Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Peter Baker of The New York Times writes this, under the headline "Trump White House Tests a Nation’s Capacity for Outrage":
After six months in office, Mr. Trump has crossed so many lines, discarded so many conventions, said and done so many things that other presidents would not have, that he has radically shifted the understanding of what is standard in the White House. He has moved the bar for outrage. He has a taste for provocation and relishes challenging Washington taboos. If the propriety police tut tut, he shows no sign of concern....

By now, it takes more to shock. After all, this is a president who refused to release his tax returns or divest from his private businesses, who put his son-in-law and daughter on the White House staff, who accused his predecessor of illegally tapping his phones without proof, who fired the F.B.I. director leading an investigation into the president’s associates and who has now undercut his “beleaguered” attorney general in public. When he talked politics, jabbed the news media and told stories about Manhattan cocktail parties before tens of thousands of children at the nonpartisan National Scout Jamboree here in West Virginia on Monday, it was hardly surprising.
But it's clear that people are shocked and outraged. We've been outraged since Trump became a birther political figure, and especially since he entered the presidential race with an appeal to raw bigotry. We're outraged at his sexism and crudeness and self-dealing and utter contempt for laws and norms that have kept the country intact. Many us of have marched in the streets in outrage. Forty-two percent of us think Trump should be impeached -- that's not a sign of outrage?

Baker, on some level, knows this. He even quotes some people who've expressed outrage at Trump's behavior. But, channeling Trump, he also dismisses the outraged as "propriety police" who "tut tut."

The problem isn't that the nation lacks a capacity for outrage at this moment. It's that one subgroup within the nation -- Republicans -- has the exclusive right to decide when outrage can be acted upon.

Republicans have made it abundantly clear that non-Republican outrage must be contained and neutralized. There won't be "widespread" condemnation of Trump's thuggish Boy Scout speech because Republicans won't condemn it. There'll be no effective congressional response -- no "constitutional crisis" -- if Trump fires Jeff Sessions and Robert Mueller because Republicans will stand in the way. Republicans won't allow any checks on the Trump family's self-dealing. And when it's finally proven that the Trump campaign worked with the Russians to spread stolen emails, Republicans will shut down any effort to punish the president.

Republicans stuck with Trump all through the 2016 campaign, despite one outrage after another. Then Republican voters voted for outrage.

So they decide. The rest of us don't count.

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