Sic semper tyrannis

 

 

Have you noticed? On cable news stations now, it’s all Trump, all the time.

Trump and his administration should be covered closely and his actions, statements, and claims scrutinized.

But, in my humble opinion, it’s way too much. It’s as if there were nothing else to talk about. It almost seems addictive or unhealthy, like compulsive snacking.

Isn’t there anything else important?

 

 

*****************************************************

 

I started thinking about the Mueller probe. It is entering a new phase, with the special counsel announcing three indictments at the end of last month — including the indictment of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Investigators are interviewing people close to the president’s inner circle.

And running through my mind thoughts about how this might be viewed in comparison with past investigations and scandals.

For instance, Watergate. I devoured each morsel of news that was divulged, piece by piece, as members of the Nixon administration and Nixon himself got ensnared in the scandal. As Nixon’s lies were shown to be lies.

As Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, dismissed the first report of the break-in at the Watergate Hotel as a “third rate burglary attempt” and then, as the investigation into Watergate deepened, admitted that his previous statements had become “inoperative.” (Shades of false claims made by White House press secretary Sean Spicer and what Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said, in defending Spicer, about “alternative facts.”)

I hated Nixon, thought he was a crook. The consummate practitioner of political dirty tricks: he and his administration. I not only felt that Nixon deserved to be impeached, I couldn’t wait to see it happen. If it could be brought about. Because it was, until the very end, by no means certain. To bring down a president who had been reelected in 1972 by the widest margin in popular votes of any US presidential election.

But, I see now in hindsight that the reason Nixon was forced to resign (facing impeachment) was that enough people — especially the establishment — didn’t LIKE him. The establishment turned against him and, ultimately, the diehards in his own party did.

The Watergate affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in June 1972. The actual damage done by the break-in was negligible. But, the deepening scandal revealed a pattern of abuses of power by the Nixon administration and a subsequent cover up.

In the case of the Mueller probe, the proximate cause that has led to an inquiry was Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and the Trump campaign’s involvement in it. Again, the damage done does not seem serious enough to bring down an entire administration.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

So, what causes leaders to lose power?

Most will say, perhaps rightly: ABUSES of power.

But, I would say: With all the committee hearings and all the twists and turns. With the probes designed to trap and ensnare officials in their own lies, like someone all twisted up in a coat they’re trying to take off. That leaders lose power when they fall out of favor. When not enough people support them any longer. When they are considered, perhaps, as pariahs: an embarrassment or offensive to good taste. When the establishment doesn’t support them. It has been this way since ancient times.

If they lose support, it is only a matter of time before they’re gone. They and their administration will collapse like Humpty Dumpty or a house of cards. All sorts of investigative probes and hearings and rationales will be held and advanced to justify to the public’s satisfaction, and to provide a supposedly legal foundation for, the removal of the officeholder. But what really counts is whether the leader is still liked. By the RIGHT PEOPLE.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

What is really going on with the Mueller probe is the following: A lot of people, including practically the entire liberal elite, want to see Trump gone. By any means. For and using any reason. The probe and the committee hearings are a sort of play acting, a choreographed dress rehearsal for what they hope will be the president’s downfall.

The Watergate hearings: Senator Sam Ervin, Samuel Dash. Great political theater.

President Nixon: an anathema to the liberal establishment.

Donald Trump: a bull in a China shop, darling of the “deplorables.”

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   November 2017

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1) rogersgleanings.com, a personal site, he also hosts websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin.
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8 Responses to Sic semper tyrannis

  1. Pete Smith says:

    While I fully agree that the “all Trump all the time” reporting on MSNBC and CNN and Fox is terrible reporting and dismal TV, the tone of your post suggests that Trump is not creating serious damage to our country — and worse, that the Russian intervention in our election was trifling.

    The Mueller investigation is very important. This isn’t just liberals not liking Trump; both sides agree that the Russians conducted a very serious invasion of our democracy. The degree to which Trump or his allies were involved is unknown, and I will gladly accept the Mueller results whatever the outcome. But to suggest that the Mueller investigation is driven by politics or elite liberals is wrong.

    As for Trump, the damage he is doing to this country is beyond belief. Here’s what a friend of mine wrote yesterday about this jerk:

    Flattery

    “The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” — Norman Vincent Peale

    They have figured out how to game him. Flatter him. You could see it in every stop along the way on his recent Asian trip. Every head of state gushes all over him; makes him puff his chest; preen like a peacock. And, in every bilateral negotiation, they’re going to get their way.

    Putin fawns all over him. French President Emmanuel Macron rolls out miles of red carpet and hires scores of cornet players. The Saudis give him a sword and let him dance. And, the great deal maker has been completely played.

    His insecurities are written on his forehead. He has to have the largest crowds, the most opulence, the most praise. As a personal character flaw, it is almost pitiable. As a fissure in our national interests, it is both dangerous and disturbing. We’re screwed.

    The latest flap over Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” is telling. Trump claims he got the nod for 2017 but turned them down…too busy for the photo shoot. Time says the President is “incorrect.”

    No dignity. No character. No class.

  2. Pungent comments. Well put. I respect your point of view. But, I believe my points have validity as an attempt to put things in perspective and should be given consideration.

  3. haycarol says:

    As you would expect, I totally disagree. Your arguments are weak and ill-founded and ignore the very real threat to American democracy as far as the Russians interfering with the election and the very likely collusion by the Trump administration. Nixon was not impeached merely because he was disliked; that’s absurd. He broke the law. Trump is not being investigated merely because of the liberals — that is also a faulty argument. He is being investigated because there is real evidence that people who are associated with him and the campaign colluded with Russia. Once again, your defense of Trump is bizarre. Are you doing this just to be the contrarian you boast of being? Do you even realize the danger Trump poses? Do you realize how unfit he is to be president? Do you think someone who admits to sexually assaulting women should remain in office? Don’t you think CNN and other news outlets ought to be reporting on this travesty of a presidency? Anyone, Democrat or Republican, should see that Trump is unhinged and unfit and should be alarmed for our country. Defending Trump is misguided.

  4. Pete Smith says:

    Pungent? Do you mean my comments stink?

  5. I hope that’s a joke. As far as I know, “pungent” means something like sharp, to the point, telling, incisive. Sort of like, if you were a boxer, a referee would be awarding you points.

  6. I am proud be a contrarian, boastful or not.

  7. Pete Smith says:

    from the OED: Having a sharply strong taste or smell (“the pungent smell of frying onions”)

    To be fair, the second definition is (of comment, criticism, or humour) having a sharp and caustic quality.

    But you missed my joke.

  8. Actually, I did have an idea of the first definition of “pungent” and had an inkling that might have been how you were using the “pungent.” Good joke.

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