Punch-drunk and reeling, Trump bides for time and stokes political violence…
Ready. Fire. Aim.
The picture is getting a little clearer now. Donald Trump is thought to be flailing in anticipation of the DOJ’s looming indictment. His depleted staff of lawyers appears to be out of their depth against the government’s powers. Paranoia has replaced the other “P” word at the ‘Lago. The talk of moles and traitors would send shivers through lesser men, but it only emboldens the ex-president to take to his “Truth” social media platform and unleashed a new tack-one, no doubt, he has conjured alone without the advice of his team of lawyers. It includes a rant about Hunter Biden(!! ) and a last-ditch effort at a judicial gambit, a wing, and a prayer. He’ll see if “his judges” will provide a remedy for what “his generals” and 84 million-plus American voters denied him:
REMEDY: Declare the rightful winner or, and this would be the minimal solution, declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Election, immediately!” (all emphasis his)
Crazy, right? Madness! There is little doubt that Trump has passed that bright line separating sane from crazed long ago. Trump’s “remedy” is to simply nullify a free and fair election and declare himself president — because he says so. Doubling down is his signature “move,” the one trick this pony has in his repertoire.
Like the embattled Rocky Balboa in the Stallonean series of unlikely outcomes, Trump keeps punching. And like the Balboa character, there is a sense of inevitability he lives by. His plan is to counterpunch after each devastating blow by his opponent. The law of diminishing returns escapes him while he stumbles chin first into his opponent’s next blow, eager to return it. As his defenses collapse it looks like the one last straw he is grasping at wears a judicial robe inscribed with a gilt-threaded “T”. The courts have, for the most part, dismantled his earlier claims of an illegal search at Mar-a-Lago on August 8. Courts have also denied in more than 60 judicial decisions his arguments that the election was rigged, stolen, or otherwise denied him. As a referee of last resort, it would appear that Trump is listening for the bell and watching for someone to toss in a towel. Trump clings to a hope that somewhere, someone, will manufacture a win for him-and he may be going for a most unlikely source, an overturned election:
“It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged ‘attorney-client’ material, and also ‘executive’ privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken,”
“By copy of this TRUTH, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken,Thank you!”
— Donald Trump, on Truth Social, August 28, 2022
He needs an argument that both delays this investigation, and could lead to a final decision in his favorite judicial arena, the Supreme Court. That is what is left to him, and like a punch-drunk palooka headed for the ropes, he covers up. His argument would be that as the “rightful president” he still could lay claim to the powers of executive privilege. He clings to this. In Greek and Roman drama, a resolution brought about by a plot device known as deus ex machina is a staple. The ancients solved their irresolvable plot twists by lowering a “god from a machine “ who would wave away the complications and artificially impose a solution that is accepted by the dumbstruck characters and pleases their audience. Trump seems to be borrowing from the tradition and looking toward the heavens.
The nation is in a most precarious position trying to defend the indefensible as Trump’s senseless onslaught on democracy proves to be unrelenting. So much so, that this ploy, claiming the presidency and executive privilege by fiat to cover all his subsequent crimes may actually be the penultimate solution in his crime-addled mind- a precursor to the riots promised by acolytes and bootlickers like Lindsey Graham. The threat of violence is a final call for a “contrived solution” a god from the machine to resolve their dispute- by force.
The nation, and especially his base, has been groomed for this eventuality since Trump decided to run for office. It began with chants of “fake news” and “lock her up,” shamanic chants that riled instead of soothed the inner grievances of mobs attracted to Trump’s many dog-whistles. Immigrants, black and brown folks, gays and women all provided convenient targets for those who feel aggrieved by their own shortcomings. For them, “making America great again” is code for “we’re being replaced, now what?” These are the same folks who would protest “share the road” and pick up after your dog” signs for being overly woke. They ban a woman’s right to choose alongside books they would never even think to read. For them, taking what you want is deemed manly, asking for what you may need, an admission of weakness.
The mob that Graham calls to violence on Trump’s behalf cheered him when he was caught bragging about “grabbing” women. They were there in Charlottesville when the white supremacists marched chanting about “blood and soil” and “The South will rise again.” They are the revisionists of lost causes. On January 6, the mob whetted their appetite for violence once again, once again answering his call to save his sorry ass. It didn’t work- and here we are. They are out there listening now as their leader pretends to be a victim- again, just like them.
Trump’s “movement” has passed the tipping point of rational dispute. His cult-like hold over his mob is likely now a permanent affliction for many of his followers. The hold he has over the Republican Party leaders like Graham has not yet surfaced but no doubt lurks somewhere- among the scribbles and doodles he left on our documents or hidden among still more documents yet to be found.
Donald Trump has shown no conscience or shame, no signs of giving in. Our resolve and that of the DOJ must be no less committed, no less determined to end his influence over our democracy. The Kool-Aid is no longer “cool” — it is spiked and deadly. The “civil war” he threatens and his followers eagerly await is much like the original, hardly “civil” and mostly race-based. For the nation committed to preserving the rights of even those armed with weapons and who threaten violence, their response is a gun pointed back on itself, a suicide pact with reason.
There is talk that the investigation is not over, there may be other documents hidden away, perhaps bartered in trades for wealth and influence. In a classic example of misery inviting company, Trump asks his followers to stop the investigation, to take to the streets, come ready for battle, and wait for his command: “Ready. Fire. Aim.” Our message in response should be a warning and a promise in return, “be careful what you wish for. We know where you live.”