Every day, life in America gets more surreal. (Not “When Harry Met Sally” surreal–more “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” surreal.)
Almost every day, there is a departure from the White House. Although no one currently serving there is particularly knowledgable or professional (or, from all appearances, literate) some are reasonably sane–and they’re the ones who have been leaving. Yesterday, it was McMasters–one of the two normal military figures who were supposed to be protecting the nation from Trump’s nuclear fantasies.
If McMasters’ ouster wasn’t worrisome enough, we have learned that he will be replaced by John Bolton, a belligerent chickenhawk who is certifiably loony-tunes.
So here we are. We have a Congress dominated by a Republican Party that is a cross between a cult and a criminal enterprise; a President who hasn’t the foggiest notion what government is, or is supposed to do, and who is uninterested in learning; a looming trade war we can’t win that is likely to devastate the nation’s farmers, among others–and now, a not-insignificant threat that the U.S. will precipitate a nuclear war.
In a column for the Washington Post, Joe Scarborough (formerly a Republican congressman) called Bolton’s appointment a “fitting coda” to the failure of conservatism.
One hundred years ago this week, the founder of modern American conservatism was born into poverty in Plymouth, Mich. Russell Kirk’s “The Conservative Mind,” published in 1953, laid the foundations of a modern conservative movement that dominated the second half of the American Century. But 65 years later, Kirk’s classic work reads instead as a damning indictment against the very movement he helped launch.
The central thesis of Kirk’s philosophy was that “the conservative abhors all forms of ideology” and subscribes to principles “arrived at by convention and compromise” instead of “fanatic ideological dogmata.” Six decades of Republican overreach and corrosive causes have instead led to the rise of Donald Trump and a foreign policy run by John Bolton, an economy guided by Larry Kudlow and a legal team led by conspiracy theorist Joseph DiGenova.
Bolton will be Trump’s third national security adviser in 14 months, but unlike his predecessors, he may last; his history suggests he has a lot in common with our intemperate, reckless and profoundly ignorant President. As Scarborough reminds us, Bolton has called for the preemptive bombing of North Korea and Iran. He has defended his role in taking the U.S. into the Iraq war–a war that was the worst U.S. foreign policy disaster since Vietnam–and had the chutzpah to call Obama’s 2011 decision to bring U.S. troops home “the worst decision” made in that debacle.
This was the predictable outcome of my Republican Party aligning its interests with the most cynical political operators of our time. The Atwaters, Manaforts, Gingriches and Roves leveraged a weaponized media culture that reduced politics to a secularized religion and consolidated political power and material wealth in the hands of its richest donors.
Meanwhile, no matter how bad it gets, no matter how much damage is being done every day by Trump and the most inept and corrupt Cabinet in my lifetime, Congressional Republicans continue to obediently enable this farce of an Administration. According to 538. com, all of Indiana’s GOP Representatives enthusiastically support Trump’s “agenda.” Two of them–Susan Brooks and Larry Bucshon–have voted with the President 98.6% of the time.
There are seven months until the midterm elections. Assuming we make it to November without experiencing a nuclear winter, we absolutely must give control of the House and Senate to the Democrats. Are they perfect? Hell no. But at least they’re mostly sane.