Trump fires Comey who is overseeing at least 3 Trump-related investigations and Chris Matthews and others wonder: Is this creeping fascism? Or a buffoon? Is the GOP flailing or are we on the verge of something unthinkable? What is really going on here? And what do we do?
At the end of this piece you will find a very compelling video on what may be going on and what we need to do. But first: Tyrant? Buffoon? Puppet? All of the above?
After his calamitous first attempt at TrumpCare, his almost laughable tax reform plan, his failed executive directives, and now a second TrumpCare health plan doomed to fail in the Senate, it is hard not to cheer gleefully as Trump appears hellbent on destroying the GOP and restoring the Democrats to control at least one chamber of Congress in 2018.
And there is mounting evidence of concern among GOP leadership that Trump is steering the GOP off a cliff. Click here for an excellent summary of the sequence of events and the various FBI investigations that are under way involving Trump or his administration. And it isn’t just the media who are concerned. Below are the concerns of no less than eight GOP Senators about the firing of FBI Director Comey:
- Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.): The Senate Intelligence Committee chairman said in a statement that he was “troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination.”
- Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.): Corker said in a statement that “while the case for removal of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey laid out by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein was thorough, his removal at this particular time will raise questions.”
- Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.): Flake said in a tweet that “I’ve spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing. I just can’t do it.”
- Sen. John McCain (Ariz.): McCain said in a statement that “while the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President’s decision to remove James Comey from office.”
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska): Murkowski said in a statement that “whether or not you are a supporter of Mr. James Comey’s actions as FBI director, the timing of his firing — in the middle of an investigation into Russia’s interference in our election — is serious cause for concern.”
- Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio): Portman said in a statement that “given the timing and circumstances of the decision, I believe the White House should provide a fuller explanation regarding the president’s rationale.”
- Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.): Sasse said in a statement that “regardless of how you think Director Comey handled the unprecedented complexities of the 2016 election cycle, the timing of this firing is very troubling … I have reached out to the Deputy Attorney General for clarity on his rationale for recommending this action.”
So while there is ample evidence of a possible crumbling of the GOP, there is also much about which we should be very concerned. In just 110 days, Trump has fired the acting attorney general, his national security adviser, most of the scientists in the EPA, a raft of US attorneys, and now the FBI director who was in the midst of overseeing three investigations of the Trump team. He tweets a steady stream of dangerous racist rhetoric and creates alternative facts at the same time that he accuses credible media of being villainously untrustworthy and has launched a trio of impulsive military adventures. All of these behaviors point to a President with no appreciation of any form of balance to government, a tyrant who wants his way or the highway. And then there is the lurking fear that we are one faux terrorist attack away from his seeking to seize unheard of emergency powers. Recall that Hitler used the burning of the Reichstag, just weeks into his ascendancy in Germany, to dissolve the legislature and form a dictatorship.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, former FBI agent Clint Watts noted that Comey’s firing meant that the “rule of law does not matter — it’s the rule of political power. “A little whiff of fascism tonight, I think, is fair today,” Matthews responded.
So which is it, buffoon who will dismantle the GOP? Or calculating fascist in waiting?
But there may be other things operating here. After laying out two ways to view the situation, a buffoon or a developing fascist, in a Salon.com article, Is Trump Really Building a Fascist Regime? Andrew O’Hehir opined: “I’m always tempted, when faced with this kind of dichotomy, to suggest that both things can be true. It could end up that way: Trump could begin his accidental presidency as a reality-show character who escaped containment, and end up as the figurehead leader of a totalitarian regime.”
He goes on to quote Yale historian Timothy Snyder as saying that a Trump led effort to create a coup was inevitable and then in the next paragraph cites Brooklyn College political science professor Corey Robin’s Guardian Op-Ed, where Robin points out that Trump has done very little to actually assemble power, leaving hundreds of positions in the Justice Department, Homeland Security, and other branches of government run by Obama appointees. He makes the point, that if consolidating power were Trump’s goal, he would be doing a better job of doing it.
O’Hehir then reaches a scary prospect: “The fact that Donald Trump is really bad at being a tyrant is itself dangerous, and the fact that he has allowed himself to be turned into a puppet for the most retrograde elements of the Republican Party adds some extra instability to the danger.” And it is this last point that causes me to be most concerned. That while Trump is a buffoon, at the same time he is a puppet for some very dangerous autocratic folks who pull his strings, who will let him do his work dismantling the balance of power, and then when his silly tweets and embarrassing blunders become inconvenient, will cut the strings on the puppet and easily seize power. Click here to review the entire Salon piece.