WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2023
A type of silent secession: Just for the record, is it possible?
Is it possible that some Trump voters may have the tiniest hint of a very small germ of a possible point?
As we noted yesterday, Mike Barnicle tried to ask a perfectly sensible question—a question we ourselves have raised on occasion:
If Trump has been running a criminal operation all along, why didn't any of our public officials pursue him in the past?
Barnicle seemed to be trying to raise the question; Scarborough interrupted and moved to a different topic. And then, along came Ruth Marcus—plainly, no Trump voter!—raising questions about the ongoing civil trial in New York.
Marcus is a veteran columnist and an associate editor at the Washington Pot. Headline included, her new column starts like this:
Does the New York fraud case against Trump go too far?
As Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial begins, it’s important to keep three things in mind:
First, Trump is a fabulist and fraudster, a man who, the evidence shows, flagrantly and repeatedly inflated the value of his assets to finance his business empire.
Second, New York law provides extraordinarily broad powers to go after such misconduct. Under the law, there’s no requirement to prove that Trump’s actions harmed anyone—in this case, the banks that lent him money. There’s no requirement to prove that the fraud was intentional. And the judge in the case has wide discretion to impose the kind of draconian remedy that he did, revoking Trump’s licenses to operate in New York and appointing a receiver to oversee the dissolution of his properties.
But that brings me to a third point, which might require a trigger warning if, like me, you are no fan of the former president: The punishment in his case is, as far as I can tell, unprecedented in its scale.
Later, Marcus almost says that she wants to see Trump frog-marched off to jail. That said. uh-oh! Her column ends in this manner:
I have no brief for Trump. Like many others, I wish there were a way to adequately punish him for his misbehavior—all of it—and prevent its repetition. Not just the alleged crimes for which he has been appropriately charged, but all the noncriminal damage he has inflicted on this country and its citizens. Trump has trashed so many institutions that made the nation better and fairer and safer that no set of penalties seems equal to damage he has done. The temptation to lash out is understandable, especially in the hands of an elected prosecutor deploying a particularly powerful statute.
The rule of law means not allowing Trump to evade responsibility, criminal or civil, for his behavior. But it also entails not treating Trump more harshly than anyone else in similar circumstances, and I worry that is what is happening here.
Marcus holds a degree from Harvard Law School. We have no way of evaluating her claim that Trump is being singled out, in the New York civil trial, for a highly unusual degree of punishment.
We don't know if Marcus is right! But if someone like Marcus suspects that Trump is being treated in a somewhat unusual way, is there any reason why Trump voters may not think that political motives are involved in the wave of prosecutions and civil actions which have proliferated in the past two years?
Marcus wants to see Trump punished. In the main, we don't feel that way.
In the main, we'd like to see Trump's behavior discussed within the framework of modern medical science. We'd like to see major journalists speak to medical specialists concerning the rather obvious possibility that Trump is suffering from a serious "personality disorder—for example, the possibility that he could be diagnosed as a "sociopath."
Long ago and far away, our journalists decided that we can't have such discussions. So it goes as our civilization, such as it has been, rapidly ceases to exist.
Our civilization, such as it has been, has been disappearing of late. Consider:
As of yesterday afternoon, we don't have a Speaker of the House. For at least the next week, we won't have a House of Representatives at all.
For roughly a year, we didn't have a ninth Supreme Court Justice. At present, we have no annual spending bills. In this age of Tuberville, we've been limping along without a wide array of major military leaders.
In all these ways, our failing nation—such as it ever was—is slowly succumbing to a wave of unspoken secessions.
Then too, we can't have a serious national discourse about any serious topic.
The mainstream press corps has long played a key role in this withdrawal from service. But then again, consider what we saw last night, on the Fox News Channel.
We refer to what happened in the 10 o'clock hour. At 10 p.m., the Gutfeld! program started precisely as shown:
GUTFELD (10/3/23): Happy Tuesday, everyone.
So Democrat congressman Jamaal Bowman has had himself a week—and it's only Tuesday. On Saturday, he pulled a fire alarm at the Capitol and claimed he doesn't know what a fire alarm does.
For the record, Bowman never claimed that he doesn't know what a fire alarm does. That silly claim was just the start to the latest hour of inane and bungled claims in service to tribal orthodoxy.
Meanwhile, say what? On the day that Kevin McCarthy was ousted from office, Gutfeld was starting his prime-time program with the trivial tedium of Rep. Bowman and the four-day old fire alarm?
Yes, that's where he started! Let it be said that his opening monologue continued for six minutes—and he spoke about Bowman and the fire alarm and about nothing else.
At 10:06, Gutfeld's monologue ended; he began to introduce his four-member pundit panel. After the introductions were done, his first segment continued until a commercial break at 10:13—with nothing but Bowman discussed.
For the record, it gets even stranger:
Remarkably, the ousting of McCarthy was never discussed at any point in Gutfeld's hour-long program! McCarthy's name was mentioned just once, in a fleeting throw-away remark by a comedian panelist.
It would be hard to imagine a stupider program, whether on a "news channel" or not. As an example of the night's subject matter, here was Gutfeld at 10:30 sharp, introducing the evening's third segment:
GUTFELD: A fat activist's latest fight? America's hallways are too tight!
Yeah, a plus-size influencer named Jae'lynn Chaney says hotels need to make their hallways bigger to accommodate obese people. It's one of many recommendations she posted to a bill to improve accessibility...
An inane, generally insulting pseudo-discussion followed. You can watch it starting here.
On last night's Gutfeld! program, the topics were generally fringe; the discussions were routinely inane. They tended to resemble low-level "open mike" comedy shows from the 1980s.
Meanwhile, let's say it again. The removal of Kevin McCarthy was never discussed—and this stupidity aired during prime time on our most-watched "cable news" channel!
For the record, Greg Gutfeld has become the ratings king of Fox News. His 10 p.m. show is a ratings hit. Beyond that, he's the prevailing star of The Five, the high-rated 5 p.m. daily program.
These programs are built around snarky, "humor"-based commentary, often about a range of fringe issues. The propaganda is always apparent—and a similar sensibility inhabits Watters World, the largely snark-based tabloid show which replaced Tucker Carlson in the 8 p.m. timeslot.
(The smirk king Watters is another star of The Five.)
A major modern nation can't expect to survive this way—with garbage like this being widely produced for tribal audiences while upper-end, elite news orgs pretend they haven't noticed.
A nation can't survive this way! Plainly, our civilization needs renewal, much as Norman Brown said.
It won't be easy to achieve any such renewal. By now, manifestations of civilizational decay possess some very deep roots.
McCarthy's ouster was never discussed! So runs this evolving "news channel."
Tomorrow: Isaacson considers the worldview of (some) Trump voters