I have to admit, I wallowed in Watergate. What is happening with the administration at present is not Watergate. Watergate is the descriptive term for a scandal of mis-administration perpetrated with slick lawyering, nifty abuses of campaign finance accounting, and keeping all of it under wraps by the coordination of choreographed White House maneuvers…until it wasn’t.
The current mess is better characterized by blundering legal bluster, unethical campaign finance and possible quid pro quo donations made possible by dark and darker money, and spilling out all over the landscape in bits, pieces, and contradictory dueling press releases. We’re in Act 5 Scene 5, Dunsinane Castle…
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
Unfortunately for the occupant of the Oval Office, the news is leaking out daily, and none of it particularly good. Information about Watergate came to light in chunks, by contrast the travails of this administration is streaming out every twenty-four hours. Almost by the hour in every twenty-four. Minute by minute? Granted that Nixon wasn’t further beleaguered by the copious maw of cable news, but the cover-up was indeed a cover-up until the tapes were released. Nixon enjoyed more consistent popular support than the current administration until late Summer 1974. Richard Nixon’s average poll rating during his second term was 34.4%, a figure brought down by a July-August 1974 rating of 24%. Again, in contrast, the current Oval Office occupant hasn’t broken the 50% rate since the inauguration, and now sits about 39%. [Gallup] Considering the daily dose of leaks, press releases, and other negative stories the administration is already at a point not “achieved” by the Nixon administration until rather late in the game.
To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death.
In the present tense we’re looking at political death — the slow demise of benighted individuals who are seeking short term safety at the expense of long range security; and, if the airwaves are replete with Nixonian references now, think what historians will do with this later.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
We have a President strutting and fretting upon his stage, and a rather poor player at that. Further, he is playing a part the script for which is poorly written. He cannot, or will not, separate himself and his administration from the tender embrace of Russian influence.
Scene 5a: It’s now common knowledge that during the transition period the incoming administration was open to rolling back the sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration, and to opening channels (one using Russian facilities) for more communication with the Putin regime. [Newsweek] Trump was indeed open to returning the Russian compounds in New York and Maryland to please the Russian government. [WaPo] By mid-July 2017 the talks concerning the return of the compounds and the reassignment of some 35 Russian diplomats broke down. [LAT]
Scene 5b: That back-channel communication proposal forwarded by Jared Kushner is also in the public domain, how convenient it would be to have an open communications connection between the administration and Putin via Russian controlled (and presumably monitored) facilities? [NYT] Nothing is better designed to give the appearance of kow-towing to the Russian regime than to allow them to open communications with the administration in ways that would be obscured to US intelligence? The trick to running a cover up is to keep things covered up — NOT to see them in print in the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, Bloomberg News,….
Scene 5c: Another trick to running a cover up is not to have your National Security Adviser resign less than a month after his appointment because his dealings with the Russians are not only coming to light, but are fully centered in the midst of media 1000 watt tungsten lighting.
Scene 5d: Surely no one will think the Oval Office occupant is fretting on stage about his Russian connections coming into that studio lighting if he fires Sally Yates? Fires Michael Flynn? US Attorney Preet Bharara? FBI Director James Comey? Forced out Dana Boente? Forced out Andrew McCabe? Asked Rod Rosenstein for “loyalty?” Discusses how he wants to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller? Fumes over the recusal of AG Jeff Sessions? Gee, what’s so inconspicuous about a herd of people heading to the exits?
Scene 5e: And, what could be less conspicuous than getting right smack dab in the middle of a fight with one’s own Department of Justice over releasing what amounts to a Republican press release emanating from the staff of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA/Moscow Oblast)?
…it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing
Pro-tip: When running a cover up operation it is extremely helpful to have competent legal advice. There is nothing about the current defense of the Oval Office occupant that doesn’t reek of one of the oldest cliches in the legal lexicon: “If the facts aren’t on your side argue the law, if the law isn’t on your side argue the facts; and if both aren’t on your side pound the table,” added to the next oldest cliche, “If your client can’t provide a defense, put the prosecution on trial.”
There’s a reason four top law firms declined to offer their services to the Oval Office occupant — “He won’t pay and he won’t listen.” [L&C] And so we are left with table pounding lawyers and spokespersons who are attempting to divert, distract, and demean (intelligence agencies, DoJ, FBI, etc.) by any means possible, and we will likely have them until the GOP has run out of gerrymandering, vote suppressing, and influence campaigns and voters elect a competent Congress.
In the mean time, it probably isn’t a good thing to demean Nixon’s hour upon the stage by comparing his almost lucid cover up operations with a scrambled inarticulate and self-contradictory melange of imbecility offered up by the current administration.