The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward Rikers. Teflon Don has finally shown a crack in the protective layer that prevented him from being forced to answer for his misdoings. Sadly, so too has cracked the much more porous layer that partially sealed our consciousness from the bombardment of ubiquitous Trump news. American society should have been sentenced to time served. Instead, the story we couldn’t shake for four years is back and bigger than ever, and the attention economy will once again be dominated by the orange one, as Americans prepare for a endless White Ford Bronco chase that will take viewers from Mar-a-Lago, to downtown NYC, and very likely to Georgia and DC, where Trump faces far more serious charges. Is the first indictment of a former president a happy occasion? It’s as sad as it is anything else as we come to terms with how much damage this presidency did, and continues to do, to the fabric of our nation. Here are a few quick thoughts on the first, but unlikely the last, indictment of a former president.
In certain quarters, the indictment was met with outrage, calls for protests, and attacks on NY DA Alvin Bragg. Forget the fact that these attacks are largely made either out of fear of Trump or a quest for ratings or fundraising dollars. Forget also that these urgent defenses are being made on behalf of twice-impeached guy who refused to accept an election and stirred an insurrection. Instead, consider this: None of the people yelling about the injustice of this case even know what the case is. None of us do. Not even Trump’s lawyers have seen the indictment yet.
You’ll be hearing a lot of Trump’s reactions to the indictment. Pay more attention to reaction come from others, like Ron DeSantis, who said he wouldn’t aid in the extradition of Trump from Florida and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who proclaimed that he will hold Alvin Bragg “and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.” Take note: the Trump virus has spread and mutated. The festering, gaping wound that ruptured the body politic is not healed; it’s worsening as these enablers add insult to injury.
On what used to be the fringes, the words Soros is code for Jews. Today, the fringes are mainstream as many on the right, including the top two GOP presidential candidates, invoked his name in response to the indictment. Don’t ignore what’s in front of your face.
I hope we don’t see violence as a response to this indictment. But if we do, it will because a former president of the United States is inciting it, just as he incited the violence on Jan 6. And still, one political party is determined to protect him any cost. The big story here, as it was for the four disastrous years of the Trump presidency, is just how broken America is. Tom Nichols in The Atlantic: “Tomorrow, all NYPD officers have reportedly been ordered to be in full uniform and ready to deploy. And again, somehow, we’ve just accepted this as the new normal. We no longer even blink when New York, a city scarred by multiple terror attacks against its innocent citizens, has to go on alert just to charge Trump with a crime. That one fact, more than any other, tells you how far down the long slide into vice and venality — and violence — Trump has dragged this country.”
David Remnick in The New Yorker: “With this indictment, we have entered a new act in the saga, one in which Trump contemplates turning a potential perp walk into a campaign opportunity. Who else could envision fingerprints, a mugshot, and cuffs as tools in an effort to ‘consolidate the base’?” An American Tragedy, Act III. (Sadly, this won’t be a three-act play. It is an endless 24-hour show, and it just got renewed.)
While we haven’t seen the indictment, we know that some of the charges are related to hush money paid to Stormy Daniels. This could be the first time in his life that Trump is associated with the word hush. But that could change after his arraignment in NYC next Tuesday. From then on, a judge decides how far he can go. Bloomberg: Trump Says Whatever He Wants, But a Judge Can Tell Him to Stop.
According to WaPo, Trump and advisers were caught off guard by New York indictment. Trump himself publicly proclaimed that this indictment was coming and yet when it did, it surprised insiders. That’s what it’s like to hitch your wagon to a chronic liar. Nothing is more surprising than when something he says actually happens.
There’s a certain irony that the most boastful man in America could be taken down by a guy named Bragg.
Trump is the first former president to be indicted. But what about sitting presidents? NPR on that time Ulysses S. Grant was arrested for carriage speeding. The arrest took place just after the Civil War, apparently a much less divisive moment in American history since no one accused the arresting officer of being backed by George Soros, the fine was paid, and Grant publicly expressed respect for the officer’s decision to arrest him.