By Thomas Adcock
Copyright © 2022 – Thomas Adcock
NEW YORK CITY, near America
In mid-November, one of the world’s most frequently alleged criminals announced his intention to once more seek the Republican Party nomination for president of the United States. The campaign slogan this time: “Make America Glorious Again.”
This big news of little surprise came as part of a nearly ninety-minute litany of Donald J. Trump’s usual resentments, delivered from behind a gold-plated dais before a captive audience in a banquet room at Mar-a-Lago, the golf resort in Florida that doubles as home since his native New York City would have no more of him.
Replicating a cheese character from the nursery rhyme “Farmer in the Dell,” the cheddar-complexioned Mr. Trump stood rather sadly alone behind the golden dais. There he spoke, woodenly, of resurrecting some imagined Shangra-la of yesteryear. It was an ironic proposition, given the corruption and cruelty of his recently dissolved presidency, a chaotic four-year term highlighted by an unprecedented two impeachments. Impeachment One was for Mr. Trump’s alleged solicitation of foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election, which he lost. Number Two was for “incitement of insurrection” by way of an attempted coup d’état following Joe Biden’s victory in that election.
His wife—the Slovenian-born former nude model Melania Trump, née Melanija Knavs—was noticeably absent during her husband’s announcement. Likewise absent were Mr. Trump’s favored trio of adult children. A fourth spawn, however, the semi-handsome Eric, was seated amidst a small assembly of especially dazed devotees.
Live television coverage ended about a third of the way into the joyless event, leaving Mr. Trump to continue whining for an hour to the larger audience, most of whom were barred from leaving the room by beefy security personnel . Major newspapers reported the Trump announcement the next morning on their front pages, below the fold.
One week later, magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll utilized a freshly enacted state law to file a belated sexual battery complaint against Mr. Trump, accusing the candidate of raping her in the 1990s in the changing room of a posh department store near the Fifth Avenue penthouse where he once dwelt in splendor that would make Kubla Khan blush. Mr. Trump disparaged the columnist’s lawsuit as a “hoax” because, he said, “This woman is not my type.”
Ms. Carroll’s rape charge is but the latest matter in a viscous bog of legal difficulties sure to at least diminish Mr. Trump’s aim to recapture the White House, if not land him in prison. Her complaint rivals the raunch of two previous scandals in the run-up to Mr. Trump’s election victory back in 2016—an alleged hush money pay-off to porn star Stormy Daniels, who blabbed to the tabloid press of their sexual trysts in Las Vegas, and Mr. Trump’s recorded boast to a television reporter of his unique manner of romancing toothsome young women: “Grab ‘em by the pussy.”
Piggery of the man aside, the newly announced Republican candidate for the highest office in the land must further answer to four other matters of chargeable conduct: civil and criminal actions pending against him in the states of Georgia and New York, and the anticipation of federal indictments growing out of two criminal investigations by the Department of Justice.
On November 18, the Justice Department appointed veteran federal and international prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel to oversee the Trump cases. The first case: potential seditious interference in the transfer of presidential authority to Mr. Biden in 2020-21, culminating in armed insurrection days before the end of Mr. Trump’s regime. The second: the deposed president’s removal of top-secret national defense documents from the White House upon his departure, a possible violation of the U.S. Espionage Act §763.
Jack Smith is now back home in Washington, having returned from his post at The Hague as chief prosecutor for war crimes. Stateside, public corruption has been his prosecutorial métier. Conviction on either of the federal assertions could result in substantial prison time; at the very least, Mr. Trump would be forever barred from setting foot in the White House.
So at last, the day of retribution has arrived. Crime Time has come for the jowly defendant with the strange hairdo, a man who richly deserves all punishments the courts will see fit to impose.
Also, the time has come for the grift known as the Big Lie to die, to wit—
- The lie about an international conspiracy of leftists to “rig” the presidential election of November 2020, which he decidedly lost. Sixty-three court challenges to the election results attest to Donald Trump’s resounding loss.
- The lie that inspired Mr. Trump’s cult of fascist goons to storm the Capitol building in Washington in January of last year for the purpose of preventing Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory in November 2020—a shameful assault on American democracy that has come to be known as J6.
Five people died in the J6 insurrection, nearly one hundred and fifty more were hospitalized with severe injuries. Mr. Trump piled on to the shame of that day by exploiting the misdirected anger of his supporters—suckered by Republican propaganda through the party’s powerful media apparatus—in order to raise some $250 million in donations toward his current presidential ambition (€240 million), according to Congresswoman Zoë Lofgren of California.
“Not only was there the Big Lie,” said Ms. Lofgren during the second public hearing of a congressional committee probing Mr. Trump’s rôle in J6, “there was the Big Rip-Off.”
In response, Mr. Trump employed his predilection for psychological projection, dismissing the committee as “disgraceful.” In a speech earlier this year before the Faith & Freedom Coalition, a right-wing Christianist organization, he further projected in characterizing Ms. Lofgren and her fellow congressional committee members: “They are con artists.”
To be sure, the ex-president prefers the con over the Constitution. As do his associated opportunists, a traveling circus of Trump apers and acolytes who variously profit in the business of separating fools from their money. For such disreputable persons, the Big Lie is coin of the realm.
Chief among Mr. Trump’s grifter comrades is Mike Lindell, the one-time drug addict and founder of My Pillow, a Minnesota-based manufacturer of bedroom furnishings. He is best known as the eponymous “My Pillow guy.”
To this day, the clownish Mr. Lindell traverses the Trump rally circuit insisting to true-believing rubes and journalists willing to listen to his saliva-spewing harangues that he holds “plenty of evidence” of election fraud that redounded to victory for Mr. Biden. Oh, and he’s willing to sell the pillows he drags along with him to anyone willing to sleep on raggedy balls of foam encased in cheap cotton. To this day, and despite numerous invitations from prosecutors and the press to fork over the evidence, the bellowing Mr. Lindell has produced zip, zero, nada, nichts.
Perhaps—just perhaps—the public is weary of bellowing Trump-era clowns. Perhaps indeed the time has come not to send in the clowns, as the Stephen Sondheim song suggests, but to send away the clowns.
Conover Kennard, a North Carolina-based internet journalist, taps into the absurdity. “Mike Lyndell,” she writes, “is like that old drunk down the street without his pants on.”
Even so, there remains the enormous political power of a true-believing minority of Americans who affirm their own grievances in genuflecting before a badly-tailored vulgarian who somehow ascended to the presidency. Therefore, a man worthy of their pathetic admiration.
Therefore, a man whose foibles and faults are easily excused. Even when it comes to Donald Trump’s repeatedly surrounding himself with human offal; most recently the odd couple united in hate whom he wined and dined at Mar-a-Lago, an estate that seems increasingly less about golf and increasingly more along the lines of Hitler’s Bavarian mountain retreat in the 1930s, the “Eagle’s Nest” near Berchtesgaden. At his Florida retreat on the evening of November 22, Herr Trump’s dinner guests were the African American rap “artist” Kanye West, an anti-Semite who includes black civil rights organizations in his contempt, and Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist and Holocaust denier whose fascist podcast is titled “America First.”
The trenchant political observer and television comedian Jimmy Kimmel said of the Mar-a-Lago dinner soirée, “You know it’s a bad sign when Kanye West is the third most controversial person at the table.”
Former Congresswoman Donna Edwards put it this way: “What used to lie under a rock now sits at the top of a mountain.”
Speaking of Mike Lindell, the “My Pillow Guy” has clearly been looking beyond the confines of his factory and outlet store in the rural Midwest for opportunities to bellow on some bigger ballfield. Carver County, Minnesota is lovely as the American provinces go, but how much political kick can there be for a Trumpist like Mr. Lindell in a place where he and other Republican stalwarts have so very few dirty rotten commie Democrats to yell at?
To some degree, Pillow Guy has found a sinus-clearing cheer in traipsing about the country on a mission to raise the collective blood pressure of Trump cultists incensed that their lord and savior was crucified by those election-stealing dirty rotten commie Democrats. But now…
Is Mike Lindell now truly the scrappy dog who found fangs with which to take on the top dog? After a week-long consultation with party panjandrums, so he says without naming anyone of this deep pocket set, Mr. Lindell declared on November 29 that he is “one hundred percent” decided on wresting control of the Republican National Committee (R.N.C.) from its chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel. The struggle will take place over the coming months in America’s biggest and brightest political venue, Washington, D.C.
Never mind that Mr. Lindell must busy himself defending against a $1.3 billion defamation suit filed in federal court by Dominion Voting Systems, the Denver-based supplier of some seventy million computerized ballots in the 2020 election that Pillow Guy and his confederates maintain were manipulated by dirty rotten commie Democrats in the cause of displacing Donald Trump. Mr. Lindell maintains a Trumpesque bravado.
“I talk to all the big donors to our party,” said Mr. Lindell during his star turn at a Washington press conference, “and they says to me, they says, ‘Mike, everybody wants you for R.N.C. chairman.” Again, no names.
“Not only am I going to win,” vowed Mr. Lindell, “but it’s going to change real fast. We’re going to get our country righted really quick.”
In speeches that enthrone Donald Trump, Mr. Lindell pushes a theocratic aim of getting the U.S. “righted” by means of a Bible-based Christian autocracy led by a man he sees as divinely anointed. His coast-to-coast speeches are heard by hundreds of thousands of Trump-boosting Republicans; at virtually every stop on this old timey political chautauqua, a chorus of voices hail Donald Trump as Heaven-sent.
Not that Ms. McDaniel is a paragon of secular enlightenment. She is firmly in support of Lord Trump and thus sees no need to criticize his dinner with a fascist duo. Nor is she especially effective. Under her leadership the once respectable Republican Party—founded in the 19th century by Abraham Lincoln, and boasting Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower—has practically collapsed.
Some say the party of Lincoln is gone, including Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri: “The Republican Party as we know it is dead.” The journalist and ordained Presbyterian minister Chris Hedges advises that the Republican Party has been overtaken by a “Christian fascism.”
In a November essay for Salon magazine, Mr. Hedges wrote: “Blow by blow, autocratic power is being solidified by this monstrous Christian fascism, bankrolled by the most retrograde forces of corporate capitalism. …If Trump or a Trump-like clone is elected in 2024, what is left of our democracy will likely be extinguished.“
As astonishing as it is, as seemingly new in the annals of horror as it is, the Trump era is not the only fascist phase of modern American history. What is more astonishing is the American capacity to forget what we must never forget.
Lucky for us, we have Rachel Maddow to remind us that democracy is fragile, even after our two hundred and forty-six years of national experience with it.
Ms. Maddow’s latest reminder—a crucial one, with strong parallels to today—comes by way of an eight-part podcast titled “Ultra.” The series begins by recounting of an unsolved mystery in 1940, sixteen months before U.S. entry into World War 2.
On a holiday weekend in late August of that year, a Republican senator from Minnesota, Ernest Lundeen, was killed in an airplane crash. That day, he summoned his secretary to their Capitol offices in Washington, where she found him weeping at his desk, unwilling to explain himself.
Mr. Lundeen managed to direct the secretary to take him by car to an airfield outside the city, where a small plane was set for a lift-off to Pittsburgh. During the drive, the senator continued his weeping. He said but one thing to his secretary: “I went too far.”
The pilot and all twenty-five passengers perished after less than a half-hour aloft. The dead, their bloody limbs and torsos scattered across field and farmland, included three agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who had been tailing the senator for weeks.
I suggest that everyone in the world who depends on a vital American democracy listen to Rachel Maddow’s “Ultra,” available wherever podcasts may be accessed. The story is important to know.
It is the true story of Washington political figures who aided and abetted a plot to overthrow the American government, a plot financed by the Nazi Party of Germany during the Third Reich. It is the story of U.S. Justice Department prosecutors under crushing political pressure.
It is the story of right-wing American extremism in proximity to long established institutional power.
It is the story of the lengths that officials will go to cover their tracks when caught colluding with the forces of Christian fascism.
—Thomas Adcock is America correspondent for CulturMag