Most politicians aren’t stupid. We like to say they are. It’s one of the first attempts at a takedown of an elected official. They’re either stupid, insane, evil or a combination thereof.
The reality is that many of them are lawyers, come from great educational backgrounds and are quite intelligent. But mainly, they’re clever. The ones you like and the ones you don’t all have to be sharp to stay in office.
It’s impossible to tell the truth to millions of people and have it go well. You can’t even pull it off at the family dinner table without causing a fight. So many politicians lie, or shade the truth, or give frustratingly almost-answers to direct questions. That’s the lawyer/huckster thing. It’s offensive and they know it. They also know you’re used to it by now and that not only will you take it, you will vote for them again, resigned to their opacity.
Politicians are shape-shifting pugilists who must think election to election to stay afloat. Many of them will do almost any damn thing to stay in office until they have prepared their private-sector nest. But of all the elected officials in America today, one is getting played harder than his hubris and self-absorption will ever allow himself to understand. He doesn’t get it.
I’m willing to bet that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell were sincerely happy about comrade Trump’s victory, but not for the reasons they’ve given publicly. Not only do they have a Republican in office — which, no matter who it was, would be better than a Democrat — but none of the other candidates who were eliminated over the grueling months of the campaign would have been such a flat-footed dupe as the man who won.
In comrade Trump, his mutant family and demented/inept cabinet, they have found the perfect distraction by which they can advance their agenda with great speed. I know that the Comey/Mueller/Kushner/Flynn/Kislyak show is fun to watch, but what do you think will come of the investigation? That someone will go to jail? That you will get to see the smirk on Sessions’ face fall so fast he’ll get whiplash?
I doubt any of that’s going to happen. Trump gets jammed up on charges, President Pence pardons him, à la Ford pardoning Nixon. If any of the sidemen go down, they will wriggle out à la Oliver North, with convictions eventually reversed and a book deal inked.
There is nothing the GOP heavyweights would like you to do more than watch every embarrassing, catastrophic move Trump makes as they get busy in other parts of the building. Any further gaffes that Trump will perpetrate, which seems to be minute-to-minute, can be smoothed over in back-channel communications. Every leader in the world knows that Trump is a lightweight, easily goaded — in other words, the perfect mark. In Las Vegas terms, a whale. They see guys like him coming from miles off and have everything in place to take it all.
This is how the GOP is playing the American people as they crassly move a health care disaster bill through the Senate. They’re doing it on your watch but not in your face. As I said, they’re clever. Meanwhile, smarter, more insidious voter-suppression methods are being employed to wreak havoc in 2018.
Vladimir Putin — or the Butcher of Chechnya, as I like to call him — is an enemy of every good person in the United States. What he has been able to get away with in Russia, we will never know nearly the full extent of. Nadya and Masha of Pussy Riot got off easy. They’re still alive. Look up what happened to one of the greatest journalists of our time, Anna Politkovskaya. Putin is the baddest of the proverbial “bad hombres” on America’s radar. However, even he can’t rival the hurt that the GOP wants to put on millions of Americans via Trumpcare and voter suppression.
They could very well get away with all of this. Meanwhile, we’re plugging up our ears with shows about Watergate. That’s an amazing story, but thems were different times. Media wasn’t a profit-based concern and even the staunchest conservatives couldn’t stomach what Nixon was serving up. Robert Bork stupidly took Tricky Dick’s bait in the resulting cover-up attempt and you know where that landed him. Not even Reagan could get Bork on the Supreme Court. Words mattered, laws mattered, the Constitution mattered. It all mattered. It mattered more than party, more than an administration.
For now, that’s not how it is. That being the case, it’s not the time to take your eye off the other hand.
Sure, Trump is easily the best political spectator sport of my lifetime at least. He makes George W. Bush, a man I have grown to feel sorry for over the years, seem semirational, with a fair number of words in his random access memory. If you drill down, even a little bit, you can see that Dubya wasn’t a bad guy as much as someone who wandered into the maelstrom of the military industrial complex. He made a few people rich and got a lot of people killed.
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Watching Trump blow out is like watching a stand-up comedian give his last performance on a ship’s deck, right after it hit the iceberg. It’s a tough laugh but it’s there. However, there are much, much worse things afoot in America and they’re happening right now, in broad daylight.
More from the mind of Henry Rollins:
White America Couldn't Handle What Black America Deals With Every Day
Bowie's Blackstar Is on the Level of Low and Heroes
No Matter Who Wins, America Is Only Going to Get Angrier