scandal drama

Donald Trump finger pointing caricature by DonkeyHotey

Despite the “never, ever, ever give up” language in Donald Trump’s recent disaster of a commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy it takes little imagination to picture him suddenly resigning from office. Although a majority of Americans would like to see him depart for his golf courses permanently as quickly as possible, an excruciating slow motion departure from office would be more beneficial.

Beyond the raw entertainment value of watching a ridiculous narcissist get his comeuppance, there are three good reasons to hope that the current occupant of the White House is dragged out kicking and screaming after a protracted legal struggle rather than make a dignified exit.

The first reason is that it will show that the United States of America remains, in John Adams’s immortal characterization, “a nation of laws and not men.” Watching this presidency abrade against the constitution until friction stops it entirely will be a powerful lesson in the power of our venerable liberal democratic institutions to resist abuses of power. If we are lucky, every American will see the rule of law triumph over crass wealth and extreme partisanship.

The second reason to prefer a painful excision is that it will help to educate Americans about contemporary international affairs. Much of the commentary and public reaction to Russiagate has revealed how little many know about contemporary world politics, and especially about the threat posed by the kleptocractic dictatorships ruling most of the post-Soviet successor states. Americans have a lot to learn about the world as it actually is and that will require acceptance of unhappy truths, such as the following: The Middle East cannot be policed by the United States acting unilaterally, and perhaps not even multilaterally. Strategic patience remains the best of the poor choices in dealing with North Korea. Faux scientific denial is a dilatory tactic that makes responding to climate change much more expensive in the long term. Closing borders to trade and migration in response to the problems of economic and social globalization is counterproductive. Most important is the unhappy truth that there are no simple solutions to the complex problems of global governance.

The third reason to hope that the unfolding drama of Russiagate is time-consuming and emotionally draining is that it will force responsible leaders in the two major parties to confront the irrational elements that have emerged on their ideological extremes. After decades of playing to some of the worst impulses of the electorate, including religious extremism, racism, and anti-government paranoia, Republican elites lost control of their party to an authoritarian movement led by Donald Trump. Republican elites will need to learn how to talk sense to voters rather than appeal to fear and selfishness if they are going to redeem the party of Lincoln. Democratic elites haven’t lost control of their party and confront a more fragmented collection of irrational currents: bitter ‘never Hillary’ former supporters of Bernie Sanders who now make common cause with the fringiest of Green Party activists and the ‘America is always in the wrong’ followers of Glenn Greenwald and Noam Chomsky. Where the ideological extremes meet is in denying that the Kremlin successfully interfered in the 2016 general election. To believe otherwise would require recognizing foreign rather than domestic political enemies.

What we may learn over the course of a lengthy Russiagate scandal drama – the betrayal of national security to the Kremlin and business dealings with post-Soviet oligarchs – will be an eye-opener for many Americans. The inevitable temptation to turn away from the ugliness and find some quick resolution should be resisted because the opportunity to learn from a mistake as enormous as the presidency of Donald Trump may not come along again in the life of this republic.

My favorite aphorism of Benjamin Franklin is this: “Experience keeps a dear school, but some will learn in no other.” Since we have already paid the tuition for this educational experience, we should derive the maximum benefit. Here’s hoping Donald Trump refuses a dignified exit.


Image: Donald Trump finger pointing caricature by DonkeyHotey via Flickr and used under a Creative Commons license.
John Hickman

John Hickman

John Hickman is Professor of Political Science in the Department of Government and International Studies at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, where he teaches courses on war crimes, comparative politics, and research methods. He holds both a PH.D. in political science from the University of Iowa and a J.D. from Washington University, St. Louis. Hickman is the author of the 2013 Florida University Press book Selling Guantanamo.

  1. Lee Leslie

    Thanks, John. No matter how long it takes or how it turns, it is sure to be painful.

  2. In a 2003 article titled “Bush In Baghdad – Far From Honest,” Mr. Hickman spoke of the “vulnerability” of Americans who “become sentimental and careless during the holidays;” and how that vulnerability sets the stage to enable a Politician to make things fly during that time of the year. (Oh yeah – just like on New Year’s Eve 2011, when Obama signed the “NDAA;” although he vowed he would not? He was betting that no one would notice cause it was New Year’s Eve.) Mr. Hickman closed that 2003 article with this statement:
    “Perhaps we ought to begin 2004 with a more serious individual commitment–resolving
    to reject rank nonsense whenever we hear it from politicians.”

    Which is precisely what I did, Mr. Hickman; with everything that came out of Hillary Clinton’s mouth – during the Benghazi Hearings; during the Email investigation hearings with Congress. Particularly disgraceful and reprehensible, was when she lied to the families over the flag-draped coffins of their loved ones that were killed in Benghazi – the loved ones that Hillary refused to admit culpability for, regarding their deaths.

    The same Hillary Clinton that swore under the penalty of perjury, numerous falsifications – oh, shoot – why sugar-coat it? Let’s call them what they were: blatant, orchestrated lies; about the whole Email fiasco. At the core of which was Hillary’s purposeful installation and subsequent use of that private server in her house; over which she transmitted countless communiques that were “Classified” and “Top Secret.” Michael McCaul, the House Chairman for Homeland Security, stated that Hillary put the security of America,Americans, and men & women serving overseas, at grave risk – and he felt she had committed the crime of Treason by doing so.*

    All of that said Mr. Hickman – you would have preferred we had Hillary at the helm with a tarnished history like that? And the misdoings I’ve mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that she was the only alternative to Trump that we were offered. You can ridicule Donald Trump till you’re blue in the face, Mr. Hickman – but anything you can conjure up on Trumpl pales in comparison to the extraordinary dastardly deeds Clinton has carried out during her entire political career. Oh – and her sterling performance during her tenure as Secretary of State? Off the top of my head, I’m recalling how she was ordered to sign a document prior to being hired for that position; promising she would not involve State Department business with Clinton Foundation business. And what did she do? She turned right around and betrayed her own word: repeatedly received “donations” to her foundation for State Department favors delivered to entities; foreign and domestic.

    And, your mention of “Russiagate,” Mr. Hickman – odd choice of descriptors, there – it brings to mind the countless investigations into Clinton activity during their entire political career. Where do I start??! To mention just a few, there was: “Chinagate,” “Travelgate,” “Pardongate,” Mena Airport Drug Traffic Ring; “Hillarycare,” “Whitewater Investigation,” “Vince Foster’s suspicious death,”(that has recently surfaced again); Hillary’s 2000 Senate bid & Election Fraud; IRS abuses she instigated against Bill’s female accusers for his sexual harrassment; the orchestrated efforts and success of the DNC and Hillary’s campaign teams to undermine Bernie Sanders in the primaries – committing again; election fraud. Shawn Lucas, Victor Thorn, John Ashe, and Seth Rich – all with close
    ties to the Clintons and the DNC.

    Hillary Clinton is New World Order, she is Globalism, she is TPP, NAFTA, she was a strong proponent of the dreaded Agenda 21 (in which “Population Reduction” was an integral part) – and she advocated War. She stated publicly: “I WILL provoke war with Russia.” And, oh yeah – Russia. If I recall correctly, didn’t she sell a bunch of Uranium to Russia? Is your answer “yes” or “yes?” Is this the “Russiagate” you are referring to?!

    All I perceived for your reason for wanting Trump out, is that he’s a Narcissist and what you refer to as “the continuing unfolding drama of Russiagate” – which is nothing definitive. The reason why I devoted so much of my post to Clinton’s activities is when you compare your personal dissatisfactions with Trump to all the stuff she actually has done – all I have to say is, “Really?? That’s all you can drum up on him? C’mon!” Oh, and it’s noteworthy to mention that you were the Faculty Advisor for the Young Democrats at Berry College from 1994-2009 – revealing that you are completely ensconced in things “Democrat” – so it follows that your bias is deep-seated. When I learned that, it became very clear to me why you are so set against Trump – because you presented nothing substantial against him in this article. Like I’ve already said, anything you can conjure up on Trump pales in comparison to the only other choice we were given for President 2016. There’s a reason why the Electoral College chose Trump – and your notion that “a majority of Americans” want him to step down is misguided – the majority I encounter favor him. That you are hoping Trump “refuses a dignified exit” is not only extremely presumptuous, it is just plain mean-spirited, and says a lot about your character – I would think a Professor would choose to set a more admirable example for his students by supporting our President like Americans are supposed to. And look on the bright side, Mr. Hickman: if Hillary had prevailed, we’d probably be neck-deep in a war with Russia by now!

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