It was seven years ago today that presidential candidate Donald Trump rode down an escalator to the cheers of a crowd it later turned out had been hired rather than simply assembled, which is hardly surprising, given that he was not a minor politician stepping up into a major campaign.
He had plenty of fans, because he’d starred in a popular TV show and had worked for several years to pump up his image, but he didn’t have a base of supporters who had backed him in local or state politics.
The move was not unprecedented: Ronald Reagan had headed the Screen Actors Guild but that’s not public office, and Arnold Schwartzenegger didn’t even have that much background. Both became governors of California.
Governor of California is not chopped liver, and Reagan parlayed it into two terms as president, while former actor George Murphy served credibly in the US Senate and former quarterback Jack Kemp had an outstanding political career.
But Trump’s move seemed more like Clint Eastwood’s one term as mayor of Carmel, from which rarified heights of power he legalized eating ice cream on the street.
However, while plenty of people laughed when he came down the escalator, plenty of voters chose fame over substance and, as Ann Telnaes points out, he may have had to pay people to cheer when he entered the fray, but he made it all back on his way out.
Besides ongoing profits from vacationing at his own properties and charging the Secret Service to stay there, and from any hints that may have induced foreign dignitaries to stay at his hotel in Washington, Trump raised $250 million from his True Believers for legal challenges to the 2020 elections that could never have succeeded and apparently never took place.
Not a bad return on investment for a self-proclaimed master of the deal with a substantial record of business failures.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Profit aside, what’s the result of the Big Grift?
Fell marks it as a potentially powerful political gambit for Democrats, which seems perfectly logical, but Hall’s analysis relies, instead, on the well-established reluctance of the grifted to even realize, much less admit, that they’ve been snookered.
The difference in their views being a return to that famous escalator ride, which some people found laughable and others found inspiring.
The truth is out there, as Dave Granlund says, and Liz Cheney has been doing a masterful job of laying out not just the con game that rifled the pockets of the Trump faithful but the overall plot to mount a coup, overturn the election and subvert American democracy.
If anyone cares.
The best hope is that she may get through to the voters in the middle, the people who have stepped away from the toxicity of current politics and stopped paying attention to all the partisan sturm und drang because it was complicated and unpleasant and seemed to be happening out there somewhere distant from daily life.
Perhaps she can bring it back home and spur them into motion.
But Trump loyalists like Mike Lester (AMS) are also active, declaring the Jan 6 Committee a Democratic fake, despite the fact that it was the GOP’s choice to refuse to participate and, in many cases, to refuse to testify.
Here, findings are condemned on the premise that it is not illegal to conspire across state lines to riot — which would have come as a relief to the Chicago Eight — nor is there any law, Lester contends, against soliciting money for an organization that doesn’t exist, or against pressuring officials to submit falsified election returns and to “find” ballots that don’t exist.
And, while a fellow is being charged for having wanted to kill Brett Kavanaugh, despite halting before he did it and even calling 911 to turn himself in and ask for help, it is apparently quite all right to express similar intentions towards Vice President Pence and to refuse to make phone calls to upset that plot.
It’s also worth pointing out that the Committee has specifically, pointedly and repeatedly insisted that its job is strictly to uncover the facts and that it fully intends to leave the prosecutions, imprisonments and — well, probably not — executions to the Department of Justice.
But, hey, was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
Besides, you can undercut the testimony from either side. Even people who apparently disapprove of destroying the American system of government are critical of those who change their minds and cooperate with the investigation.
Dave Whamond is not the only person from the left side of the aisle whose response to Republican testimony is to ask why they didn’t speak up sooner, rather than to celebrate the fact that they are speaking up now.
It’s entirely possible that they didn’t speak up sooner because they weren’t having their feet held to the fire.
Another common complaint from the left has been that the Committee, and especially the DOJ, have not moved quickly enough against the major players in the attempted coup.
But, as Kevin Kallaugher points out, the connections are now being made.
Starting at the bottom and working your way up is fairly common police work. When you stop a drug mule at the border, you offer him a lighter sentence if he’ll continue his assignment and lead you to the person who is paying him.
Similarly, we’ve seen a lot of low-level rioters being encouraged to lead the authorities to those further up the ladder, and the fact that many of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been talking makes the questioning of the further-ups far more, shall we say, persuasive.
They are getting closer to the head of the snake.
Mind you, when they get there, they may not be able to count on the Supreme Court voting 9-0 in favor of the investigators, as it did in the case of Nixon’s White House Tapes, the moment at which Nixon’s games finally ended.
Watergate was confined to the Executive Branch, but, as Steve Brodner points out, we’re looking at a much longer and more tangled snake this time around.
And keep the faith. It ain’t over ’til it’s over.
6 thoughts on “CSotD: Escalating Events”
Ironically, not only is Lester wrong about the nature of the offences committed, but in distributing this comic he himself is committing yet another instance of slander. Of course, he’ll likely never be held accountable for it, just like so many others, but one can hope…
Lester is basically a liar. If this were 1932 Germany he’d be cartooning for Der Sturmer.
Today at 2:33 today NBC ended live coverage and switched to golf:
Does that make Lester Holt Joseph Goebbels?
Germans bombed Pearl Harbour? A senior moment, checking see if we are awake, or the victim of a poor education system?
(insert smiley here 😎
A sophomoric moment. Google it.
Wondering if Whamond’s choice of the wrong lyrics was intentional. Certainly the 1899 song is long out of copyright. The 1955 cartoon, probably not.
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