by Conrad Black
It is astonishing to see the ferocity, and breathless, stertorous rage of the Trump-hating media over Michael Cohen’s flip. Because the whole issue is such nonsense, it is also reassuring to see Trump’s enemies place their heads on the block with such determination, beseeching by their outrageous falsehoods the executioner’s stroke to expose their lies and hate. There they are since there is no case against the president sufficiently serious to threaten his completion of his term.
I am one of the last people who would claim any standing to opine on the motives and tactics for the Trump-haters to push in all their chips on this charge about payments to an amiable porn star and a Playboy bunny emerita. The president’s most strident enemies in the media have cranked themselves up to a fever of simulated moral superiority many times: it is a mnemonic feat to recall their innumerable charges to the barricades these last two years. Almost no one now remembers Michael Wolff’s inane book, or even Bob Woodward’s pastiche of fabrications and malicious gossip. But this is a home run.
Apart from its extreme vehemence, what is most striking about this latest oceanic heaving of obloquy on the president is that the Democrats have called in their heaviest serviceable units. The Clintons, and former intelligence chiefs John Brennan and James Clapper are too vulnerable and have a great deal more exposure to legal problems than the president does, and their comparative discretion is tactically wise.
But now Doris Kearns Goodwin, a respected, if very partisan, historian has thrown her hat in on the side of impeachment. In doing so, she told the faithful devotees of CNN that the atmosphere at the White House was worse than at any time since the 1850s, and reminded the viewers that that decade culminated in the Civil War.
She must have contracted amnesia from listening to James Comey’s recent professions of inconvenient memory lapses. The atmosphere around the White House was not so terrible in the 1850s, though the standard of leadership from presidents Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan was poor. Goodwin cannot have forgotten the endless riots and demonstrations of the Lyndon Johnson Administration, which she chronicled capably and whose chief personality she well knew. Nor could she have forgotten the bloodless assassination of Richard Nixon, still the great feather in the caps of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, unmitigated fiction though most of the self-righteous ire against Nixon was. The waters were pretty roiled when Bill Clinton became the only president since Andrew Johnson in 1868 to be impeached and tried by the Senate.
These endless cyclonic attacks on Trump have moved most of the polls 1 or 2 percent, but have not undercut the strength of his support. And it is hard to see what more the Democrats can do—all their tame commentators are wagging their heads and tongues and fingers as strenuously and constantly as they can.
The academics are all in. The elected Democratic hate-leaders are all in. The tenacity of the swamp-dwellers is formidable, and demands respect. They have ruled the country with their front feet in the trough essentially since Ronald Reagan rode into the sunset more than 20 years ago, but there is no indication that the decay and failure of their stewardship has reduced in the slightest their assurance of their moral right to rule and to destroy anyone who would challenge them, especially this, admittedly very provoking enemy.
Their tenacity and imperviousness to the enormity of their responsibility for the greatest economic disaster in the world in 80 years, the endless fruitless wars in the Middle East, the humanitarian disasters, the admission of many millions of illiterate peasants illegally, lurching incoherence in foreign policy, and the failure to deal with health care, immigration, infrastructure—it all sits lightly on them, as they decry the interloper as a menace to America and the world.
Even Professor Jonathan Turley and Judge Andrew Napolitano, who are not anti-Trump, and are serious legal experts, are fanning the flames somewhat by touting the possibility of an impeachment charge on the payments to the aggrieved alleged former sexual intimates of the president. I have no standing to debate with them on legal points, but none of this is a high crime or misdemeanor as the Constitution requires for removal of a president. The Republican Senate, with a closely divided public opinion, is not going to eject a president for the first time in history on this nonsense composed by the prosecutors of greed, sleaze, the key-hole, and the plea bargain.
The greatest disappointment of all, among those legions I have seen dragooned before the television cameras from the history-writing community is Jon Meacham. The last editor of Newsweek, who piloted the suicide mission of trying to keep the magazine going with nothing but opinion pieces, is a competent historian, but is now chiefly the house spokesman of the Bush family. He informed the usual cast of ciphers on CNN that it was entirely possible that the incumbent president is guilty of treason. When the singular madness of Trumpophobia grips even a fairly reputable biographer of presidents of both parties, the sickness is severe and possibly mortal to its carriers. This isn’t just those who fear eviction from the cozy world of the decaying and inept political elite, or those nauseated by Trump’s schtick; this is a substantial person leveling the most lethal of all possible allegations, betrayal of the country. There is not one scrap of evidence for such a charge.
If Trump’s enemies are so transported by their hatred, fear and revulsion, (and all can be understood up to a point), that they actually railroad a count of impeachment through the House and to the Senate, it will die, and its authors, politically, will die with it. The impeachment case against President Clinton was unjustified, but there was some question of perjury. This is just hysterical enemies talking and screaming to themselves like coyotes into a festival of death, but it is still nonsense and the death will be theirs. It is time to finish this.
Mueller obviously, in his unfathomable self-importance, thinks he can keep his fatuous investigation going for years more. Ironically, he may soon incur the wrath of his Democratic allies: they can’t launch impeachment without him, and they won’t be able to maintain the jackal media in a howling rage of blood-lust indefinitely on the thin gruel from Stormy and the Bunny.
If Trump’s enemies have more tactical intelligence than they’ve shown up to now, they will get Mueller to do his unctuous and self-righteous best, and drop it in withering sarcasm and crestfallen disappointment at the president’s turpitude.
But they have to put up or shut up soon: impeach and lose or drop it and pretend moral exaltation. This confected drama is too oppressive to go on indefinitely.
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Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, one-volume histories of the United States and Canada, and most recently of Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. He is a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour.