For years now it’s been clear to anyone paying attention that Trump is a professional fraud who worked with overseas dictators to subvert our democracy. None of this mattered to his core demographic, aging, under-performing white men insecure about their place in the world. His appeal to his cowardly base was his projection of power. A gold-plated lifestyle studded with porn star hookups and helicopter rides gave him all he needed to keep his supporters in line. Trump is the gangsta rapper of the Golf Digest reader-base, a Marion Barry for white people.
His base doesn’t care that he paid off porn stars. Mega-pastors with a national following lined up to defend his adultery. They don’t care that he raped an under-aged girl and molested a nearly endless string of women. Boys will be boys, after all. Republicans don’t care about Trump’s money-laundering, his fawning adoration of dictators, his destruction of our treaty relationships or the demolition of our trade advantages. His pious, Christian followers love the fact that he’s set up concentration camps for little Honduran children, at long last shielding them from the brown menace.
There’s one thing that could shake Republicans’ faith in their beloved Bully – losing. Losing is bad enough, but nothing is worse than losing to a woman. This week, the trap Trump set for himself snapped shut, and Nancy Pelosi made him look not merely stupid, or rash, or foolish, none of those things matter to Republicans anymore. She made him look weak. Now that the world has seen how feeble and vulnerable Trump is, the sharks are circling.
As bad as the revelations from the Special Counsel investigation have been, Trump remained confident in the support of his base. Legal problems are little concern to an authoritarian leader as long as he can still muster his core supporters. The devastating losses last November were a warning of power diminished, a warning he ignored. The stupid ideology he shared with his supporters lead him to underestimate his enemies. He staged a naked display of power and was shocked by the outcome. Trump was visibly humiliated by a woman, and not in a hot way. Now he’s screwed, and again, not in a hot way.
Trump’s MAGAmorons are rattled, scrambling to assemble “three-dimensional chess” rationalizations, climbing down from prior hopes or, like right wing troll Mike Cernovich, stating the obvious:
His humiliation was punctuated by the arrest of his spirit animal, Roger Stone. This new arrest cuts through the denials about collusion with the Russians through WikiLeaks, but that’s not all.
A single line in the indictment points to the center of this investigation. From page 4 of the indictment:
“a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE…”
That beautifully crafted phrase describes criminal activities by three people, though only one of them is given a name. The “senior Trump Campaign official” is almost certainly Steve Bannon, who went to Special Prosecutor early and spilled his guts. Remember, Bannon stated in his book that the Mueller investigation would focus on Trump’s money laundering more than election interference. It would be interesting to know where he gained that insight. The third person hanging in the passive tense over that line is the only person who could have instructed the campaign “CEO” to commit a crime, Donald J Trump, also known as “Individual 1.”
Pelosi wasted no time, capitalizing on the Stone revelations with this accusatory Tweet.
It’s a move that instantly delegitimizes the President, placing those who support him on notice of what to expect. If Trump colluded with the Russians to destroy our democratic institutions, then how should we characterize Mitch McConnell’s behavior over the past two years? Should McConnell return the campaign donations he’s received from the Russians? There’s blood in the water.
Trump needed the solid support of his base to hold off the consequences of his crimes. Last week’s humiliation undermined that critical support. Displays of weakness are the Kryptonite of authoritarians. When a bully fails, toadies become unpredictable. The same people who cheered Mussolini to power hung his corpse upside down from the roof of a gas station.
Trump knows few things, but he understands the danger of weakness. He’ll stage even crazier, more desperate stands over the coming weeks in a frenzied effort to recover some stature. Being an idiot facing off against enemies far cleverer and better prepared, those efforts are likely to compound into a tornado of failure, with significant collateral damage.
Some ambitious Republican toady will probably smell the chum and make a move. If they do, we should resist the urge to venerate them. It’s too late for Republican courage. Whatever Republicans do now to rid us of Trump is pure opportunism, staged for their own self-preservation. In this late stage, it is vital to insure that the people whose cowardice enabled Trump are destroyed along with him. Feed them to the sharks. All of them.