I write today (Feb.2, 2018) in the shadow of the declassification and release of the much-hyped memo crafted by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Trump-Russia connection. I’ve read the memo. It’s a “nothing-burger.” No wonder the GOPers refused to release the Democratic version. Standing alone, the Republicans' missive looks silly. Standing beside a Democratic treatment, it might look downright stupid. Nonetheless, we’ll likely have a week or so for their version to pollute the mediasphere before the Dems' can publicize their version.
Meanwhile, here’s my take on the august and storied Republican party:
Depraved is not too strong a word, I’ve decided. Not too strong a word, that is, to describe the current state of “the party of Lincoln” as revealed daily now in the halls of Washington. This truth first hit me in the head some time ago, on June 12, 2017, to be exact. That was the day of the Great Stalin Style Cabinet Chorus of Praise. (Or was it the MaoTse Tung Style? … Or more trendily perhaps, the Kim Jong Un Style? Anyway, one of those guys.) Trump sat, smirking vacuously as each attendee sang his praises.
Chris Cillizza of CNN ranked the hapless speakers by “just how obsequious their encomiums to Trump actually were.” (Like Trump, Chris has a lot of good words, maybe even the “best words,” and some of his might send a few folks to the dictionary.) The winner of Chris’s obsequiousness sweepstakes was Vice President Mike Pence with, “It is just the greatest privilege of my life is (sic) to serve as the—as vice president to the President who’s keeping his word to the American people and assembling a team that’s bringing real change, real prosperity, real strength back to our nation.”
My personal favorite was #6 on Chris’s list: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, whose remarks, though imperfectly captured, epitomized the faithful sycophant. “Mr. President, last week was a great (inaudible),” she said. “It was infrastructure week. Thank you so much for coming over to the Department of Transportation. Hundreds and hundreds of
people were just so thrilled, hanging out, watching (inaudible) ceremony.”
Thrilled? Hundreds and hundreds of them?
As I said, the word depraved comes to mind.
Bear in mind the people engaged in this exercise, many of them unprepared for the cabinet posts they held, were scarcely beholden to Trump for life and livelihood. They were, for the most part, millionaires, if not billionaires, and any one of them could have walked out of that meeting, retrieved their self-respect, returned to their real lives, and suffered nary a consequence, financially or otherwise.
And sadly, I believe, they were all smart enough to know what they were doing. So why did they do it? I understand lavish praise is said to be the surest way to get and stay in Trump’s good graces. But this? Sheesh!
The larger, and possibly even more consequential question, is how the Republican party in general and GOP legislators in particular have fallen under the thrall of the least thoughtful, least empathic, most juvenile, ignorant, self-serving, and reckless leader we’ve had in my lifetime. Trump, the outsider, hijacked the party’s pre-primary debates, developed a following with a crass, impulsive style and plopped into office, the second Republican to move into the White House without a majority of the popular vote in this young millennium.
Congressional Republicans long have tended to march in lockstep, often backward-looking, but uncommonly united in legislative pursuits in a way that made them a formidable force as they pushed back against positive social change and enlightened progress. (Think the so-called "tax reform.") Unfortunately, this seems to have rendered them as individuals often incapable of nimble rational thought and bereft of the backbone to stand up to a man they apparently have adopted, however reluctantly, as their own. What is their vision for the future? Returning to the ‘40’s is not a viable option.
February 2, 2018
For the complete text of the memo produced by the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, click here.