Back in what now feels like medieval times, I taught part-time at a school called “The American Campaign Academy,” a political operation founded and supported by the Republican Party. My classes tried to teach workable ways to promote candidates in a way that pushed the limits of the files and laws that were supposed to govern Congressional campaigns around the country.
“Your job is to protect the candidate and, if necessary, the blame if and when they get into trouble on an issue or through their personal behavior,” I told the students.
“How you feel on issues is unimportant,” I said. “It is your job to make the candidate’s beliefs work and, if they don’t, be the fall guy (or woman) who takes the heat for their failures.”
Potential press secretaries would sometimes ask: “How far do we go?”
“As far as it takes,” I said. In one class, a student asked for an example.
“G. Gordon Libby,” I answered. “He protected Richard Nixon and sent to jail protecting the secrets of the Watergate scandal.” Then, of course, I would tell them to ignore that advice. I had covered Watergate as a reporter and hoped that the corruption of Richard Nixon would never again be part of the American political system, especially at the presidential level.
I was wrong. Nixon, facing impeachment, resigned in disgrace and was pardoned for his crimes by President Gerald Ford, a Congressman who became Vice President when Nixon’s VP, a corrupt politician also resigned in disgrace.
“I thought pardoning Nixon would help the nation heal,” Ford said afterward after he lost his bid for election for a full term after assuming the presidency. He was wrong too.
Ford, a nice man caught up in a national scandal and serious threat to the Constitution and our democracy, tried to do what he thought was “the right thing.” The president that followed, peanut farmer and one-time member sailor who served with the founder of America’s “nuclear Navy, ” promised to “never tell America a lie” and lasted just one term, felled by the hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Iran and the toiled rescue attempt.
Presidents like Ford and Carter seem a world away from the presidency of a borderline crackpot like Donald J. Trump, whose corruption is topped only by his massive ego and childish desire for attention and control.
Nixon went down because Republicans and Democrats together put the needs of the nation, the Constitution, and democracy itself over politics and bickering. Now, the party of the elephant is little more than a craven cult eager to defend a treasonous criminal like Trump at all costs.
“One of the things we’re seeing is that Trump is demanding a specific kind of loyalty. It’s not just that you are loyal to Trump, but you are loyal to Trump’s most extreme versions of the lie,” former conservative Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes, a rare GOP, tells The Washington Post. “This is a significant misstep, but it feels like the kind of misstep that establishment Republicans have been making over the last six years, which is, ‘OK, people aren’t really going to buy the crazy. I can manage the crazy.’ Only to find out that the crazy is unmanageable.”
For many, the “crazy” is buying into Trump’s “Big Lie” that he somehow lost his 2020 re-election bid through non-existent fraud. Court after court, including a Supreme Court now packed with Trumpites, has ruled that no proof of fraud exists, but the lie continues.
But the search of Trump’s lavish Mar-a-Lago in Florida, found an even bigger lie, one that raises serious questions about his loyalty to this nation and its people. The Top Secret documents that he took, illegally, from the White House included compartmentalized nuclear weapons information that is never, ever, supposed to leave secured areas of the government and their existence now raises the question of whether or not we have a disgraced, corrupt former president who is also a traitor to America.
Newsweek reports that former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner feels “that Donald Trump is in really dangerous territory legally, and that the former president may have committed treason.”
“This is some really dangerous territory for Donald Trump,” Kirschner said, who also reminded viewers that the ex-president “launched an armed attack on the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power.”
“Let’s not forget about that little crime that may actually amount to treason,” he added.
Yet many Republicans, like House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, continue to castigate the FBI for executing a valid and legal search warrant that has uncovered these latest developments. They have even issued statements that could endanger the law enforcement agents who appear to have uncovered a traitor.
Are they traitors too? When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.
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