“I think apologizing is a great thing—but you have to have been wrong…I will apologize in the distant future if I am ever wrong.”-Trump
I am a former elected official (and x- Republican) in a deep South state. Most of my friends are conservatives. Many believe in the disingenuous “deep state conspiracy” theory pushed by right wingers. I absolutely do not.
I do support a number of Trump’s general positions, including: recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; increasing vetting of immigrants from nations not sharing our democratic values; getting Europe to pay its fair share in NATO; making certain that trade deals are positive for the USA; emphasizing blue collar job creation; and generally putting American long range interests ahead of those of other nations with which we negotiate.
But I just cannot stand President Trump. Why? Because Trump is a totalitarian bully who has little regard for democracy.
Carl Bernstein of Washington Post/Watergate fame appeared on CNN last year (2-7-18). Surprisingly, he castigated the media for fixating on the then GOP controlled House Intelligence Committee. Instead, he suggested that more time be devoted to analyzing the move towards dictatorship by our President. He made the case for directly comparing Trump to infamous former Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin. Since last February, the comparison has only become clearer.
Most of us were not around in the 1950s, the McCarthy reign of terror. For those not familiar with what went on, I will very briefly summarize the controversial events surrounding that era.
McCarthy was prominent during the Cold War period immediately after WW II, when the USA was swept by anti-communist hysteria. McCarthy played on these feelings, appealing to the frighten masses, especially those in the GOP base. Sound familiar?
Bigotry was another aspect of the McCarthy era. McCarthy disproportionately persecuted Jews and homosexuals, convenient scapegoats during that time period (similar to Muslims and Hispanics today). Hypocritically, McCarthy’s Chief Council and right hand was the despicable but brilliant Roy Cohn, a closeted gay Jew who was recommended to McCarthy by closeted J. Edgar Hoover.
In 1950, he attacked the State Department for supposedly being “infested by Communists” (untrue), and falsely claimed he had a list of over 200 traitors. Over the next few years, he hurled more unfounded charges. In 1953, the Republican controlled Senate made McCarthy Chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of Governmental Operations. On 2-6-54, McCarthy accused the Democrats of “twenty years of treason.” Sound familiar?
Also, in 1954, he decided to question the patriotism of the US Army in televised hearings. He came off as an aggressive, demeaning bully who slandered people without any regard to the truth.
President Eisenhower’s disapproval of McCarthy and his methods was clear, especially after these hearings. After public sentiment had grown very negative, McCarthy finally was called to account for his actions by the Senate which voted to censure him.
McCarthy had proved amazingly little but was very aggressive. He used smear tactics to ruin the reputation and lives of hundreds of innocent people, including everyday Americans and civil servants as well as elected officials opposing him. For four years, he was largely supported by a GOP leadership who knew full well that he was totally wrong… but was afraid to anger their motivated base. Sound familiar?
From 1973 on, Roy Cohn was young Trump’s mentor. It is widely believed that Cohn (who was disbarred before his death of AIDS in 1986) taught him Cohn’s barely legal, unethical, never retreat, take no prisoners, attack strategy. Maybe that is why it is relatively easy to see the parallels between Trump and McCarthy.
But, McCarthy was only a Senator. We now have a President using many of the same tactics, even asking “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” when he gets into problems (although now he has found Bill Barr, “his” lawyer rather than AG of the USA).
Trump has also taken off after the State Department, which he clearly does not support and ignores regarding policy making. Maybe that accounts for his glaring diplomatic failures with Korea, Iran and the Taliban.
But Trump has designated his primary foe as the intelligence community, part of the ”deep state”. The CIA and FBI have committed the unpardonable sin of honestly investigating how the Russians influenced our 2016 presidential election… including who within the Trump campaign, family and Administration colluded with that hostile nation against us.
With the Mueller report issued, and largely ignored or misinterpreted by his supporters, Trump is fighting back. He’s hitting below the belt, demanding that AG Barr investigate the civil servants merely doing their job and trying to protect our nation from foreign espionage. And, his buddy Moscow Mitch is holding up legislation designed to halt Russian influence in 2020 elections.
After one State of the Union address, Trump even accused Democrats of being “un-American” and “treasonous” for failing to enthusiastically applaud him. Sound familiar?
Many observers, myself included, expected all along that Trump would refuse to testify before Mueller, give the “I can’t recall excuse” on written answers and eventually pardon underlings at the end of his Presidency. The real question that remains is: “without an Ike to lead the way, what will the GOP Senate ever do about our modern-day McCarthy and his clear obstruction of justice?”
The Democrats are currently building the obvious case for impeachment. There’s no doubt that if Pelosi ever lets it get to a House vote, Trump will be impeached. It is up to all of us, Republicans as well as Democrats and Independents, to protest Trump’s authoritarian behavior and place pressure on McConnell, who’s up for re-election in 2020, to finally put his nation before his party and support removal of Trump from office. We Americans are better than this.
Editor's Note: Portions of the story first appeared at Gwinnett Forum.
Image Credit: The Trump chatting with his favorite attorney Roy Cohn during Senate Subcommittee hearings on the McCarthy-Army disputes is composite photo created for LikeTheDew.com from the original photo you can find on Wikipedia.org as it is in the public domain – United Press International telephoto - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3c14995; the Trump face and hair is a White House photo (public domain - parody/fair use) via Wikipedia.org.