It came in a torrent last week on our streaming platforms, our screens, and social media: A PM ousted, a former PM assassinated, a presidential palace overrun by the people
SUMMIT COUNTY COLORADO — Last week, all these political events were parallax:
“The apparent displacement,” Miriam Webster states, “or the difference in apparent direction of an object as seen from two different points not on a straight line with the object.”
Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, resigned under enormous pressure as dozens of his senior team, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Health Minister, resigned their posts. They could not take it any more.
They and a clear majority of their Conservative Party caucus could not abide by the lies and the prevarications, the twisting of words and denial of responsibility, hypocrisy on issues and personal conduct, the selfishness of the man at the pinnacle who could never reform himself, and therefore could never regain the confidence of the electorate.
Two impossible-to-lose by-election seats were lost last month, and the chairman of the party resigned too. The PM was not taking responsibility, but the chairman did. Johnson narrowly survived a vote of confidence in his party room just five weeks ago – but not by a sufficient margin to keep his job, exactly as we saw with Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher in their time in power.
In Washington, the political class had a parallax view.
A president lied and continues to lie about the 2020 election; is at the centre of an historic insurrection against the Capitol in an effort to overturn the election. And yet the Republican Party does not turn on Donald Trump.
The Republican leaders in the House swear allegiance to him as they prepare to take control of their chamber next year. Most Senate Republicans support Trump’s policies, from guns to abortion. The Republicans see the hearings of the January 6 Select Committee on the insurrection, and hear the testimony that Trump wanted to join the mob that attacked the Capitol, that Trump was indifferent to whether the mob would hang Vice President Mike Pence, that Trump acts like a child and bully at mealtime in the White House dining room.
But when Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and former Attorney General Bill Barr are asked, after all the terrifying tumult of January 2021, after they speak the truth of what Trump did and that they opposed it, if he is the nominee in 2024, will they vote for him? Yes, they say, they will.
Parallax: A PM is forced out by his party. A disgraced former president, who would never accept being deposed by his party, is lionised by his party as he prepares to run for office again
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated by a gunman in the city of Nara. Shock is an understatement. Japan effectively bans guns. There are only a handful of gun deaths each year. The killing of Abe rocked the country. But as American journalists reported on this, the jarring chasm between Japan and the United States is an open wound. As Judy Woodruff for the PBS NewsHour observed:
“With the assassination today of the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a country where there’s so few, I mean, almost vanishingly few instances of gun violence, and then the contrast to our country, where I looked it up again, over 300 mass shootings already this year in the United States, and then punctuated by the July 4 massacre of seven people and many more wounded in the Chicago suburb, we’re — it reminds us where we are as a country, doesn’t it?
Yes, a country with 400 million guns and a population of 330 million people. A country that could never consider a gun buyback program as occurred in Australia after the Port Arthur massacre. A country where 60% of Americans want to ban assault weapons. A country where none of this will occur – because the political system, on this issue and on abortion rights, does not permit the will of the people to be expressed, and the political system’s leaders are too weak to fix the system.
Parallax: Shock and renewed unity in Japan; shock and resignation in America to the knowledge that more massacres will occur, and soon.
In Sri Lanka, the good people of that country have had enough of the corruption from the top, of the collapse of the economy, of the desperate daily search for food and fuel, of the hopelessness that has crushed the country’s spirit, of the bankruptcy of the political class and its leaders. Over the weekend, the presidential palace was overrun, and the prime minister and president could not restore order. The president pledges to resign, but we will see. Ultimately, the crowds will retire from the palace, with democracy and anti-corruption the goals. But rebuilding Sri Lanka will be an almost-unbearable burden.
Where did we last see images like this on our screens? On January 6 last year, when a mob of people overran the Capitol. If the president had had his way that day, he would not have ended his term in office, but stayed permanently in office.
Parallax: In Colombo, a cry of rage to restore Sri Lanka. In Washington, a cry of rage to destroy America.
Stay tuned. More parallax is coming soon to a screen near you.
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Trump’s campaign tactic – debase and disgrace the legal process
Donald Trump, former president of the United States, hated Arraignment Day I in Manhattan two months ago, the first time a former president had been criminally charged.
Trump was being forced against his will into a proceeding he had utter contempt for. He was being arrested and fingerprinted and photographed under an indictment under the jurisdiction of Manhattan in New York City for allegations of hush money payments and fraudulent bookkeeping practices to conceal criminal activity. Trump heard the charges read out against him and he entered a plea of not guilty.
Trump had a terrible day. Trump wore a scowl throughout. His countenance was fearsome. What Trump hated most about his arraignment in New York is that he had to sit at a table with his counsel side by side with him — equal to him — and with the judge above him looking down on him. Trump could not control the discussion and could not interrupt to make his points.
Trump was subordinate to the judge. He was subordinate to no one as president.
Arraignment Day II
Arraignment Day II in Miami will be worse from Trump, even more stressful. The charges are substantially more serious: the alleged violation of federal criminal statutes involving the alleged mishandling and illegal possession of classified documents, lying to legal authorities, and obstruction of justice. Potential penalties run to years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.
Trump throughout his business life had always crafted his affairs to avoid being a defendant. But in his term in office, he was caught up in it big time. He was a defendant in two impeachment trials – again, unprecedented events – and left office in disgrace.
But Trump does not feel disgraced. He never does. Trump does not have a reverse gear. He never retreats. Never admits. Never concedes. Never yields. Trump is never embarrassed. Trump never feels ashamed. When something goes wrong, it is always the fault of someone else.
Bill Barr SLAMS his former boss:— Republicans against Trump (@RpsAgainstTrump) June 11, 2023
“He’s not a victim here. He was totally wrong that he had the right to have those documents. Those documents are among the most sensitive secrets that the country has…He had no right to maintain them and retain them”pic.twitter.com/VViNFpwbzt
And Trump never repents.
Trump can feel this way because Trump is waging war on behalf of his armies in “the final battle” for the future of the county. In his first, fiery post-indictment speech in Georgia, Trump said, “They’ve launched one witch hunt after another to try and stop our movement, to thwart the will of the American people. In the end, they’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you … “Either we have a Deep State, or we have a Democracy…Either the Deep State destroys America, or WE destroy the Deep State.”
It is a powerful formulation, and his true believers love it.
Hours later, In North Carolina, Trump mainlined his distilled message for the Republican crowd:
“We are a failing nation. We are a nation in decline. And now these radical left lunatics want to interfere with our elections by using law enforcement.
It’s totally corrupt and we cannot let it happen.
.@RepDanGoldman: "Donald Trump believed the law does not apply to him, and that he would do anything he could to conceal and maintain possession of highly, highly classified national security information that would jeopardize our national security." https://t.co/IfX8bV4EVk pic.twitter.com/Gvjv8aNFkn— The Hill (@thehill) June 11, 2023
This is the final battle.
With you at my side we will demolish the Deep State.
We will expel the warmongers from our government.
We will drive out the globalists.
We will cast out the communists.
We will throw off the sick political class that hates our country.
We will roll out the fake news media.
We will defeat Joe Bide and we will liberate America from those villains once and for all.”
Any lesser mortal would be staggered by these events. Any other presidential candidate would be driven from the race. But not Trump.
Debase and disgrace
Trump is using the same playbook today as he successfully triggered after being charged in New York: debase and disgrace the legal process by terming it completely political. Trump said the federal indictment is “election interference at the highest level.”
Almost every other Republican running for president has adopted this line, insulating Trump from pressure to leave the field.
Trump’s chief opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said after these indictments: “The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation.”
Republican congressperson Nancy Mace: “This is a banana republic. I can’t believe this is happening.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene: “Democrats are arresting their political enemies. and they work together in their corrupt ways to get it done.”
Trump is using his affliction to raise millions of dollars from his base.
Trump will likely face Arraignment Day III in Georgia in August. A state prosecutor is expected to charge Trump with criminal interference in the certification of Georgia’s vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
As of now, there is no sign of cracks in Trump’s support among Republican voters. There is no surge to another candidate. What remains to be seen is whether Republican voters, as they see Trump spend his days in courtrooms and his evenings at rallies around the country, reach a conclusion that this is a spectacle too far, too much to bear, and that they want to turn to another conservative populist who stands for them in the political trials— and not the criminal trials – of 2024.
Donald Trump’s legal woes will serve him well
It’s not often that a U.S. President faces federal indictment, but if it’s going to happen to anyone, it might as well be Donald Trump first.
The news that Donald Trump is facing a federal investigation over the removal of secret documents from the White House in 2021 came as no surprise.
Keen watches of the Washington soap opera have seen this playbook before, albeit in a different form.
There is no doubt that Donald Trump is a Washington outsider. But as seriously damaged as he may be (thanks to the events of January 6), his support base has only grown whenever he faces scrutiny.
For his supporters, his legal woes mirror their own relationship with the government – a giant, unfair beast that picks and chooses its fights.
Trump is accused of storing sensitive documents—including those concerning matters of national security—in boxes, some even in a shower.
The documents were seized last August when investigators from the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.
The Department of Justice has historically avoided charging people who are running for public office. Whether they should do that is a debate for another day. But it’s happening now. And it’s making it all too easy for Trump to claim there is a concerted campaign to get him away from the White House.
Trump exposed the deep state. IF they exist, they probably don’t want him back in power. Whether they exist doesn’t matter really, because plenty of Trump’s supporters agree with him, and believe the secret state is working against them. Call it QAnon, call it a conspiracy – it doesn’t matter in a democracy.
The DoJ now has to go all in. Failing to secure a conviction would be a serious embarrassment for the department.
This is the second time Trump has been indicted in recent months, yet the opinion polls show he only increases his popularity among MAGA and Republican voters. It leaves the Republican party in a difficult position. Support their leading candidate or support the law?
As other Republicans rallied around the embattled candidate, Trump held on to his loyal base of supporters.
For the Democrats, and for Biden, another reality will soon sink in – if Trump becomes President, and they lose office next year, how will a Trump-run DoJ deal with them?
Broadly, the tit-for-tat one-up-manship of U.S. politics is breaking tradition and potentially breaking the country.
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