As the President and his Republican allies attack the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Special Counsel, and others in a desperate ploy to discredit those involved in the Russia-Trump investigation, New York Times columnist Charles Blow sees it as a moment of crisis for America.
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Let’s just get this straight: America as we know it is under attack by its own president, and many in Congress are aiding and abetting the assault. This is a most precarious moment for the country.
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 31, 2018
While Blow is reacting to the forced exit of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and the underhanded push by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) to release a biased memo on the investigation, his comment is also an extension of a New York Times column he published Jan. 28 headlined, “Trump Repeats Nixon’s Fateful Panic.”
Blow recalls how Nixon, in his final days, attacked those Watergate investigators and was openly hostile to the press. He complained that he was forced to waste time on a meaningless investigation when he could be “building a better world.”
Nixon called the spiraling investigations a “vicious” and “petty attack.”
“It wasn’t,” Blow reminds us.
“Indeed, the parallels between Trump now and Nixon then are extraordinary…As revelations of wrongdoing multiplied, many Republican senators continued to try to protect and console Nixon.”
Nixon did not use the words “fake news” or say “there was no collusion,” but he and his Vice President Spiro Agnew (until he was forced out in an unrelated kick back scandal) clearly wanted to paint the press as the enemy in order to give the rest of America the idea that they were all on the same side against this intractable foe.
“Nixon’s hostility toward the press grew,” wrote Blow, “and the press was emboldened by his aggression. As one reporter then told The (NY) Times, ‘The president has declared war, and the war is on.”
That should sound familiar. As Trump attacks The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, CBS, NBC and other major media – they become bolder and to many look courageous for standing up to the president in his bully pulpit.
The big difference, of course, is that this president has Fox News, Breitbart and a bunch of wacko right-wing conspiracy theorists ready to rally to his cause, even as his reputation for subverting generations of progressive programs, as a womanizer, his pile of lies, his love for white supremacists, his hatred of blacks (like Blow), his inhumane treatment of immigrants feed his shrinking but loyal “base.”
The articles of impeachment brought against Nixon, Blow points out, could also ring true today. He was charged with impeding the administration of justice, violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the administration of justice, and “contravening the law’s governing agencies,” like the FBI and DOJ, among other things.
As Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein has recently pointed out, as Nixon went down there were top Republicans that he calls “heroes” because the stood up for the due process of law and the constitution, instead of just playing party politics,
“These are different times,” writes Blow, adding that today Republicans are “so infected with Trumpism, so fevered in its defense of him, so completely compromised by its alignment with him, that its members are not placing the well-being of the nation and fidelity to the Constitution first and foremost.”
In Nixon’s case, when it was clear his presidency would not survive, the Republicans did come around. It is not nearly a sure thing it will happen with Trump. Still, Blow sees signs that this president is on the Nixonian road.
“We now see Trump trying to portray an air of confidence and control,” wrote Blow, “but being betrayed at every turn by his own actions, which reveal a panicked man looking to purge anyone conducting an honest investigation.”
Instead of Republicans edging away from Trump, they have doubled down and are helping him manufacture false flags like the disgusting Devin Nunes document that exposes classified data and his bias, all in the name of protecting Trump at all costs.
“These folks are engaged in an attack on the country from within,” wrote Blow, echoing his tweet today. “They are attacking our institutions. They are attacking the truth. All of this is being done to protect Trump rather than protect America.”
“This inches us further away from democracy and closer to despotism,” wrote Blow. “Might as well call a thing a thing.”
What that seems to mean is that while in the end the politicians took down Nixon to save the republic, but this time around the Republicans in control of both Houses of Congress and the White House are going toward an authoritarian government, possibly a dictatorship, where Trump is elevated to a kind of king instead of the fortunate court jester the rest of us know him to be.