A few of you wrote in in response to my post on the sheer “normalness,” the “mundaneness” of the prosecution of Donald Trump. You took me to task, arguing that this is all far from normal. It’s a crisis, in fact. Nothing about Trump’s time on the political stage is normal.
I think we are speaking past each other.
Donald Trump was and is a continuing crisis for the American republic. I would never deny that. I’ve made this claim central to almost everything I’ve written about him going back almost eight years. But managing our own emotional and cognitive equilibrium is central to handling someone like Donald Trump. That is both to live in a sane and ethical way while he marauds through our political life and because bending reality is central to the kind of threat he presents.
At a political rally yesterday Trump said this prosecution represented the “final battle.” The threat of violence in that statement speaks for itself. But this is Trump’s basic pattern. Everything is the final battle, the biggest this or that ever, the biggest surprise, the biggest hoax, the final showdown. It’s this hyped up, florid moral state that keeps his supporters spellbound and his foes constantly guessing and often off-balance.
It is wise not to participate in the reality distortion field the man whips up about him. This man is not the President. Yes, he is a leading candidate for President. But he declared his candidacy when he did to a great degree because he knew these charges were coming. Before the indictment and now more expansively in the indictment, it’s clear that these are far from technical violations of the law. They show a willful theft of government secrets, ongoing deception about the theft, continued efforts to deceive federal agents trying to recover the government’s secret documents. The conduct is so brazen and over the top that it would be virtually impossible for any prosecuting authority to decline to prosecute other than on the basis of Trump’s status giving him immunity from the law or for fear of the violence of his supporters.
Everyone knows these basic facts. His supporters can pretend otherwise. But they know it. So this is a normal and inevitable result of Trump’s own conduct. I refuse to pretend otherwise or indulge the charade that anyone who wants to argue the point doesn’t realize all of this is true. At heart they simply think Trump is different. He’s the leader. The law doesn’t apply to him. He’s too important for the law to apply to him. Since that is their position I’ll wait for them to say it out loud.
Will Trump diehards commit acts of violence? Maybe. But I’m going to wait to see them do it. I’m not going to pump up the psychic tenor of the moment based on what they hint they might do on Twitter. When a Freedom Caucus dead-ender like Clay Higgins hints at mobilizing a Trump guerrilla army I am going to properly refer to him as another terror-inciting degenerate and basically say, “Go for it.” That’s not taunt or bravado. It’s just a refusal to get psyched out. If that’s what you need to do, do it and we’ll go from there. I will assume federal authorities are taking all necessary precautions. And that’s it. If there’s another version of those feral goons plotting to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, federal authorities will arrest them.
It’s important to react to each development on the merits and not get ahead of it.
Trump’s indictment is very straightforward and unsurprising. I’m not going to get waylaid or bamboozled into pretending otherwise.