Do you ever feel like you are in a movie?
I do right now, except that if any screenwriter attempted to capture and put down on paper the current state of our government no studio would greenlight it. The whole situation is simply too bizarre.
I fell into movie unreality mode last week when Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director. Scaramucci could have walked off the big screen, only in a movie by Martin Scorcese instead of Woody Allen. Profane and verbally violent, Scaramucci lasted only ten days in the job. I’m sad to see him go, sort of: he was amusing in the darkly nasty way that so much of the Trump White House is, at least if you don’t think too hard about the implications of their actions.
While Scarmucci merely looked the part of a gangster, his boss demonstrated a willingness to engage in the tactics used by the criminals in every mob movie. Following her vote against several iterations of Trumpcare, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (as well as Alaska’s other senator, Dan Sullivan) received a call from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who told her that Alaska would face consequences for her independence. As Rachel Maddow put it, “Nice state you got there… it’d be a shame if anything happened to it.” (Alaskans are tough; I have no doubt that Murkowski will be fine.)
We have known for six months now that Trump does not understand the separation of powers. We get handed more and more evidence every day that he neither understands nor respects the rule of law. The attempted shakedown of Alaska is just one more example.
This is how the man ran his business. People who crossed him, who said no, who stood up for themselves, were threatened. In 1984, Trump used undocumented Polish immigrant workers in the construction of Trump Tower. He paid them half the prevailing union wage and only a little above minimum wage. When the lawyer representing the workers placed mechanics liens on the building for unpaid wages, Trump threatened to sue him for $100 million for filing unwarranted liens. When that didn’t work, he tried to have the workers deported.*
Given his insistence on ignoring ethics rules, not to mention engaging in unbridled nepotism, his fury at the Attorney General taking the proper and ethical course by recusing himself from the Russia investigation, and most of all his campaign’s possible — probable? — collusion with Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump makes Richard “When the President Does It, That Means It’s Not Illegal” Nixon look like a piker.
None of this is news. Unless you have been blissfully living in the woods somewhere with no media exposure (lucky you!), you should know what this man is like. Every day he goes further and further along the road of despotism. He will soon be a penny-ante Vladimir Putin. Perhaps luckily for us, he lacks the competence to be a first-rate Vladimir Putin.
And every day, as our democracy seemingly inches towards mild totalitarianism, I am deeply saddened by the number of my fellow citizens who are more than willing to overlook the destructive path we are on. Myriads of pixels have been expounded on why Trump supporters remain steadfast; I can’t understand it, and I’m not sure I even have the wherewithal to try anymore. I can’t help but be appalled that these people, so many who screamed “lock her up!” about Hillary Clinton, do not care about being led by a man who views the law as something that only applies to other people. (Given how the law has been written over the years to screw them over, perhaps this is not surprising.) It seems that for many of my fellow citizens, we are no longer a nation of laws.
It is all about the man: many of his supporters want a Messiah, not a President, and are willing to overlook any flaws, forgive any defects in their chosen leader.**
God help us all.
*I usually find the Food Network’s Geoffrey Zakarian annoying. The man won mad props from me, though, after he pulled out of the lease for his restaurant which was slated to be opened in the Trump hotel in the Old Post Office, following Trump’s statements about Mexicans being rapists and murderers. Trump sued for $10 million, of course. Zakarian stated that Trump’s behavior would make it difficult to run a profitable restaurant. In his deposition in the case, Trump stated that the opposite was true: now that he was president, a lot of people would want to eat there. I hate to ever agree with Trump, but he’s right: given how popular the hotel has been with foreign dignitaries — not that they would be seeking to influence the President of the United States or anything — I feel sure a restaurant there would have a healthy business, at least while Trump was president. The suit settled for an undisclosed sum, and there is no restaurant in the area where Zakarian’s would have been.
** You see this on the left as well: the more fanatical Bernie Bots showed similar inclination to overlook their candidate’s flaws: if their guy didn’t win, it didn’t matter who did, and they were more than willing to drag the rest of us down with them.