An American Tragedy, Act 3

Former President Donald Trump, twice impeached but impervious to shame, went on trial Thursday on criminal charges related to paying money to a porn star. There was a time in American history, which we can hardly remember now, when such a sentence, such a plot point, would have been beyond our imagination. It hasn’t been like this for a long time.

In early 2016, the rise of such a clown, a lousy real estate agent who had only just revealed the full depth of his bigotry and authoritarian impulses, was a joke. During his final State of the Union address, Barack Obama gave a light-hearted, confident interview to NBC’s Matt Lauer in which he claimed that the “overwhelming majority” of voters would see Trump as a “simple solution and a scapegoat”. .” And Hillary Clinton would be elected.

Obama thought it was funny. “Well,” he laughed, “I can imagine it in a ‘Saturday Night’ skit.”

Several months later, as Trump edged closer to Hillary Clinton in the polls, editors chimed in. new yorker commissioned Ivan Osanos, who had reported on reactionary forces and militias supporting Trump, to write a long, speculative article about the unthinkable. The piece, “The First Term of President Trump,” was both a serious investigation, interviews with wisecracking heads of both political parties, and an editorial stunt. It was accompanied by a photo montage of Trump standing in the Oval Office staring out tall windows at a winter landscape. The reaction among readers was one of alarm, as if by imagining a Trump presidency we had somehow made it more likely.

Indeed, Osnos approached his task with restraint and care. “More than a year after candidate Trump, Americans are almost as impervious to every new failure revealed by their past — losing schemes and cheap brutality, discrimination and misogyny — as they are to the day-to-day indecency of the present. : hatred of a grieving mother, hidden tax records, birth novels and other lies,” he wrote. But where is much talk about the future in all this? By mid-September, Trump was in the final sprint of his campaign, narrowing the gap behind Clinton in the popular vote from nine points to a virtual tie in August. . His victory is no longer the stuff of dark comedy or fan fiction. It’s fair to ask: What would he really be like as president?

Osnos accurately predicted Trump’s agenda on policies ranging from immigration to taxation, and in many ways he glimpsed the ambiguity of Trump’s character and intentions, but he (and no one) can fully predict everything that will happen in the future. Couldn’t have guessed. To put forward: insanity, incapacitation. , daily scams and hoaxes, mafia-like criminality, impeachments and Capitol riots – or, now, what is sure to be a long season of criminal prosecutions, first in New York and, most likely, in Georgia and Washington D.C.

With this indictment, we have entered a new act in the saga that Trump considers turning a potential criminal into a campaign opportunity. Who else could imagine fingerprints, a mug shot and handcuffs as tools in an effort to “strengthen the base”?

Trump responded by indicting — what he called “political harassment and election interference at the highest level in history” — President Biden and “Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who was hand-picked and funded by George Soros.” Most recently, Trump characterized Bragg, who is black, as a “racist”, calling him a “degenerate psychopath” and “human scum”.

Trump’s closest rival in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responded with a fervent defense of the American justice system and a muffled call for the courts to do their job. no he has not. Fearing to offend Trump’s base he hopes to inherit, DeSantis said, “Appropriating the justice system to advance a political agenda is troubling the rule of law. This is un-American. The Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney has consistently flouted the law. , , , etc. (It’s good to know that Trump and DeSantis, who have come to despise each other, can agree on at least one of all contemporary anti-Semitism tropes, the almighty betrayal of George Soros.) DeSantis also assured Given that the American people say they will not extradite Trump from Mar-a-Lago if he does not appear in Manhattan. Trump has yet to express his appreciation.

We haven’t been given access to the New York indictment — those papers remain sealed — but it’s quite likely that potential criminal charges arising from Trump’s role in the Capitol insurrection and Georgia election law tampering will be simpler and more compelling. , Some legal experts have said that the New York case is weaker and more complicated than others. we will see.

What we do know is that the former President will do and say anything to swing these things in his favor; He will try to burnish his image as a savior of the world and a martyr Maga millions; He will do and say anything to deepen his connection with voters who, as he tells them day in and day out, are victims of elites in the media, universities, courts and beyond. And, as he proved on January 6, 2021, Trump is willing to stoke violence and civil war as long as it furthers his interests. Facing persecution, he recently threatened the prospect of “death and destruction”.

If anything, Trump is more unbalanced than in his final days in the White House. recently cpac There was a wildness in his speech that made the fiery chauvinism of his 2016 inauguration pale as the murmurings of Martin Van Buren or Warren G. Harding. As you read, remember that this is the leading candidate for the Republican nomination:

The sinister forces trying to kill America did everything they could to stop me, to silence you, and to turn this country into a socialist dumping ground for criminals, junkies, Marxists, thugs, fanatics, and dangerous refugees which no other country wants. No other country wants them. If the adversaries succeed, someday our beautiful America will be a failed country that no one will recognize. A lawless, open border, crime-ridden, squalid, communist nightmare. He is going and he is going. , , , That’s why I stand before you, because we are going to finish what we started. We started something that was a miracle. We are going to complete the mission. We will continue this fight till the final victory.

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