I keep Michael Ramirez on my list of cartoonists to read because, while we often disagree on politics, we sometimes don’t, and, as a true conservative, he’s on the side of the angels with this commentary on Trump’s serial firing of inspectors general.
Okay, we disagree on how to form the plural, but machs nix: That’s more about my background as an editor than it is about our politics.
Where we agree is that Ramirez could have simply left it there, but he added “Government Accountability” to the list of Endangered Species, and that is the issue that would be on the table in a normal, functioning administration.
But isn’t in this one.
Apparently — I saw it on Facebook but can’t find it now — White House Spokesmodel Kayleigh McEnany wondered aloud why people trusted other presidents but don’t trust this one.
The comments that followed generally put “track record” above “patriotism,” but the larger point is that, over the past generation, we’ve seen an atmosphere in which spin has degenerated into genuine, bald-faced lies, and, as has been noted before, Trump is not the cause. He is the result.
Trump and Barr and Pompeo are simply the bastard grandsons of Gingrich and Norquist and Limbaugh, who in turn go back to when Richard Nixon asked Americans to turn on their porch lights at night if they supported his war policies, which caused a lot of thoughtful, decent people to fall down the steps.
We’re about one step short of blaming Democrats for the fire in the Reichstag or the attack on that radio station, because, as Kal Kallaugher draws it, Trump keeps sending up trial balloons and, when one won’t fly, he not only launches another but declares that the first one certainly was valid and sound, but the mainstream media refuses to tell you the truth.
And, again, it’s not just Trump. When Nixon began to go off the rails, there was a responsible, ethical legislature in place to control and, ultimately, to remove him.
It’s not simply a matter of shooting someone and not losing votes. It’s a matter of shooting someone and not losing the support of Mitch McConnell and his congressional minions.
It will only get worse if RBG doesn’t hold out, not until November but until the following January, because if you don’t think McConnell would rush through a replacement during the lame duck* session, you haven’t been paying attention.
(*Editor/Historian’s Note: That’s what a lame duck is. Not someone who won’t be running again, but someone who has lost the seat but whose replacement has not yet been sworn in. Be grateful it no longer lasts until March.)
Now we find that we’ve been lied to, or, at least, we weren’t getting the full story, about what Inspector General Steve Linick was looking into before Pompeo asked President Trump to snuff his candle.
We’d been told that he was investigating reports that Pompeo had a State Department employee doing personal chores at the Pompeo household, including washing dishes and walking the dog.
Which sounds like small potatoes indeed, except that asking employees to pick up your dry cleaning and so forth was banned from workplaces 30 years ago.
The first time my assistant fetched me coffee, I almost fell out my chair in embarrassment: I certainly hadn’t asked her to, and I definitely didn’t want anyone seeing her do it. (I didn’t turn down the thoughtful gesture; I simply made sure to bring her a cup equally often. We were both pretty wired by the end of the day.)
However, the Pompeo family’s abuse of a personal assistant is, at best, incomplete reporting and, at worst, another smokescreen.
Apparently, Linick was nosing around some expensive taxpayer-funded banquets Pompeo was hosting under the cover of official State Department functions, but at which the majority of guests were Republican power brokers and their wealthy backers, plus a Supreme Court Justice or two.
According to that NBC report, only 14% of invited guests were foreign diplomats, and these affairs included no speeches or programs whereby they might have been bringing Republicans, but not Democrats, up to date on their situations: It was purely a mix-and-mingle.
Moreover, spending taxpayer funds on irrelevant partisan boosterism is only part of why Linick had to go.
If you’re not a subscriber, you may not be able to read this NY Times article, but here’s the opening graf:
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined an interview request for the State Department inspector general’s inquiry into whether the Trump administration acted illegally in declaring an “emergency” to bypass a congressional freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to three people with knowledge of his actions.
The freeze has to do, at least in part, with the alleged murder of a Washington Post writer by Saudi henchmen at the direction of the Crown Prince, yet another intelligence-confirmed fact Dear Leader prefers not to believe.
Pompeo was willing to answer written questions, which, as the article notes, is a chance to have lawyers answer them instead.
It also gave him time to request that Linick no longer be inspector general.
Darrin Bell asks the relevant question: How much does it matter if the actual facts come out, when simply the implications of firing five inspectors general within six weeks are so clear?
To be fair, two of those IGs (IsG?) were not fired but assigned to somewhat parallel duties. But the other three were retaliatory, and the issue isn’t that Obama also fired inspectors general, so much as it is that (A) he provided coherent explanations and (B) was criticized from both sides for doing it.
The mic-drop commentary comes from Scott Stantis and, as with Ramirez, this qualifies as “criticism from both sides.”
Unless the sides now consist of Dear Leader, Moscow Mitch and the Deplorables arrayed against the rest of America.
In which case, the most hopeful cartoon of the moment is this Steve Brodner piece, since Trump’s support would be safer if he just shot people on Fifth Avenue rather than pulling crap like this: