Monday, November 07, 2016

The Most Enabling

Robert Reich has identified three sets of "enablers" which have allowed Donald Trump to do "incalculable damage to America."

He notes "the term 'media' comes from 'mediate' between the news and the public" but "Trump removed the mediators."  Additionally, "not only did the media fawn over Trump but it also failed to subject his assertions, policy proposals, and biography to the scrutiny normal candidates receive."

He holds responsible also the Democratic Party, which "abandoned the working class (thus) clearing the way for Trump" because it "failed to reverse the decline in working-class wages and jobs."

Reich blames the Republican Party for having "nurtured the xenophobia, racism, fact-free allegations, and wanton disregard for democratic institutions that Trump has fed on." He recognizes "Trump's disdain of facts," which is "preceded by a long Republican tradition- denying, for example, that carbon emissions cause climate change, and tax cuts increase budget deficits."   "And Trump's threats," he writes,"not to be bound by the outcome of the election are consistent with the GOP's persistent threats to shut down the government over policy disagreements,and oft-repeated calls for nullification of Supreme Court decisions."

Citing remarks which "suggested Sytian refugees be divided into Christians and Muslims," Reich identifed three of Trump's primary opponents- Ted Cruz, John Ellis Bush, and Ben Carson.

Nonetheless, there is a Republican who has aided and abetted the rise of Donald Trump more than any other Republican- and arguably more than any other individual.

That man is Indiana governor Mike Pence.  After winning the nomination- and especially after the two party conventions- Trump was a decided underdog to Hillary Clinton.  Pence, a former member of the House GOP leadership, helped prevent widespread criticism of the presidential candidate by the Party's congressional wing. And as a theocrat, he salved the conscience of evangelical Christians, who previously had claimed the mantle of "family values" and more recently would never acknowledge that any pro-choice candidate, anywhere, possibly could be a "Christian."

Additionally, Pence may be indirectly undermining a health skepticism of entrenched institutions. Politico's Ben Schreckinger summarizes

Reacting to news that the FBI won't change its determination in the Hillary Clinton email probe, Republican nominee Donald Trump made it clear he still regards her as guilty and is convinced she will ultimately face justice.

“You can't review 650,000 emails in eight days," Trump said Sunday in an appearance at the Freedom Hill Amphitheater. "You can't do it folks. Hillary Clinton is guilty.”

That contrasted sharply with the reaction, as Politico's Matthew Nussbaum reported, when

Mike Pence responded to FBI Director James Comey’s declaration that its decision not to indict Hillary Clinton remained unchanged after reviewing newly found materials by continuing his own assault on Clinton’s ethics.

“The American people have had enough and they’ve especially had enough of the fast and loose ethics of Bill and Hillary Clinton,” Pence declared, and was met by loud chants of “lock her up!” from the crowd of a few hundred.

“The FBI last summer concluded that Hillary Clinton having classified documents on that private server was ‘extremely careless,’” Pence said. “And I guess today, I don’t know if you heard, today they announced that they had not changed that conclusion.”

Nussbaum explained "The conclusion the FBI reaffirmed in a letter to Congress on Sunday was its decision not to prosecute Clinton."  (Score one for fair and accurate journalism, whether balanced or not.)

When Comey in June announced that Mrs. Clinton had been "extremely careless" in handling e-mails but that the FBI lacked a case to indict her, Clintonites commended the Director and Trumpists denounced him.  When Comey recently stated that he was re-opening a review of e-mails from Huma Abedin's account, Trumpists cheered while Clinton supporters- with a far stronger case than had Trump supporters when they criticized Comey- were very critical.

Now that the FBI has reiterated its decision not to recommend prosecution of Mrs. Clinton, Trump maintains "you can't review 650,000 e mails in eight days."

Maybe, maybe not. But properly channeled (as Trump, admittedly, will not do), his criticism of the FBI, as well as Democratic jabs at Comey both for announcing a new review so close to the election and intially holding a news conference rather than issuing a simple statement indicating there will be no prosecution recommended. can serve a useful purpose.

Clearly, there is a problem within the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whether the Republican, predominantly "white, male, usually Catholic, and conservative culture" or its apparent inability to determine conclusively whether Hillary Clinton's e-mail server was hacked.

Into that morass steps GOP vice-pesidential candidate Mike Pence.  On a day in which he blasts the "fast and loose ethics of Bill and Hillary Clnton" and added "you know, mishandling classified information is a crime," he chooses to defend the very instituion which has fumbled the entire matter. "I don’t know if you heard, today they announced that they had not changed that conclusion," pompous Pence remarkably concluded, assidously avoiding any criticism of a faulty institution in his partisan attack on the Clintons.

In the year preceeding Pence's selection, Donald Trump just over the past year had

-argued John McCain was no war "hero" because he was captured;
-advocated closing down some  mosques;
-referred to Megyn Kelly's "blood coming out of her wherever;"
-recommended supporters at a rally "knock the crap out of hecklers;"
-proposed to change libel laws to make it easier to sue media organizations;
-publicly bragged about the size of his penis;
-suggested the father of Ted Cruz as being involved in the assassination of President  Kennedy and  threatened to out Ted's wife for a speculated mental health problem;
-mimicked a reporter for his disability;
-commended "the power of strength" of the Chinese regime in its Tianamen Square  crackdown;
-referred to "my African American over here;"
-demeaned military members and veterans with mental health issues;
-declared "our great African American Preisdent hasn't exactly had a positive impact on the  thus who  are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore;"
-blamed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for creating Al Qaeda;
-re-tweeted a brazenly anti-Semitic  image.

And that's not including Trump's public praise of authoritarians including Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan, North Korea's Kim Jong-un, Iraq's late Sadaam Hussein, or Russia's Vladimir Putin. Nor does it consider Trump's business dealings with La Cosa Nostra, defrauding students at  Trump "University," nor false claims of donating to veterans' groups. There also were "low-energy JEB," "Little Marco," and "Lyin' Ted."

No statement of the candidate, nor his ridicule of fellow Republicans, brazen misogyny, racial bias, ignorance about basic issues, and repeated lies could deter Mike Pence.  He accepted the role of normalizing the presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump. Nobody put a gun to his head (which wouldn't have convinced the NRA to drop its opposition to all gun safety measures, anyway).

On Tuesday (and earlier in states with early voting), Donald J. Trump, authoritarian, will be on the ballot. So will Mike Pence, authoritarian enabler-in-chief.

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