Tell me something I don’t know. I’m dividing my attention between impeachment and Governor Baker’s State of the Commonwealth, which generated more questions than answers in my mind …
There is one conclusion that is a certainty: The Republican Party, in the House and Senate, has wrapped its arms around Trump’s betrayal of country; and his corruption; and his endless lies; and his vindictiveness. They will forever be associated; and if we survive long enough to still have history, it will remember them as shamed and guilty.
And so I find myself, in the moment, agreeing with jconway that we have under-valued harm reduction. I certainly don’t like Biden’s history of centrist straddling on Social Security, or crime; or his long work as a bagman for the credit card industry. I don’t trust Buttigieg’s McKinsey-opportunist mentality. But these are ordinary, ambitious people. They’re not special, or especially wicked; they’re simply the kind of people who run for president. We will at least survive them, and maybe even do better, with the due application of public pressure.
PBS’s “American Experience” recently had a terrific documentary on Joe McCarthy. McCarthy had cowed the entire political establishment into a defensive submission — including a war hero President. And yet, by June of 1954, when Joseph Welch asked him, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” McCarthy had already been hitting the bottle pretty hard. Less than three years later, McCarthy, a newlywed and father to a young child, was dead from alcoholism. I think that in his heart of hearts, Joe McCarthy did have a shred of decency. There was a dissonance, and the dissonance killed him. It’s a Greek tragedy, really.
The lesson for the GOP — from McCarthy, even more from Nixon, and then Iran Contra — has been to try to jettison the shame. It wasn’t doing them any good, after all. Trump, as we can observe, has absolutely no sense of decency, no shame. He’s pure in that way; it’s his superpower. He famously doesn’t drink; he doesn’t need to. But I really wonder how much dissonance the rest of the GOP can stand. How many of those folks are hitting the bottle, because they know that what they’re doing is vile, and unpatriotic, and corrupt?
It’s the job of patriotic Americans to heighten that sense of dissonance, to make it ring in the ears and burn with shame. Again, we act like the Republicans are scorpions, that they can’t help it, it’s in their nature. What if they do know better, but just can’t admit it now — in for a dime, in for a dollar? What if we don’t take their arguments and protestations and antics at face value? What if we call out the fear that they feel? How do we stage an intervention?
They do know better. They just won’t do better. The intervention is in November.