Life is not fair, and if you are over a certain age, and if you are paying any attention, you have probably come to the conclusion that fate and karma do not exist. The good guys don’t always win. The meek did not inherit the earth. And while justice isn’t often bought outright, it can always be rented.
But, you cannot defy the laws of gravity. If you throw a stone up into the air, no matter how much money you have it will eventually come down. Even if you stare into the news camera and promise it is going to stay up there forever and even if 46.1 per cent of the electorate believe you, that stone is still going to fall.
I’ve been reminding myself of this more and more frequently as I watch President Donald Trump wreak havoc across government, the United States and the world. It is too late for this story to have a happy ending. The lesser man won. The damage being done to the international order, American democracy, to Washington’s stature in the world, will never be entirely undone. One of the world’s most notorious frauds, one of the most incorrigible liars in history, became the 45th president and it’s too late to change that.
But, that doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences. The president, his allies, and the people around him have all set in motion certain things that will lead to unavoidable repercussions.
Consider the president’s election team, men like Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner. Meetings with Russian intelligence agents during the election, and more than a few shady business deals have guaranteed that their personal Javert, special counsel Robert Mueller will be issuing indictments. When the crimes are this significant, and when the posse on your trail is this large, you can’t outrun the law.
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Then there is the team in the White House. They’ve already begun to fall by the wayside with over a dozen fired or forced to resign so far. But that will not be their real punishment. Last week a man named Herbert Kalmback passed away at the age of 95. He had led a long and distinguished career as a lawyer. But every obituary focused on one thing, his short time in the Nixon White House and his (minor) role in Watergate. No matter what he did before, or what he did after, that was a stain that could not be washed off. It will be the same for Bannon, Scaramucci, Preibus, Spicer and Gorka. They will always be remembered for what they did or didn’t do during the few short months they spent in Trump’s orbit. You can’t out run the public memory.
The Republican Party will also have legacy issues ahead. Ironically, at a moment when the GOP has more governors, senators, congressmen and judges in power than at any time in the last 80 years, it is in utter disarray. They have not even been able to line up in an orderly fashion to pass a single piece of important legislation, even after 7 years of chanting “Repeal and Replace Obamacare”. But, this too is a case where the real consequences are further down the road. The party and its President have accelerated a decade long trend by further alienating women, Hispanics, immigrants, urban voters and youth. The impact of this will likely be felt for decades, as the GOP base of elderly white men literally dies off. Consider that the Washington Post is reporting over a 100,000 Puerto Ricans will relocate to Florida due to the aftermath of hurricane Maria. The Republicans won that state by only 120,000 votes. They can’t outrun demographics.
Then there is Donald Trump, the man at the center of everything. Over the last two years he has demonstrated an apparent ability to defy all the laws of politics. At every stage of his nomination race, of the election, and of his Presidency, he has broken seemingly inviolable norms, he has committed traditionally unforgivable crimes, all without apparent consequences. Accusations of sexual assault, lawsuits for fraud, tax evasion, self-dealing, nepotism, lewd recordings—all transgressions that have destroyed the careers of better men before him, and yet these have not even interrupted his stride. The laws of gravity apparently don’t apply.
But, even if he escapes impeachment, even if Robert Mueller does not unveil a list of crimes, even if all the congressional and Justice investigations announce there is no evidence of collusion or tax evasion or obstruction of justice, Trump will still be remembered as the most ineffective and incompetent President in a century, if not in all of American history.
After nine months in office, he has proven to all but his most loyal partisan followers that he is totally incapable of running the government, defending American interests, passing legislation or even to managing his own cabinet. At this point, there is nothing the President or his supporters can do to escape this verdict. When it is all over, his term will be described with words previously unassociated with any other modern president: ignorant, treasonous, confused, incompetent, petty, crass, ridiculous.
History won’t just be unkind to Trump, it will be cruel. That stone is going to fall.
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