In a bit of mixed messaging, Trump vouched for the fairness of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and, in virtually the same breath, declared he could do anything he wanted with the Department of Justice, Mueller’s employer. It’s a bit like Napoleon saying Wellington was going to be kind to him. It was, also, completely at odds with what many see as a shift in strategy from belligerent intolerance, to ad hominem attacks on the Special Counsel and the FBI, from people who surround this President.
In the weeks before the interview, a new, more ominous term was being used to describe Trump’s adversaries when the FBI, Mueller, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, were accused of mounting a coup. It’s a grievous insult to the men and women of the Department of Justice, and the FBI, an agency that has protected the country for a hundred and ten years. Former Director James Comey told Congress that the FBI is not perfect and has made mistakes but no one, ever, has accused the Bureau of treason.
Notwithstanding, a commentator on Fox News, recently, demanded that Mueller, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, should be marched out of their offices in handcuffs. It’s the kind of sentiment Tony Soprano would express around a table at Bada Bing when discussing the Feds who were looking into his affairs.
The coarsening of politics in the age of Trump and the disregard for thoughtful discourse and persuasion is a direct by-product of the intellectual laziness the President has cultivated among his followers, both on the campaign trail, and in the White House. Trump, famously, told raucous crowds that he “loves the uneducated.” He might have added, but didn’t, that they’re easier to dupe, one of the reasons for the consumer and environmental protections Trump is dismantling as fast as possible, irrespective of who gets hurts.
Critical thinking has been degraded by Trump in favor of labels, name-calling, and a tally sheet that charts wins and losses, instead of causes and effects. The chorus of sycophants willing to describe how blessed it is to work for the President won’t diminish until enough Americans look behind the screen and see that the Great Wizard is not.
One of the great fallacies Aristotle identified was an appeal to authority. Trump used it to great advantage when he declared himself the only person who could end American carnage, restore our greatness, and ensure our liberty because he was a successful businessman, rich as Croesus, and the smartest man he’d ever met. Enough people were willing to buy his patent medicine that, when combined with the intolerant and xenophiles, Trump got elected to lead. In 2018, we’ll see more exactly where his yellow brick road leads. Happy New Year!