Sunday, December 16, 2018


I'm a few days late getting to this clip, but it seems to be going semi-viral, so I'll just say a few words about it. It's Donny Deutsch on MSNBC this past Wednesday, talking about Donald Trump's legal troubles:

Deutsch says:
The word "blood" is important, and what's interesting, we've been focusing, rightfully so, on Russia, on the payments to these women. Let me say this unequivocally, as a guy who spent most of his career in business in New York, in the advertising business, in the real estate business, in the fashion business. It's a small world. Donald Trump, in the industry of real estate developers, which is kind of a -- bit of a slimy business to begin with, was known as the bottom of the bottom of the bottom of the food chain. I have heard story after story. This is a criminal guy. You have to do a dotted line to Letitia Jones [sic], the [incoming] attorney general of New York, who came out today and said, "Oh, we're just starting with this foundation, we're starting with the organization." Russia and Stormy Daniels are the least of his problems. To your point: What is going to put him in jail eventually, what is going to destroy everything he has ever built and his children, is a thirty-year dishonest criminal enterprise. That is what -- one thing will take him out of the presidency. The other thing will ruin him forever.
Deutsch may not know the name of the state's newly elected attorney general (it's Letitia James), but he's in a position to know about Trump's career -- and I think he's right, at least, that this is what should destroy Trump, what really might take him down, more than Russia or adulterous affairs. I continue to believe that this is America and we don't punish the folks in the upper echelons anyomre, but maybe we'll make an exception for Trump and his family.

However, I have some disagreements with what Deutsch says next:
And on top of that, the political incentive for every U.S. attorney in New York or in Virginia to do it is: This guy showed up and tried to undo what 250 years of people have been dying for in this country -- who we are, what we stand for. So there is a moral imperative. What we are about. What our grandfathers died for. Democracy. He single-handedly is the first guy in our lifetime to try to undo that, and he is going to pay for that the rest of his life as they pick apart his criminal enterprise. This is the very, very beginning of the story.
I agree with this characterization of Trump -- he really is a guy who's willing to take America down, though it's not clear if this is because he's loyal to foreign autocrats who might throw him some business or because his politcal philosophy is a crackpot stew of isolationism and compulsive fight-picking with foreign governments. He's also an illiterate narcissist who thinks that the work and thought that his predecessors put into their stewardship of America was a lot of hooey, and was no substitute for the unerring genius of his gut. And his narcissism prevents him from caring about institutions the rest of us rely on, from NATO to birthright citizenship.

But it's odd for Deutsch to describe the anti-Trump fight in terms of patriotism, because in America it's never considered patriotic to challenge the Republican Party. Ever since 1968, or maybe 1964, or maybe the McCarthy Era, it's been an article of faith in Heartland America that the GOP is the party of patriotism and its opponents are all dissenters and rootless cosmopolitans, if not outright traitors. Right now, the Democrats, anti-Trump Republicans, and non-politcal investigators seeking to bring Trump to justice really are the patriots -- but much of the country doesn't believe that, and never will. It ought to be the case that Trump's opponents are seen now as the people with the monopoly on patriotism -- but I think the exact opposite is still closer to our political reality. That's why The New York Times keeps interviewing all those old white men in Pennsylvania diners. It's why so much of the politcal press is concerned about the fate of The Weekly Standard and the possibility of a 2020 primary challenge to Trump. They're rooting for a revival of the American party, as they see it -- the GOP.

New York and Virginia are parts of blue America. It's good politics in those states to go after Trump. But the effort should be seen as more -- as an attempt to save America. Deutsch is right about this -- but I don't think America gets it.

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