"If anything, the Trump investigation will probably be more devastating than the Whitewater scandals."
-- David Brooks, today.
Because the Trump scandals are real and devastating, and the Whitewater scandals were, y'know, imaginary.
-- driftglass, today
Based on the skimpy real estate slide show of David Brooks' new multi-million dollar Capitol Hill retreat, it is hard to tell exactly what psychoactive vegetation grows in Mr. Brooks' garden. But based on his column in The New York Times today (the column that paid for his new multi-million dollar Capitol Hill retreat, as well as the other multi-million dollar domiciles he has bought and sold recently) Farmer Dave must be raising some mighty potent shit out by the pool area.
Because once we get past the obligatory hand-wringing over the debauched character of the racist clown that Mr. Brooks' Republican Party nominated and elected --
The third important lesson of the hearing is that Donald Trump is characterologically at war with the norms and practices of good government. Comey emerged as a superb institutionalist, a man who believes we are a nation of laws. Trump emerged as a tribalist and a clannist, who simply cannot understand the way modern government works.Trump is also plagued with a self-destructive form of selfishness. He is consumed by a hunger for affirmation, but, demented by his own obsessions, he can’t think more than one step ahead.In search of praise he is continually doing things that will end up bringing him condemnation. He lies to people who have the power to publicly devastate him. He betrays people who have the power to damage him. Trump is most dangerous to the people who are closest to him and are in the best position to take their revenge.
-- things take a turn towards the decidedly weird.
And I think I know why, about which more later.
The weirdness manifests itself in a carefully weasel-worded alibi in which Mr. Brooks gently eases his friends in the Republican congress off the hook by asserting that no matter how unhinged, lawless and destructive President Stupid may be, there is just no available mechanism for dealing with an unhinged, lawless and destructive President.
As proof, Mr. Brooks offers this bizarrely pixilated assessment of what we all saw yesterday.
The second important implication of the hearings is that as far as we know, Donald Trump has not performed any criminal act that would merit removing him from office.
Sure, he cleared the room so he could lean on Comey to go easy on Michael Flynn. But he didn’t order Comey to shut down the investigation as a whole or do any of the things (like following up on the request) that would constitute real obstruction.And sure, Trump did later fire Comey. But it’s likely that the Comey firing had little or nothing to do with the Flynn investigation.
This morning there are roughly one million lawyers on teevee (and another 20 million on the job, and another 10 million JDs-to-be in law school) debating how many bungles can dance on the head of this pin. And the overwhelming consensus among all of them whose names do not rhyme with "Snark Skeesowitz" is clearly this: if articles of impeachment could be drawn up on Richard Nixon for grunting his assent to obstruction to a third party, then fuck yes President Stupid can be impeached over personally and directly leaning on the director of the FBI after clearing the room of witnesses, and then bragging about firing him because of Russia on teevee.
Because impeachment is a political process and not a legal one, which Mr. Brooks damn well knows. Just as he damn well knows that the reason our political systems and institutions are broken is because they are hostage to the depraved whims of the same mob of Republican bigots, plutocrats and imbeciles that nominated and elected President Stupid in the first place.
Here is Mr. Brooks' former op-ed "boss" at The New York Times. Andrew Rosenthal, brutally subtweeting Mr. Brooks on the same op-ed page:
Others tried to make it seem as though Trump had not technically obstructed justice, and made much of the notion that he never said something like “I’m ordering you to fake the results of the investigation.”
That didn’t work either. There is no hiding the plain and simple fact that Trump abused his power. His primary goal was not, I believe, to protect Michael Flynn, but to protect a person far more important to Trump: himself.
Here is Andrew Sullivan, Mr. Brooks' former roommate in the Imaginary Reasonable Conservative bunk house (with emphasis added):
But the details to buttress this picture add weight and texture to all of it. Comey credibly asserted that the president asked for personal loyalty to him, and not to the Constitution; that Trump sought leverage over Comey in a highly inappropriate private dinner for two; that he cleared the Oval Office of everyone else so that he could ask Comey alone to drop the inquiry into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia; that when Comey refused to obey, the president fired him; that when asked why he fired him, the president openly cited the investigation into Russia; and that he then brazenly threatened the FBI director if he spoke the truth about their interactions in hearings or the press.What else do we really need to know?
Or look at it this way: We now have a witness of long public service, clear integrity, with contemporaneous memoranda and witnesses, who just testified under oath to the president’s clear attempt to obstruct justice. Any other president of any party who had been found guilty of these things would be impeached under any other circumstances...
And that last sentence right there is what is so deeply problematic for Serious Conservative pundits like Mr. Brooks. Because that last sentence right there is not only manifestly untrue, but the reason it is manifestly untrue represents the first mile marker on a long and treacherous road down which Serious Conservative pundits dare not go.
Because that road leads directly through the heart of the most dangerous territory on Earth for every Serious Conservative pundit: The Past.
As I have written several thousand times on this little blog o' mine, waging continuous war on The Past is
...the single defining characteristic that binds all Conservatives together -- the Reagan wig and Confederate flag clown pants big enough fit both Andrew Sullivan and Sarah Palin -- is their truly otherworldly ability to implacably ignore objective reality when it conflicts with whatever silly-ass nonsense they are lying about this week.
Conservatives across the spectrum are forever whitewashing The Past. Bludgeoning The Past. Creating wholly fictional histories to displace and bury The Past.
The Past is the Terrible Thing against which they have erected their mighty wall of Strategic Forgettery. It is the reason the media obediently abides by The Gingrich Rules and The Beltway Iron Rule of David Brooks and why infamous bottom-feeding crackpots like Bill Kristol and Hugh Hewitt are suddenly Respected Political Analysts on the teevee machine.
In fact, the very reason for our present crisis is that our country is drowning in a vast, Republican-inflicted, media-enabled conspiracy of forgetting, and once we start down the road of remember our own past, the entire Conservative universe -- from Brooks to Hannity -- begins to fall apart.
Which is why Mr. Brooks uses the balance of his column in The New York Times to re-imagine the the Great Penis Hunt of the 1990's (h/t Brother Charles Pierce) as some apolitical act of God or nature. Like every other chapter of fake history in Mr. Brooks' Great Project, Mr. Brooks presents the GPH completely flensed of the despicable, partisan motives and methods of the leaders of the Republican Party who worked like mad to whip every Arkansas swamp shack rumor into The Greatest Constitutional Crisis In Modern History.
Mr. Brooks makes is no mention of the role the Conservative propaganda machine (led by the American Spectator magazine supercharged by Richard Mellon Scaife money) played in inventing one fake Clinton "scandals" after another. No mention of the role of the Republican House under the leadership of Newt Gingrich played in trying to reverse-engineer anything they could dig up or make up into a bill of impeachment long before anyone had ever heard of Monica Lewinsky. No mention of Whitewater's Javert-with-unlimited-billable-hours, Ken Starr.
Instead, Mr. Brooks turns the entire Republican attempted-coup-by-impeachment scheme -- from Whitewater through Blue Dress -- into a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger cautionary tale about the consequences of investigating presidents generally:
If past is prologue, this investigation will drag on for a while. The Clinton people thought the Whitewater investigation might last six months, but the inquiries lasted over seven years. The Trump investigation will lead in directions nobody can now anticipate. When the Whitewater investigation started, Monica Lewinsky was an unknown college student and nobody had any clue that an investigation into an Arkansas land deal would turn into an investigation about sex.This investigation will ruin careers far and wide. Investigators go after anybody they think can yield information on the president. Before the Whitewater investigators got to Clinton they took down Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, Webb Hubbell, Susan and Jim McDougal, and many others.
But of course, The Past can only be prologue for those who remember it fully and clearly. So how perfectly ironic it is that doing this very thing -- remembering The Past fully and clearly -- is also the greatest single existential and financial threat to Conservatism generally, and to Mr. David Brooks' ability to afford his new multi-million dollar Capitol Hill retreat specifically.