The tipping point for Conway was the ousting of attorney general Jeff Sessions and his replacement with a Robert Mueller foil, Matt Whitaker, whose resume doesn’t readily commend itself. Conway has spoken out before, but this is his boldest assault on the president, to date. When silk-stocking conservative lawyers mirror ACLU complaints, it’s an indication that the public can’t be too far behind.
Trump’s act isn’t playing well any more. The brash attacks on political correctness no longer entertain when the president proclaims himself a “nationalist,” and then has to clarify that he’s not a racist. Deploying troops along the border to protect against an “invasion” of Central Americans that is more than fifty-percent women and children on foot, none of whom has leprosy, is a stupid use of political theater that grows dumber by the day.
Every election a Republican lost in 2018 wasn’t because of illegal voting, ballot box stuffing, or liberal chicanery. None was. Everyone who disagrees with Trump isn’t a traitor. Each news outlet that reports unflattering news about Trump isn’t peddling lies and falsehoods. Investigations into his alleged misconduct are not attacks on America. Football players who kneel are not disrespecting the troops or the flag. These are facts, no matter what Trump says.
In the aftermath of Charlottesville, Trump outraged the world with his claim that “there were very fine people on both sides.” It’s ironic that Trump would extend more generous cover to avowed extremists than he does to members of the opposition party. The last two years have been a Rorschach test of what kind of leadership Americans want, salesman Trump, or something better.
Echoes of Nixon-Agnew reverberate through the minds of those alive at the time, though Nixon was far smarter, and infinitely more accomplished than Trump will ever be. Then, as now, an embattled president who stood accused of electoral wrongdoing strove, mightily, to hide potentially damning evidence. The looming indictments of more Trump partisans, maybe even family members, will further test Trump supporters’ heretofore ironclad belief that their man can do no wrong, despite substantial evidence that he has something to hide.
Political science is not science at all. It’s an art, and a craft that evolves over time. Trump’s biggest failing is that he seems incapable of evolution. He’s a modern Manichean, a believer that there are no gray shades, just black and white. The position is a throwback that favors authoritarianism and ignores the complexities of human interactions. There are ills in society but, perhaps, the biggest lie Donald Trump has ever told was uttered at his inauguration, when he said, “I alone can fix it.”