What ev­ery­body knows about Trump’s Amer­ica

Calgary Herald - - OPINION - AN­DREW CO­HEN An­drew Co­hen is a journalist, pro­fes­sor and au­thor of Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours That Made His­tory.

Ev­ery­body knows that Don­ald Trump is the ac­ci­den­tal pres­i­dent. He was elected with just 46.1 per cent of the pop­u­lar vote — the low­est of all but two pres­i­dents — hav­ing re­ceived al­most three mil­lion fewer votes than Hil­lary Clin­ton. He is pres­i­dent be­cause he nar­rowly won the Elec­toral Col­lege, Amer­ica’s 18th-cen­tury anachro­nism.

Ev­ery­body knows that Trump was not the vic­tim of “wide­spread voter fraud,” as he says. His vic­tory in the col­lege was not “a land­slide,” as he boasts. He won 30 states, with 306 of 538 elec­toral votes, 46th low­est of 58 elec­tions.

Ev­ery­body knows Trump is an il­le­git­i­mate pres­i­dent, whose pop­u­lar­ity has not bro­ken 50 per cent in his 21 months in of­fice. He seems to owe his vic­tory largely to med­dling Rus­sians.

Ev­ery­body knows that Trump has no in­ter­est in the con­sen­sus and com­pro­mise the of­fice de­mands; his way is di­vide and rule. His cab­i­net lacks a bal­ance of sex, race, colour and faith, he in­sults the Democrats and tries, re­lent­lessly, to erase the le­gacy of his pop­u­lar pre­de­ces­sor. Trump speaks only to his base. It makes him be­lat­edly and con­ve­niently con­ser­va­tive.

Ev­ery­body knows, in that slav­ish loy­alty to his con­stituency of older, less-ed­u­cated white men, that Trump would name two un­re­con­structed con­ser­va­tive men to the Supreme Court. Of course, he would.

Ev­ery­body knows that Brett Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion was a farce. At ev­ery turn, the Repub­li­cans pro­tected him from real scru­tiny — re­fus­ing to re­lease doc­u­ments, lim­it­ing the FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his al­leged sex­ual as­sault, dis­cred­it­ing Chris­tine Blasey Ford, rush­ing the fi­nal vote.

Ev­ery­body knows that the Repub­li­cans stole a seat on the high court when, in 2016, they re­fused to con­sider Barack Obama’s mod­er­ate nom­i­nee. Slyly, they kept the seat open un­til Trump was in­au­gu­rated. Be­cause the Democrats fool­ishly abol­ished the fil­i­buster for ju­di­cial ap­pointees when they last con­trolled the Se­nate, they were help­less.

Ev­ery­body knows that the florid-faced Ka­vanaugh lied to the Se­nate on the re­al­ity of his colour­ful ado­les­cence — his drink­ing, his par­ty­ing, his view of women. He knows it, too, and so does his sad-eyed wife.

Ev­ery­body knows his tes­ti­mony was theatre — prac­tised and con­trived. It was a per­for­mance scripted by Trump from the book of Joe McCarthy’s Roy Cohn — deny, cry, sigh, lie, deny. It takes a groper to know one and in Ka­vanaugh, Trump had his boy.

Ev­ery­body knows that what should have dis­qual­i­fied Ka­vanaugh was his dis­tem­per, in­dis­cre­tion and bias. It is why 2,400 law pro­fes­sors con­sider him un­fit for the court, as does John Paul Stevens, the for­mer high-court jus­tice. They ab­hor the scorched-earth tac­tics of the white pa­tri­archy led by the mum­bling Mitch McCon­nell.

Ev­ery­body knows that Sen. Su­san Collins is a naïf who is fin­ished in Maine, while the prin­ci­pled Lisa Murkowski will sur­vive in Alaska. The real hero­ine here is Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who voted against Ka­vanaugh. She will lose her seat but not her dig­nity, which was aban­doned by Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina. His er­satz anger in de­fence of Ka­vanaugh may make him Trump’s at­tor­ney gen­eral.

Ev­ery­body knows that this is about power and par­ti­san­ship. It is about fill­ing the court to con­strain, in the fu­ture, a lib­eral pres­i­dent and Congress seek­ing gun con­trol, cam­paign fi­nance re­form, mus­cu­lar vot­ing rights, ac­cess to abortion. The out­rage, the theatrics, the char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion — all were to con­trol the court at all costs.

Amer­i­cans, most of whom op­pose Ka­vanaugh and Trump, see through this. They see this as the tyranny of the mi­nor­ity through pol­i­tics raw and rigged. As Leonard Co­hen sings, “Ev­ery­body knows ... that the dice are loaded ... that the war is over and good guys lost ... that the boat is leak­ing and the cap­tain lied ... that the fight was fixed, and the poor stay poor and the rich get rich ...”

And so now Amer­ica sinks deeper into trib­al­ism and bit­ter­ness over its court, its congress and its pres­i­dent. Brett Ka­vanaugh is the pri­mal scream of a white male es­tab­lish­ment in eclipse. One day there will be a reck­on­ing — and re­venge and re­demp­tion, too. It will, fi­nally, “dis­close what ev­ery­body knows.”


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