Thursday, September 6, 2018

Mutiny in the Oval Office

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News September 12, 2018

History can be the stuff of fiction and fiction can become the stuff  played out in history.  This past week the pre-release of a  book by  Bob Woodward,  an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times, and the Senate committee’s hearing/grilling of the President’s nominee for Supreme Court Justice ,Brett Kavanaugh, read like fiction, but all were  far too disquieting. This was not movies like “Mutiny on the Bounty” or  “The Caine Mutiny ”.  It was  real life in real time unfolding before our very eyes,  except  the final scene has not been written.  Like one of those computer games where you can choose among story line options,  the Congress, the media, and the American people still have a chance to rewrite the ending.
A Senate  hearing about whether to approve Kavanaugh to the highest court unveiled a candidate who once opined a view of the Constitution that could save the current  captain from walking the proverbial plank.  He refused to comment on past stated beliefs  that no president in office should be subject to a criminal investigation while in office, leaving us wondering how he would vote should  Mueller investigation issues were challenged  before the highest court.  Kavanaugh in the past has also advocated giving the executive branch greater power in executing laws and regulations, weakening the concept of checks and balances and separation of powers. His view appears to be  the three branches of government are equal except the executive branch is more equal than others.(Apologies to George Orwell in Animal Farm: "all animals are equal though some animals are more equal than others"). Granting more  power to an anti-democratic, imperial wannabe president like  Trump is a scary idea.
Both the pre release excerpts the Woodward  book and the New York Times anonymous op-ed painted a picture of an Oval Office in chaos by a "senior official" who observed President Trump “continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic” and saw it was a duty to protect the country from an “the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” Senator  Bob Corker (R-Tenn) commenting on the Op-Ed: "This is what all of us have understood to be the situation from day one.”.. For the public not privy to such belt way cloak room  whispers, what was chilling was learning   how close we came to war or damaging our  ally by  removing a trade treaty with South Korea or  the issuance of   an assassination order on the Syrian president, which the staff  “resistance” said it thwarted.
 As predicted, the President called the Woodward book  “a total piece of fiction” and tweeted king-like about the op-ed as   “TREASON?” .. “If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!” and demanded the Justice Department find the disloyal author. Nevermind the writer had not committed a crime and did not conspire with a foreign power.  Trump  launched a hunt for the writer with obsessed rage like  the deranged captains of the Bounty and the Caine who were  determined to find who stole their cheese or strawberries.  With an NBC/you gov poll showing 60% of Americans considering him usually dishonest, his credibility carries little weight compared to the track record of Bob Woodward’s meticulous documentation and reputation from Watergate until the current era.
  That the  GOP controlled Congress would take any action to be a check on this executive's abuse of powers  is wishful fantasy.  If anyone is gutless, it is the GOP Congress . It was their inaction that left the in -White House “resistance” as a last resort to check what they saw as an out of control President.
 The last remaining  voice in this all is the court of public opinion expressed in the ballot box  this November that could give a backbone for Congress to perform a check on executive power as our founders envisioned.  Voters in November will have the ability  to shape the final chapter and set our democracy sailing on a corrected course.

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