Friday, August 18, 2023


Jonathan Chait reminds us that Ben Shapiro, who recently wrote this ...

... once called for the use of RICO laws against Barack Obama and his administration:
In 2014, Shapiro wrote a book titled The People Vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration. Shapiro even explained to Larry King why the RICO Act was the precise tool he wished to employ against Obama:
Shapiro: “I make the case that the RICO Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act from 1970, which allows for civil charges — people can file civil suits — that that be broadened to allow people to sue members of the executive branch. So, the people themselves, essentially, become the guardians of the criminal law. Because, sorry, but I just don’t trust the executive branch to prosecute its own guys.”

King: “What did he do, hands on, that was criminal?”

Shapiro: “Well, you see, this is the problem, this is why you have to use the RICO Act,” Shapiro answered. “So, no president is actually going to do things — unless you’re Richard Nixon, presumably, and there are tapes — is going to have to do things that are particularly hands on. The government is run more like a mafiaesque organization, which is, you have somebody at the top who makes, you know, a basic demand that certain things be done, and somebody at the low level says, ‘OK, well, you know, I want to up my career.’ This is Henry II with Thomas Beckett, ‘Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?’ And someone goes and rids him of the meddlesome priest.”
Over the years, Republicans have often tried to criminalize the behavior of Democrats. Newt Gingrich attacked the ethics of Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright in 1989, and the subsequent investigation led to Wright's resignation. There were multiple investigations of Bill Clinton during his time in the White House, and Republicans made it clear that they also thought Vice President Al Gore was criminally corrupt. Republicans frequently talked about impeaching Barack Obama when he was president, though after a while they concentrated on portraying Hillary Clinton as a criminal.

And now they're upset that the career criminal they sent to the White House in 2016 is up on charges. Chait writes:
Trump’s campaign and presidency followed directly from a mentality that detached the notion of criminality from any actual behavior and turned it into a partisan identity. Trump’s mantra — “The crimes are being committed by the other side” — has become a partywide doctrine.

But this idea, which has tightened its grip on conservative minds over the last generation, is now the dominant theme of the campaign. Trump’s indictments have intensified their humiliation and created an insatiable demand for revenge. The party is no longer running on policy or even culture war. It is now consumed above all with turning the criminal-justice system into an instrument of revenge.
I think the real reason they're humiliated and crave revenge is that they believe they should be the party of smashmouth politics, and they're embarrassed that they've never been able to send a president or presidential candidate or House speaker to prison, while Trump's antagonists might. I think they believe they have a monopoly on political toughness, and Democrats are wusses (which, let's face it, they are much of the time), so a legal assault on one of their own seems to violate the fundamental laws of the universe. They know Trump is a crook, but they think think he ought to be able to get away with being a crook because he's a Republican. Trump is guilty of many crimes, but I'm sure they think they should be able to "create their own reality," one in which he's a selfless patriot who's under attack despite his obvious innocence. They've certainly created that reality within their own bubble, and it's killing them that the rest of us live in the real world, where he's guilty as hell and nearly everyone knows it.

So they think we stole their smashmouth act, and they think we're doing it better. And they can't stand it.

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