Colson: ‘We have met the enemy, and he is …’
Hit & Run
I find myself wondering if the walls of any offices in the White House have some illustration of that famous quote from the old Pogo cartoon by Walk Kelly: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
The quotation has long been viewed as a satirical swipe at U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy and his infamous House Un-American Activities Committee, which unconstitutionally destroyed many lives in its glory-grabbing communist witch-hunt in the 1950s.
But today’s application of that famous quotation would best be suited to the cabinet, staff and bureaucracies working in President Donald Trump’s administration.
The occasion that has stirred my Pogo memories is the publication of a new book by Trump’s former national security advisor, John Bolton, titled “The Room Where It Happened,” in which Bolton paints a portrait of a president so selfish and hateful, so ignorant and so anti-government that it almost defies understanding even among Republicans.
The week just past had not one but two major upheavals in Trump World — Bolton’s book, which Trump has been trying to block for months, and Trump’s dismissal of Geoffrey Berman, who has long held the top prosecutor’s post at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Mostly, for me, it is Bolton’s book that brings to mind the Pogo quote, as the president’s former henchman and bulldog has taken off the gloves and is now fighting mano a mano with his old boss.
That Trump is his own worst enemy, in terms of public perceptions and (I hope) the musings of future historians about his abilities, his inabilities and his warped presidency, all of that has been well documented in the media and in previous books about the inside operations at the White House.
Bolton, however, puts things on a higher plane, since he was not only an administration insider, but was perceived at one time to be one of Trump’s toughest, most loyal allies in the daily battles with the press, and the world at large.
That’s over now, however, and Bolton has been quoted by reporters as saying he cannot, in good conscience, vote for Trump in the November election.
He also reportedly has said that if he’d been a U.S. senator during Trump’s impeachment proceedings, he would have voted to convict the president on the impeachment counts involving Trump’s attempt to blackmail the president of Ukraine to help Trump’s reelection effort by smearing Democrat Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
I haven’t read Bolton’s book (it’s due to be published and released Tuesday), but I plan to. Despite my long distrust and skepticism about Bolton — he’s a warmonger and a bully, and has shown himself perfectly capable of lying to the public when it suits him — the book should make for interesting reading.
Then there is the controversy over Berman’s ouster, which was engineered by Trump and his legal-beagle lapdog, Attorney General William Barr, because Berman had been running investigations into Trump’s business dealings as well as his performance in office. It appears, from publicized comments by observers around the nation, that Berman was fired because he failed to do what Barr has become so adept at doing — ignoring the rule of law while doing Trump’s bidding in terms of protecting the president from himself and declaring war on Trump’s enemies.
Specifically, according to certain experts, Trump was angered by Berman’s recusing himself from the prosecution of Trump’s one-time legal hatchet man, Michael Cohen, thereby removing himself from any role in protecting Trump from Cohen’s testimony implicating the president in possibly criminal behavior.
And, of course, there is the fact that Berman has for some time been investigating another of Trump’s legal bag-men, Rudolph Giuliani (Giuliani, interestingly, is a former law partner of Berman’s) over accusations that Giuliani broke federal lobbying laws in his dealings with Ukraine.
Trump continues to place himself above the law and morality, as evidenced by the news that he wanted to replace Berman with a crony of Barr’s but was foiled by Berman’s combative resistance to such a move.
I’d bet it won’t be long before the president moves to fire the SDNY attorney who took Berman’s place, Berman’s top deputy — the 72-year-old Audrey Strauss, who reportedly is just as determined as Berman was to get to the truth in cases that set Trump’s hair on fire.
We’ve seen a number of situations in which Trump has relied on his crony network to protect him, most memorably when the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate fawningly shot down the impeachment articles approved by the House of Representatives earlier this year.
It is my hope that all this will come crashing down on The Donald’s head in November, when voters tell him for once and all that his services are no longer welcome in our federal government.
That, of course, will be the moment when the real Donald J. Trump will be at his most dangerous, a point at which even sober-sided observers worry he might try to call out the military to keep himself in power.
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