SATURDAY, MAY 14, 2022
It has been for a long time: With apologies, we didn't do a very good job explaining our argument yesterday.
We were discussing the perils involved in the possibility of charging Donald J. Trump (and an array of lesser GOP figures) with a series of crimes.
Should Donald J. Trump be charged with a crime? We can't answer that question.
For starters, we don't know if he has actually committed a crime. Also, we don't know if he has committed a type of crime which can be described to the wider public in a way the wider public will understand.
Some types of crime are quite clearcut. You can't steal someone's wallet or purse. You can't shoot someone on Fifth Avenue.
Other crimes (and constitutional rulings) involve layers of complexification which are very hard to explain—and which may not even make sense. It may be especially hard to explain such matters to the general public when deeply felt policy views, or deeply held political loyalties, are involved.
Criminal charges of that type would generate major backlash. Perhaps such charges should be brought, but this is a tricky and dangerous time.
On Deadline: White House, Nicolle Wallace's "favorite reporters and friends" have been walking the "criminalization" road all through these Trump and post-Trump years. They've been trying to address a serious political problem—How can we persuade people to vote against Donald J. Trump?—by means of criminalization.
For years, they've been asking this question: How we can get Trump locked up? More recently, they've even been asking this related question:
How can we get the candidates we don't like removed from the ballot?
Yesterday, Wallace joined Max Boot in worrying about the fate of "our democracy." In fact, our democracy has been on life support for decades, dating back—let's recall one of the most ridiculous episodes—to the time when the mainstream press corps had a collective nervous breakdown over the fact that a certain candidate for president was wearing three-button suits.
That was an undisguised lunacy of the mainstream press. The mainstream press is a major part of "our democracy"—and we've been detailing such lunacies for the past twenty-four years.
In many respects, "our democracy" has been a tightly-scripted clown show dating at least to 1992. People like Wallace and Boot are never going to tell you that. Neither will the other stars of our own tribe's "corporate cable."
For now, just consider the functioning of "our democracy" and those three-button suits:
In the fall of 1999, two experienced Democratic candidates—Senator Bradley and Vice President Gore—conducted a debate which focused on American health care. It was the first Democratic debate of the 2000 campaign.
At the conservative National Review, the late Kate O'Beirne praised the candidates for their breadth of knowledge. At the Washington Post, Pulitzer winner Mary McGrory started her column as shown:
MCGRORY (10/31/99): Vice President Albert Gore came to his fateful encounter with newly menacing challenger Bill Bradley carrying heavy baggage. He was wearing an outfit that added to his problems when he stepped onstage at Dartmouth College: a brown suit, a gunmetal blue shirt, a red tie—and black boots.
Was it part of his reinvention strategy? Perhaps it was meant to be a ground-leveling statement—"I am not a well-dressed man." It is hard to imagine that he thought to ingratiate himself with the nation's earliest primary voters by trying to look like someone seeking employment at a country music radio station.
McGrory barely mentioned what the candidates had said about health care. Instead, she lambasted Gore's deeply troubling wardrobe, in this and in her next column.
Everyone treated this lunacy as normal. Within "our democracy," things spiraled downward from there, with major mainstream journalists conducting lunatic discussions of every conceivable aspect of Gore's deeply troubling wardrobe.
That included the fact that some of his deeply troubling suit jackets had three buttons, not two. Eventually, one major national figure even sewed a fourth button on!
No, we aren't making that up—and the lunacy came to be even more lunatic than whatever you may be imagining. That was the state of "our democracy" as of the fall of 1999, and all the people our tribe admires knew that they had two choices:
They could play along with this jihad if they chose. But they mustn't notice or mention the lunacy, and they certainly mustn't complain.
Wallace herself has long been part of the threat to "our democracy," dating back to 2004, when she was pimping state ballot measures on same-sex marriage to enhance voter turnout for Bush. That said, "our democracy" has been a joke for decades—but you will never be told such things as corporate cable sells product.
We hope to do better again at this site starting on Monday. According to a string of experts, it won't make a lick of difference. But we'll be trying to find ways to get our time and our focus back.
Should Donald J. Trump be charged with a crime? On the merits, we have no idea. On the politics, it strikes us a very risky maneuver.
That said, people like Wallace are busy earning millions of dollars selling "cable news" product. You should never trust their judgment or their factual statements or the pleasing product they sell.