I have hesitated to blog about the firing of Comey and the extraordinary series of events that have followed because anything I might write is superseded by revelations before my two fat forefingers can hammer out a comment. But I think I have an obligation to say something, so herewith several observations.
First, for my younger readers who do not remember Watergate or even Iran Contra, the speed with which this is all unfolding is like nothing we have ever seen before. In the two days that I was away, there have been three or four twists and turns. If your familiarity with Watergate is All The President’s Men, recall that from burglary to resignation was thirteen months, during which an entire presidential election took place. I honestly do not believe this will continue for another three or four months before some explosive resolution occurs.
It is patently obvious that Trump is covering up something that he is terrified to have revealed. What is it? I do not know. He is unstable, authoritarian, frightened, blustery, crafty in a small way but not at all clever in a large strategic fashion. He literally just makes stuff up. As I watched the Lester Holt interview, he seemed to be inventing imaginary details on the fly to flesh out his lies. He claimed that Comey assured him he was not under investigation. When Holt rather skillfully pressed him for details, you could see him inventing the two phone calls as additions to the dinner, which actually took place. “Did you call him, or did he call you?” Holt asked. Trump, on the spot, made up the answer, “Once I called him, and once he called me.” I would bet the ranch that is simply false. Not a lie. That would presuppose that Trump knows the difference between truth and falsehood.
Why is it important? Well, one simple reason is that if Trump gets away with it, we are on the road to dictatorship. I mean that quite seriously. We are on the edge right now. If he gets away with it, this behavior will become the new normal.
A second reason is that Trump and the Republicans want to do a great many simply horrible things. Trump's cabinet of deplorables have already begun, and they will continue to do grave harm to countless millions of people, but many of the worst things they want to do require legislation, and Trump’s behavior is weakening their ability to legislate. In the present climate, there will be no tax bill, no faux infrastructure corporate giveaway, no repeal of legislative protections to LGBT Americans [although there will be a great deal of weakening of those protections through simple non-enforcement of existing laws.]
I am apprehensive that Trump will actually behave so self-destructively that he is removed from office too long in advance of the 2018 mid-term elections. It would be a great relief if the Democrats can take back the House, and as things are going now, that looks more and more possible. But if he is gone by the Fall, Pence will settle in and the Republicans will proceed to pass one horrific bill after another.
This is an ugly country, for all its pretensions at moral world leadership. No matter how well this turns out, that fundamental fact will continue to be true.
What will this evening or tomorrow bring? I honestly have no idea.