John Colson: Are we entering a quick-form Dark Age?
Hit & Run
For three days over the past weekend I was out of touch with the world, and it was sublime.
I didn’t hear a thing about our current White House resident (whom I have dubbed He Who Shall Not Be Named, at least in this paragraph).
I was blissfully unaware that certain Democrats have concluded they should just shut up about Russia already and deal with the pocketbook issues that most voters care more about than any Kremlin-sponsored effort to demoralize and destabilize our form of government.
And I was late in learning that enough prominent Republicans have come out against the recently released, devised-in-secrecy “Better Care Reconciliation Act” (who names these things, anyway?) offered by the U.S. Senate.
That’s just a sampling of what I missed by spending the weekend high in the hills above Blue Mesa Reservoir, helping friends with some last-minute home-improvement projects before they sell their cabin and move to the San Juan Islands.
But I came back Sunday to learn about all that and more, as well as to read that the guy who heads up our government is being sued by two political watchdog groups — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (clearly an oxymoron in the current circumstance) and the National Security Archive — over the groups contention that the Twitter-maniac in the White House has violated a governmental requirement that he preserve and maintain all records pertaining to his time in office.
A rational mind might be justified in asking, at this point, “Records? What records? All our election-stealing President does is rule by decree and Twitter post, and all of that is consumed by his insane obsession for undoing anything and everything his predecessor did while in office. Congress, in the meantime, can’t get a damned thing done because all their time is taken up with trying to undo former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. So, records of what?”
Well, that’s the thing.
Trump (oh, hell, I went and did it anyway), who truly and demonstrably does not know what he’s doing, has a responsibility to inform the public of what he’s doing, and that includes keeping records of his actions over the course of his presidency.
And, like it or not, much of that record to this point mainly has comprised a rather ephemeral but nonetheless historically significant number of tweets.
Oh, yeah, every now and then he can be seen on Fox News being stroked and fawned upon by various “reporters” (often very attractive women in somewhat alluring attire), mouthing garbled pronouncements that leave everybody in the room gasping for air and struggling to figure out what he just said.
But the tweets are the meat of his connection with the public, the rest of government and anyone else who cares to keep track of the guy.
And he is, after all, the president of the United States, which means his actions in office have consequences, both for the moment and for history, which means he has a duty to maintain records of those actions.
As we all know, of course, our president is not the kind of guy who likes to be nailed down to anything definitive, especially when he is not quite sure about the outcomes of any particular act or declaration (which is almost always).
So he speaks in a brand of gibberish that is startling, even impressive, in its vagueness and incomprehensibility.
He does not complete thoughts while speaking, but instead leaps about in childlike wonder and blunder, rocketing between subjects like a jackrabbit being chased by a coyote, which probably is pretty close to how he perceives any effort to obtain and retain an accurate accounting of the things he says and does.
According to the lawsuit filed last week, the law that requires the keeping of records has been violated by the president’s newly acquired habit of using messaging apps that delete messages as soon as they are sent, as well as by his staff’s growing use of encryption messaging technology in their own messaging while on the job. Although in their defense, his staff is encrypting (and probably deleting) in self defense, lest they be accused of the crime that the president hates above all others: leaking to the public or the press.
All of this, however, violates the Presidential Records Act, since such records are supposed to become public after five years for unclassified information, or 12 years for classified material, so we can look back and see how badly or baldly we were deceived, misled or otherwise bamboozled by someone who has long since left the building.
Hence, the lawsuit, and with it the likelihood that once again our president may well be charged with and convicted of committing a crime against our nation. But this one, unlike the equally serious but less clear-cut charge of toadying up to Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin in Moscow, would be much more clear and less subject to equivocation (lying) and avoidance (ducking and running) by all concerned.
Of course, since he doesn’t know what he’s doing, has never had to face personal responsibility for anything before and is president of the United States, he might be able to wiggle out of this one, just as he seems determined to wiggle out of allegations concerning collusion with Russia to undermine his opponent in the 2016 election.
The fact is, Trump may never have to face any real consequences for the damage he is doing to this country, and historians may simply look back at the one-term presidency of Donald Trump in much the same way as they do the chaotic and terrifying centuries following the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, which is generally called the Dark Ages.
Kind of appropriate for a presidency that appears determined to scuttle every progressive initiative achieved over the past decade or so, break some key laws on the way, and make sure we can’t trace the specific ways in which the undoing was done, and which laws were broken by whom.
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