ever since. 

Stewart addressed it early. He looked at Sen. Daum and said this: 

“You're saying more guns make us more safe. So ... when?”

It's the best argument I've heard on the topic. And the whole 8-9 minute interview is fantastic: reasonable while still being very, very angry. It puts the onus on them, which is where it belongs. It's remind them that we create order out of chaos everywhere else, so why are we're not doing it here. It reminds them that for the most fundamental right in an American democracy, the right to vote, you still have to register. And they don't want that done for owning a killing machine?

That should be the slogan anytime we get a mass shooting. When? Anytime anyone in the NRA or GOP opens their piehole on the topic. When? Everytime more children are killed. When? You say we're getting safer. That doesn't seem to be the case. So ... when?

Posted at 03:11 PM on Wednesday March 29, 2023 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Monday March 06, 2023

At 2023 CPAC, Bannon Trumps Trump

At least via this article from John Hendrickson in The Atlantic. I remember when I didn't even know CPAC existed. Fun times.

Hendrickson says Trump's two-hour, rambling and complaining speech gave off a “1 a.m. at the party” vibe rather than anything  vibrant and angry, and he wondered if this wasn't “the last gasp of CPAC.” In the next sentence, he finally unburied his lede—or at least the most interesting fact about the event: Fox News wasn't there. It wasn't a sponsor. Instead, the thing was sponsored and attended by the grabbag of kooks and grifters that hope to fill Fox's void if Fox ever leaves a void: Newsmax, The Epoch Times, Right Side Broadcasting Network, America First, One America News, Lindell TV, blah blah blah.

According to Trump, the 2020 election was still stolen, the state is still deep, the U.S. is becoming a “crime-ridden, filthy communist nightmare,” and we put up illegal immigrants at the Waldorf Astoria. “My wonderful travel ban is gone,” he lamented at one point. That made me smile, remembering the horror of it. And remember how he always said he was the only one who could fix a seemingly unsolvable problem even though he couldn't solve 2+2? He's latest unsolvable only he can solve is Russia-Ukraine. One assumes by backing Russia:

“I stand here today, and I'm the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent—and very easily—World War III.” (Wild applause.) “And you're gonna have World War III, by the way.” (Confused applause.)

It was Bannon who attacked the true enemy:

Late Friday afternoon, he marched onto the stage in all black, three pens clipped to his shirt, and attacked Fox News for its alleged “soft ban” of Trump. He referred to the Murdoch family as “a bunch of foreigners” and said, “Note to Fox senior management: When Donald J. Trump talks, it's newsworthy.” He fired up the crowd: “We're not looking for unity. We're looking for victory!” He pounded his hand on the lectern, summing up the theme of the weekend: “MAGA! MAGA! MAGA!”

That's dipshit American for “Tora! Tora! Tora!” 

Posted at 08:42 AM on Monday March 06, 2023 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Wednesday March 01, 2023


“I know it violates the sensibilities of the innocent and tender-minded, but in the real world you sometimes have to employ extreme and extralegal methods to preserve the very system whose laws you're violating.”

-- G. Gordon Liddy, in a Playboy magazine interview years ago, vis a vis his discussion with other operatives on how to assassinate journalist Jack Anderson. It's detailed in Mark Feldstein's recent article, “The Nixon White House plotted to assassinate a journalist 50 years ago,” in The Washington Post. I know a lot about Nixon, and Watergate, but I never knew this story. Seems insane, and Liddy seems more sociopath than I realized. Feldstein quotes the above after writing, “Liddy offered to stab Anderson to death and make it look like a routine robbery by stealing Anderson's watch and wallet.” Apparently a few days after Howard Hunt briefed Charles Colson on the matter, the hit was canceled, or at least put on pause, so they could bug Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. It's possible that Frank Wills not only helped expose the underbelly of the Nixon administration, he might've saved Jack Anderson's life, too.

Posted at 09:13 AM on Wednesday March 01, 2023 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Tuesday February 07, 2023

Republicans Just Want Trump to Die

“In his recent book Thank You for Your Servitude, my colleague Mark Leibovich quoted a former Republican representative who bluntly summarized his party's plan for dealing with Trump: 'We're just waiting for him to die.' As it turns out, this is not an uncommon sentiment. In my conversations with Republicans, I heard repeatedly that the least disruptive path to getting rid of Trump, grim as it sounds, might be to wait for his expiration.

”Their rationale was straightforward: The former president is 76 years old, overweight, appears to maintain the diet of a college freshman, and believes, contrary to all known science, that exercise is bad for you. Why risk alienating his supporters when nature will take its course sooner or later? Peter Meijer, a former Republican representative who left office this month, termed this strategy actuarial arbitrage.

“'You have a lot of folks who are just wishing for [Trump's] mortal demise,' Meijer told me. 'I want to be clear: I'm not in that camp. But I've heard from a lot of people who will go onstage and put on the red hat, and then give me a call the next day and say, ”I can't wait until this guy dies.“ And it's like, Good Lord.'”

-- from “Republicans' 2024 Magical Thinking,” by McKay Coppins, on The Atlantic site. Coppins adds that though Trump turns 77 this year, his mother lived to be 88, his father 93, “so this strategy isn't exactly foolproof.”

I'm sure it'll all work out fine, GOP.

Posted at 09:13 AM on Tuesday February 07, 2023 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Tuesday December 20, 2022

Our Screwed-Up Times in a Paragraph

From “How Trump jettisoned restraints at Mar-a-Lago and prompted legal peril” in The Washington Post:

In the two years since he left office, Trump has re-created the conditions of his own freewheeling White House—with all of its chaos, norm flouting and catering to his ego—with little regard for the law. With this behavior, Trump prompted a criminal investigation into his post-presidential handling of classified documents to compound the ongoing one into his and his allies' efforts to overturn the 2020 election results—which presents potential legal peril and risks hobbling his nascent bid to be elected president again in 2024.

It's the word risks that does it for me. We get his aberrant behavior, his disregard for the rule of law, and the two huge, ongoing criminal investigations against him, and, oh yeah, he's still running for president and we guess all that risks such a run.

I'm not critiquing the writers, by the way. The paragraph perfectly encapsulates our screwed-up times. 

The article is long but good. It's Trump in winter. How he's surrounded himself with only the most sycophantic. How they spend much of their time trying to buoy him up. How he has no one to tell him, “You know, that might not be a good idea.” One former aide describes the situation as “sad”—which, remember, with exclamation point, used to be one of Trump's many Twittery catchphrases back in the day. What goes around. 

More sad for him, good for us: Yesterday, the House select committee on the Jan. 6 attacks formally recommended criminal prosecution for Trump on four counts: inciting insurrection, obstructing an act of Congress, conspiring to defraud the U.S., and conspiring to make a false statement. It's the first time Congress has recommended criminal prosecution for a U.S. president ever. We'll see what DOJ does now. 

Posted at 01:46 PM on Tuesday December 20, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Monday December 12, 2022

Trump Done/Not Done

“The official campaign for the 2024 Republican Presidential nomination is barely three weeks old, but there is one clear takeaway so far: Donald Trump is running against himself—and losing.

”From his low-energy announcement speech at Mar-a-Lago to his dinner with the Hitler-praising Kanye West and the white supremacist Nick Fuentes, Trump has courted more controversy than votes since launching his bid in November. He has held no campaign rallies and hired no campaign manager. He has hosted a QAnon conspiracy theorist and helped raise money for the indicted insurrectionists of January 6th. More classified items have been found in his possession, and his Trump Organization was convicted in New York of a major tax-fraud scheme. He has scared away neither prospective opponents nor prosecutors, and, while openly courting extremists, he seems to be running on a campaign platform that is somehow even more nakedly driven by self-interest than his previous two bids. Just last week, he suggested jettisoning the Constitution so he could be reinstated to the office he was thrown out of by the voters in 2020. ... Has there ever been a more awful start to a campaign?

“For all of that, it's not clear just what kind of Trump car crash we're watching. Is this the end-end of Trump, the long-anticipated Republican jailbreak? Or merely another moment when the false hope of Trump's imminent demise is indulged for a few days or weeks before being once again disproved? ... For all the breathless coverage, Trump retains the support of more than 40% of the G.O.P. electorate in recent surveys—more than enough to win the Republican nomination in a crowded field.”

-- Susan B. Glasser, “Trump's 2024 Campaign So Far Is an Epic Act of Self-Sabotage; But is this really the end of an error?” on The New Yorker site

Posted at 04:49 PM on Monday December 12, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Saturday November 19, 2022

The 2022 Midterms

Mike Lukovich, AJC

James Fallow in his substack says pretty much what I think of political prognostication—just better. Certainly more even-handed. Nary a swear word in the bunch.

He's taking the political press to task, particularly The New York Times, for its awful pre-midterm coverage that presaged doom for the Democrats. He also highlights the Times' bias in these matters. 

Midterms tend to go for the party not in power. “Every first-term president since World War II (except one) has suffered midterm election losses,” Fallows writes. “The average loss has been around 30 House seats.” Then he crunches the numbers for those House races. Reminder, this is just for first-term presidents:

  • 1962 (JFK): -5
  • 1966 (LBJ): -47
  • 1970 (Nixon): -12
  • 1974 (Ford): -49
  • 1978 (Carter): -15
  • 1982 (Reagan): -26
  • 1990 (Bush I): -7
  • 1994 (Clinton): -54
  • 2002 (Bush II): +8
  • 2010 (Obama): -63
  • 2018 (Trump): -41
  • 2022 (Biden): -4(?)

I'd forgotten how bad 2010 was—if I ever knew—but chalk it up to right-wing talk radio, and Fox News, and the everpresent fear of a black planet. Plus liberal complacency—mine included.

The point is, first-term midterm losses are all but inevitable. But in 2018, with Trump in office, what was the Times headline? 


A bit of a shrug there. It's the Times with their hands up: Who knows?

And their 2022 headlines with Biden in office? For some reason, the shrug is gone.



I've long been against news prognostication anyway. The news is what's been, not what might be, and what's been is tough enough without muddying the waters. But if you're going to do it, at least try to be even-handed about it. And if you fuck up—in not being even-handed, and in not being accurate—how about a mea culpa? Or a nostra culpa? From the Times so far, crickets.

I had no idea how the midterms would turn out, by the way. The Sunday before, we were in the apartment of Patricia's friend Peter Goldman, who once covered national politics for Newsweek, and I said that outright. I had a better sense of 2016, 2020, even 2018. For this year, I just didn't know what forces would matter more: the post-Dobbs, pro-democracy voice or the usual midterm “I don't like how things are so whatever” voice. Peter was also unsure. We both kind of shrugged. If only the Times had done that. 

Posted at 09:42 AM on Saturday November 19, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Thursday October 06, 2022


I was already enjoying Marc Maron's recent podcast with writer-director Tony Gilroy, who was on, one assumes, because of the new “Star Wars” thing on the Disney channel, “Andor,” which he created, wrote, executive-produced, and which I've heard is good. But Maron doesn't care much for the “Star Wars” thing; he wanted to talk about “Michael Clayton,” which Gilroy wrote and directed back in 2007, and which Maron is obsessed with. That's fun. There are no weeds too deep for Marc Maron on “Michael Clayton.” You could tell he was having a great time talking about it.

But we also get Gilroy's story—how his dad was a playwright, etc., how he write this and the other, including “The Devil's Advocate,” with Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron, and what exactly was the hook in that film that finally worked for him as a screenwriter. Also the insanity of it. Its bigness. Al Pacino eating up scenes. He and Marc are laughing about it when we get this exchange:

Gilroy: Oh my god, and the Trump shit.

Maron: Yeah. [Pause] Was he in there?

Gilroy: Fuck, man, that's his apartment. The killer real-estate dude, the killer real-estate molester, we shot in his apartment, Trump's apartment. We needed the ugliest, most garish, horrifying, real-estate developer apartment you could possibly have, and Trump threw his apartment at us.

Maron: That's right. Ohhh....

Gilroy: And we didn't have to—if you look at the movie, that's his fucking shitbag apartment, with all the Versailles gilt, and then the high-rise windows. It's just so perfect. And he came by the set every day. 

Maron: Really?

Gilroy: Oh yeah. Poke around. 

Maron: What was your impression of him? At that time. Obviously the apartment's the apartment, but--

Gilroy: Look, he was a clown. I grew up in New York. I'd been in New York since 1979, I sat at a table in the China Club with he and Bo Dietl. I'd been around him. Just a fucking clown. You know, just that clown.

Maron: Grifter.

Gilroy: Grifter-clown, kind of loser-outsider. A pretend rich guy. Because, you know, if you live in New York, and I'd been there all this time, and the kids go to school, you're really around titans. 

Maron: Sure. Yeah, yeah.

Gilroy: There's some really big arterial power and money. He was not any part of that. 

Maron: And they looked at him like, “Look at this guy.” 

Gilroy: He's lint.

Maron: So you had a deal with him on Devil's Advocate.

Gilroy: He would come by. He would come by on the way down to the office or wherever, peek by, try to see Charlize or whatever the thing he was trying to do. Everyone's laughing at him. Laughing at his apartment. 

Maron: It's so funny he was part of the “Devil” movie. Of course he was. 

A few thoughts.

One, Gilroy sounds a little like Sidney Pollack's character in “Michael Clayton”: I know where the power lies and how the game is played, and these other schmucks don't. And one of those schmucks is the former president.

Two, I love that Maron is interviewer enough to just ask the open-ended question “What was your impression of him?” He's talking about the great villain in Maron's and my life, but he doesn't impose any of that on the question. He pulls back and opens it up. That's the way to do it.

Three is simply a question: Does Donald Trump hear the laughter? Does he do what he does to silence the laughter? Did we all go through the horrors of the last six years, and however many years going forward, because the Tony Gilroys of the world laughed at this dumb, dumpy real estate developer? 

When I first heard this exchange, I wanted to get it in front of all of those idiots who continue to see Trump as a great man, a great businessman, a moral examplar. The 74 million absolute idiots that voted for him. Listening again as I transcribed the above, I realized it was probably the only moment in the last six years where I felt anything close to a pang of empathy for him. 

Posted at 10:49 AM on Thursday October 06, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Thursday September 08, 2022

The Random-Nut Memo

“I remember, when I was reporting on the book, Mitt Romney said to me, 'One of the first things you learn in politician school is: Don't say something that's going to inflame the random nut out there.' And Donald Trump never got the random-nut memo.”

-- Journalist Mark Leibovich last week on the “Stay Tuned with Preet” podcast. Thought of it again reading Ruby Cramer's excellent piece on the threats on the life of Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and other Democratic members of Congress. And it's not just Trump. It's Fox, and right-wing talk radio, and that crowd. I remember after Obama got elected, how Fox News upped the rhetoric against him, and the concern I had for this very reason. Today, the nuts are much more numerous and much less random. 

Posted at 04:47 PM on Thursday September 08, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Monday September 05, 2022

Repeat This Sentence Every Day Until the 2024 Election

“On December 18th, Trump hosted Flynn and a group of other election deniers in the Oval Office, where, for the first time in American history, a President would seriously entertain using the military to overturn an election.”

-- from “Inside the War Between Trump and His Generals: How Mark Milley and others in the Pentagon handled the national-security threat posed by their own Commander-in-Chief,” by Susan Glasser and Peter Baker, in The New Yorker. Recommended.

Posted at 11:01 AM on Monday September 05, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

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   |   Permalink  

Sunday August 28, 2022

Trump's Not-Final Scorecard

Read this the other night while finishing Mark Leibovich's book on the cowards and opportunists in the Republican/Trumpian party. It's a sum-up as Trump is letting the door hit his ass on the way out:

Trump's always-low approval ratings—now down in the 30s—were the well-earned product of a toxic personality and now fully disastrous final scorecard: he would leave office as the first president in history to be impeached twice, the first since Hoover to preside over his party's loss of the House, Senate, and White House in a single term, the first president in history to leave office with fewer jobs than he entered with, the indirect cause of (conservatively) thousands of coronavirus deaths, countless international embarrassments, and a nation that felt far more divided and deranged than at any time in decades. Trump was easily the sorest loser, most prodigious liar, and most insufferable whiner in presidential history. And no commander in chief had ever departed the White House with as massive a legal and financial burden as Donald Trump would now face.

And it gets worse—for him. This week the affidavit that led to the FBI retrieval of classified and/or national security documents from Trump's private residence at Mar-a-Lago was made public in very redacted form. (The New York Times has a very helpful annotated version.) What does it show that we didn't suspect? Not much. But it shows it in plain legal language. All of us are learning our government acronyms, too: NARA for National Archives and Records Administration, the dept. that spent much of 2021 and '22 trying to retrieve the 15 or more boxes; NDI for National Defense Information, which was what was in those 15 or more boxes, including SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information), SI (Special Intelligence) and HCS (intelligence derived from human sources or spies). Trump was putting them all at risk—that's how NYT led with it the following day—but the big point is he might have already done so. Allies and operatives might already be dead because of him. He's a sloppy man who put top secret intel in a sloppy place, and the question is still this one: why.

Initially I thought it was just the sloppiness. It was the whiny baby in him who needed to say “MINE!” on the way out. That, by the way, is the best interpretation Republicans can make—that their man is just a whiny spoiled child who grabbed stuff as he pouted his way home. “Well, if you're not letting me win I'm going to take this!” That was my initial thought. But now I'm wondering. There's also vindictive Trump. Maybe he's trying to get back at us, the whole country, for “betraying” him by not letting him win. Then there's bad-businessman Trump, who never did a thing in his life without attempting to monetize it. Those documents had value to our enemies—who were often his friends. Could I perceive a scenario where Trump might think, “Why wouldn't I make money by showing my friends these papers that my enemies, who wouldn't let me win, think are important?” You bet. 

That final scorecard is still in play.

Posted at 10:31 AM on Sunday August 28, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  
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