Polls have Bernie Sanders winning the early heats for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination which kick off in Iowa next week. If he’s to be the nominee, we had better hope the Senate removes Donald Trump from office ahead of the general election. There’s little chance America’s voters will do the job if the alternative is a hectoring old lefty.
Sure, the Democratic candidate will get the most votes, as she did last time, but with the Trump lies-fear-and-hate machine at full throttle it is hard to see a self-declared socialist putting together a majority where it counts, in the electoral college.
The Democrat Trump fears most is former vice president Joe Biden. But Biden could yet become the Democratic version of the Republicans’ Jeb Bush in 2016 — the establishment favourite blown out of the water when MAGA-hatted primary voters staged a revolt. Sanders would be the Democrats’ Trump, the outsider who eats the party. And even if doesn’t win the nomination, there are enough fanatics in his camp to spoil things for whoever does.
Trump may have got himself impeached for demanding help against Biden from Ukraine’s Wolodymyr Zelensky, but assuming he survives his Senate trial he will still have achieved his objective: terminally slime Biden as a veteran Washington swamp creature who, at minimum, turned a blind eye while his son raked in fifty grand a month from a dodgy Ukrainian gas company.
Beyond the coastal metropoles and the Twittersphere, America has not been paying much attention to the trial. Minds are as much made up outside the Senate chamber as they are inside. For the Democratic tribe, Trump is an existential threat to the constitution. For the Republican tribe, the president is the target of a coup attempt.
Trump’s defense strategy has been less about refuting the charges than about getting a rise out of his enemies, helped by a legal team of you-couldn’t-make-this-up awfulness.
There’s Ken Starr, the prurient Inspector Javert set on by Republicans to destroy Bill Clinton. There’s Alan Dershowitz, the lawyer and TV talking head you call if you’re rich, famous and guilty as sin. His clients have included OJ Simpson, Eurotrash inheritance-hunter Claus von Bulow and Jeffrey Epstein. There’s Jay Sekulow, founder of a non-profit which pays him and his family millions raised in grotesquely cynical appeals to working class evangelicals.
And let’s not forget Pam Bondi, who, as Florida attorney general, turned a blind eye to Trump’s fraudulent university after receiving an illegal donation from his fraudulent foundation. She’s now on a $115 000-month retainer lobbying for Qatar.
Of course, good help is increasingly hard to find if you’re Trump. Who of any quality, having seen him axe and humiliate grown-up after grown-up, would want to work for him? Only, it would seem, shameless sycophants like Rex Tillerson’s Foggy Bottom successor Mike Pompeo, a thug no other president of either party would ever have dreamt of naming the country’s top diplomat.
Which brings us to John Bolton, a weird choice to replace HR McMaster as national security adviser in 2018 given the gulf between his ultrahawkish neoconservative views and Trump’s autocrat-infatuated isolationism. Naturally, he didn’t last either.
Bolton has a reputation as a ninja inside knife fighter. Guessing how a draft of his smoking gun memoir, The Room Where it Happened, found its way from White House reviewers to the New York Times, is the Washington parlour game du jour. If someone was trying to blow a hole through the claim of executive privilege behind which Trump has been cowering, this was a clever way to do it
Have we reached a Valkyrie moment for the Trump regime, with Bolton as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg planting a book in the bunker instead of a bomb? Pray that this attempt is more successful.