Exploring the soft white pouches of Donald Trump

These times are so extraordinary that I agree with Michiko Kakutani — she finds the prose that appears under James Comey’s name rather good. “The soft white pouches under” Trump’s “expressionless blue eyes” isn’t bad; I prefer that she notes the president’s humorlessness, for Comey a sign of “deep insecurity, his inability to be vulnerable or to risk himself by appreciating the humor of others, which, on reflection, is really very sad in a leader, and a little scary in a president.”

So many things are happening at once in federal court and with the Mueller investigation that I can’t keep things straight. Suffice it to say, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen acted as the GOP’s Mr. Fixit, if Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti is to believed and why not: arranging NDAs for the sake of a GOP donor who insisted that the woman he got pregnant have an abortion.

Best to focus on first principles. Brian Beutler:

Trump uses his businesses as conduits for bribes and is susceptible to policy extortion by creditors, hush money recipients, and others. If he weren’t such a greedy crook, he could have eliminated these fundamental problems. He could have sold off his investments, placed his fortune in a blind trust, and disclosed conduct he’d engaged in that would have otherwise made him vulnerable to blackmail.

Instead, he remains the owner, face, and (effectively) operator of the Trump Organization. He skims off the top of the Treasury and refuses to disclose his tax returns. He doesn’t and can‘t run the government in the public interest, and should thus, on the merits, be removed from office.

This has nothing to do with obstruction of justice and is only partially related to the “collusion” question.

By most accounts Trump conducted a private life similar to what Robert Goolrick recounted in The Fall of Princes. He’s a princeling who never grew up, relying on Daddy’s hundreds of millions as safety net. The world knew it in 2015. The GOP establishment went through the pantomime of considering him an uncouth menace, then embraced him when he won. And here we are.

A note on James Comey, lucky bastard

And the administration isn’t six months old.

If I remain skeptical about GOP panic, look to the numbers. The GOP’s got them. To advance articles of impeachment, an impressive wave of voter disgust would have to decimate the Republican’s House majority next year. Losses in the special elections in Georgia and Montana might contribute to the psy ops. And the GOP would have to join Senate Democrats, where a trial would take place. Congress was headed in this direction in the summer of 1974 until a delegation of the president’s own party led by Barry Goldwater and Senate majority leader Hugh Scott informed Richard Nixon that he had lost what remained of his GOP support (I’ll note also that Nixon’s relations with Congress were as dismal as Trump’s; American autocrats sooner or later need Congress).

The other thing to note, again, is that Mike Pence may have assuaged evangelicals, but the GOP didn’t keep the Senate or win the White House because districts in western Pennsylvania wanted Pence’s indispensable nodding. In the extraordinary chance that Trump resigns or is impeached, it’s likelier that Pence would sign horrible GOP legislation that will kill people, but this assumes, first, that the GOP wouldn’t be rubble and, secondly, that Pence wouldn’t lose the bloc of voters for whom Donald J. Trump is Ronald Reagan as Michael Jackson in 1983. A Pence-led ticket in 2020 would lose: not only is he as charismatic as a gizzards left in the sun, but should he sign the deadly legislation the Dems would have a stackful of campaign ads ready. This presumes Democratic organization mirroring the blocs behind the anti-Bush grass roots of 2006 and Barack Obama in 2008, of course. Never overestimate the Democrats’ chances.

Finally, I’m in no hurry to read Comey’s memos. Whatever else, the man demonstrates why he’s survived in DC: keep teasing.