Tuesday, February 18, 2020


Here are responses to today's pardon spree from President Trump:

But when has Trump ever bothered to "lay the groundwork" for more outrageous conduct in the future? Trump just does things, and dares us to object, or to stop him.

I think Ioffe is right about owning the libs -- everything Republicans do is, at least in part, intended to own the libs. But I think the Daily Beast's Justin Baragona and Asawin Suebsaeng have the simplest explanation:
Trump Grants Clemency to Another Round of Crooks He Saw on Fox News

President Donald Trump on Tuesday granted clemency to 11 people, including several convicted felons who are either Fox News regulars or have been championed by the president’s favorite cable-news network.

Among those granted pardons or sentence commutations were former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for attempting to sell former President Barack Obama’s Senate seat; former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was sentenced to four years in 2010 for tax fraud and lying to the feds; and Michael Milken, the “junk-bonds king” whose early-'90s insider-trading conviction made him a poster boy of white-collar crime.

Unsurprisingly, a key influence that led to Trump’s decision, particularly as it related to Blagojevich, was Fox News. The same could partly be said of the decision on Kerik, a frequent Fox News guest whose pardon was backed by several of the network’s stars; Milken, whose pardon was supported by Fox Business Network host and Trump loyalist Maria Bartiromo; and Angela Stanton, an occasional pro-Trump TV pundit whose pardon was pushed by frequent Fox News guest and evangelical leader Alveda King.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Trump made the Fox News connection abundantly clear, telling reporters that he decided to commute the rest of Blagojevich’s sentence because he’d seen the ex-governor’s wife Patti Blagojevich pleading her husband’s case on Fox.

“I watched his wife on television,” Trump declared....
After Trump's acquittal in the impeachment trial, he should be unleashed -- seriously, what is preventing him from pardoning all the people cited by Steve Benen, and doing it right now? Would there be angry editorials? Open letters of protest signed by retired Justice Department officials? Expressions of deep concern from Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski?

His poll numbers wouldn't go down -- he's never been popular, but nothing makes his approval rating drop significantly, and it never declines for very long. He'd still be competitive in head-to-head polling with the top Democrats running against him, though he'd probably a few points behind -- but he probably doesn't need to win the popular vote to win the election. So why the hesitancy?

For that matter, why doesn't he do even more shocking things? Why hasn't he ordered critics poisoned? There's nothing he could do that would diminish his standing in the eyes of his worshipful fans, and nothing that would lead to even a mild rebuke that could survive both houses of Congress. What's restraining him?

Partly it's his narrow focus -- he doesn't know history, so he lacks the imagination to see himself as a true dictator with unlimited power. The world of his imaginings is circumscribed by what he sees on his favorite news channel, where he's treated like the rest of the audience, helpless exurb-dwellers made to fear and hate enemies who are said to have cheated their way to power (Democrats, Hollywood stars, George Soros).

Beyond that, I think he prefers to think of the world as a place with rules that he -- to his own great delight -- gets away with breaking. It's as if he can't imagine creating a new world with no rules other than his own decrees; it's as if he'd rather cheat the system than destroy it.

Somewhere there are young right-wing megalomaniacs who know precisely what they'd do with the power Trump has now. One of them will probably have his job in the near future. We have it bad now, but it could be even worse.

No comments: