Fear or Boldness?
“He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown.”
– White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaking about President* Trump, quoted in “Fear” by Bob Woodward
“…that’s when the Democratic Party has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people. When we led with conviction and principle and bold new ideas. The antidote to a government controlled by a powerful few, a government that divides is a government by the organized, energized, inclusive many. That’s what this moment’s about. That has to be the answer.”
– Former President Barack Obama, speech at the University of Illinois, Sept. 7, 2018
There were new stories this week, but it wasn’t a big surprise to learn what was in them. That’s not to say that they didn’t grab our attention. They did. Perhaps too much sometimes. But in one way or another, if we’re honest, they told us what we already knew.
Donald Trump is a madman. Everyone who works for him knows it. He’s infantile, has no attention span, is given to mind-blowing rages, is paranoid. He humiliates those who work for him and they return the favor by telling each other – and leaking to the press – that he’s a moron. Every Republican in Congress knows it, too. And yet they will do nothing about it. They won’t say anything. They won’t take any action. Instead, they’ll pretend that he’s their cherished leader. Even Democrats seem to shy away from saying what must be said: he is a danger to us all, every minute. He is unfit to lead.
Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear” gave us fresh examples of Trump’s insanity. The stories were new, but the message was the same. The same as Michael Wolff’s in “Fire and Fury”. The same as Omarosa’s. The same as the constant leaks out of the White House. And, a day after news of Woodward’s book broke, the same as a letter to the editor of the Times by “anonymous”, a “senior figure” at the White House who claimed to be part of a Republican “Resistance” helping to protect America by subverting Trump’s commands – selectively. It was widely pointed out that the writer was actually a collaborator apparently seeking pre-emptive absolution. The letter enraged Trump (what doesn’t?) It also diverted attention.
Through the week, Senate Republicans held hearings for their anointed Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. They did it by trashing Senate norms, withholding documents, rushing the hearings, attempting to quash inquiry. To their credit, Democrats fought back, and hard. Kamala Harris in particular was sharp, incisive, on the mark. By week’s end we knew that Kavanaugh had previously lied under oath to Congress, that he didn’t consider Roe v Wade “settled law” after all, that he would neither recuse himself from judging Trump, nor restrain the demagogue in any way. It appears that Republicans will confirm him nonetheless. What’s the point of hearings if you ignore everything you learn? One might better ask: how is it that Republicans have so married themselves to corruption, lawlessness and demagoguery? How have they so abandoned everything – yes, everything – that our country has stood for?
Former President Barack Obama emerged from retirement this week to hit the campaign trail – to fight back against the Republican ruination of our country. Yes, this is unprecedented. So is the crisis we’re in. Finally, he laid the blame where it belongs, squarely at the Republicans’ feet. He was clear that it wasn’t just Trump, though he’s the petulant, ignorant, ranting orange face of their radicalism. But being Obama, he also talked about the way forward, in words that called to mind Democrats running successfully all over the country. Conor Lamb. Doug Jones. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes. Andrew Gillum. Andrew Janz. Katie Porter. Beto O’Rourke. Democrats who seek out their constituents, who listen to them, who craft solutions to help them with their most pressing needs. And who aren’t afraid. Aren’t afraid to offer bold new ideas. And aren’t afraid to fight.
The title of Woodward’s book comes from a Trump quote: “Real power is — I don’t even want to use the word — fear”, echoing Machiavelli’s The Prince, “…it is much safer to be feared than loved.” But it’s safe to say that the more immediate meaning is that we all have ample reason to be afraid, for our safety, for our country, every single day that the Mad King and his Crazytown court are in power. In November, we must throw them – Republican control of the House and Senate – out.
In Other News
- Hundreds of migrant children are still separated from their parents. Republicans pretend the crisis is long passed. It isn’t. We need to keep fighting for the children. Imagine they were yours.
- Not content to stall on reunification, the Trump administration* this week proposed changes to the Flores Settlement Agreement of 1997, the consent decree that keeps immigrant children from being held for more than twenty days. This would open the door to longer detentions and many more detention camps.
- Trump threatened to add an additional $267B in tariffs on China, which would extend the tariffs to nearly everything we import from them. Apple said it would cause them to raise prices.
- White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told Republican donors that candidates who were unlikeable, like Ted Cruz, could lose this fall. Go, Beto, go!
We have about eight weeks until the November election. It’s not hyperbole to say that we’re in a fight for our country’s survival. Every day that Trump is unrestrained, we are all at risk. Will you join us and work to win this critical battle?
– Tom Benthin
*indicates highly questionable legitimacy
A reminder: a key resource for tracking all the abnormal events from the past week of the Trump presidency is Amy Siskind’s Weekly List: theweeklylist.org .
Before the disaster of the 2016 election we could follow the events that affected our lives by checking the news or seeing occasional posts on Facebook. Since then, with Trump’s erratic, aggressive and autocratic behavior and the Republicans’ unceasing attacks on our government and their efforts to transfer ever more money from working Americans to the rich, it has become much more difficult – and more important – to find our way through the weekly onslaught of news. To get ourselves grounded in the facts and to prepare for the week of action ahead, we provide this weekly summary of critical events to help us cut through the distractions and stay focused and informed as we fight to preserve our democracy.