Here are a couple of facts to make your head explode.
A mere 15 bills that are not ceremonial in nature or rescind existing laws have passed Congress since Donald Trump became president. This includes a bill sent to the president this week that rescinds a law forbidding discrimination in car loans. (I am not making this up.) Meanwhile, the august House Rules Committee has sent a record-shattering 84 bills to the House floor this year under “closed” rules. (And there still are seven months to go.) These bills are rubber stamped by Banana Republicans with no opportunity for Democratic input to craft the kind of bipartisan legislation that has flowed from Capitol Hill to the president’s pen for generations.
There is no better example of the madness than Banana Republicans have wrought than strangling their own $867 billion farm bill in its crib last week.
This reliably popular piece of pork-laden legislation, which has been a fixture in every Congress since 1933, benefits country and city folk, Republicans and Democrats alike, and the strangulation came not over ethanol subsidies or free lunches for poor school kids, which are sometimes stumbling blocks, but over the House Freedom (Pardon the Term) Caucus’s demand that moderate Republicans sign onto their draconian immigration legislation.
But wait! There is a better example: The Freedom Caucus and mere garden variety right wingers are faced with the reality that their Dear Leader and a small army of his associates will be eviscerated in Robert Mueller’s Russian scandal investigation meat grinder as we slouch toward the midterm election in November. This is because they did a lot of really bad stuff.
So what are these Banana Republicans doing in response to this orgy of law breaking? They are working hammer and tong to undermine the Justice Department and FBI, which are trying to protect America, with increasingly wild accusations of deep-state coups and spies, oh my! in trying to protect Trump. And, of course, queuing up another Hillary Clinton investigation.
Thank goodness that Rod Rosenstein knows how to rope-a-dope.
The farm bill eventually will pass (possibly minus free lunches) and the Hail Mary plays to extricate the Russia scandal perps from the special counsel’s meat grinder will fail in familiar fashion.
That is, having demanded their outrageous claims be investigated, those investigations predictably reveal how pointlessly destructive their malevolent natterings are. (Remember the accusation that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump’s phones in Trump Tower? I knew you’d forgotten.)
CURSE THAT IT IS, BANANA REPUBLICANISM is a gift for Democrats in their increasingly plausible quest to take back Congress through deftly (it is hoped) bundling pocketbook issues like health care and prescription drug costs, Social Security and Medicare, veterans benefits and clean air and water with corruption, which is to say Trump’s innumerable scandals and Banana Republicans substituting cowardice for oversight.
But which scandals on which to piggyback those issues?
Beyond the Russia lollapalooza, there are Trump’s hush-money payments to women (and I guarantee we’ve only seen the tip of this very big iceberg), selling foreign policy to the highest bidder (ditto on the iceberg analogy), and the gross misuse of taxpayer money by Cabinet officials at the behest of corporations (ditto). All punctuated by brazen lies that spill from the president’s pie hole at the rate of a half dozen or so a day, or more if he’s early-morning tweetstorming.
While Felix Sater, Elliott Broidy and Scott Pruitt are not exactly household names, I would vote for using all of these scandals and incessantly using the word CORRUPTION! on the Internet and airways, especially in races where Republicans are standing by the man with small hands and peculiar hair, while hammering home the message that a government that works for you is preferable to a scandal-sodden constitutional crisis with no end in sight.
Trump’s ego-diven overture to North Korea (which is blowing up in his face as he gets punked by Rocket Man), his trade deal with China (which will save more Chinese jobs than American) and his nonsensical scuttling of the Iran nukes deal (which has further alienated the U.S.’s closest allies while inching us closer to a war for that nice John Bolton man) also qualify as scandalous, but they will make barely a ripple in the election.
What may make big splashes are Trump’s buddies flipping.
Michael Flynn and Rick Gates already have. Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s own lawyer agreed to cooperate with the feds this week, it is now stated matter of factly that Cohen will turn on Trump, and there will be no surprise when Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort concludes that his lawyers’ legal burlesque isn’t getting anywhere and ratting out the president is preferable to spending the rest of his life behind bars. This will further up the ante, give Democrats further opportunities to wave the corruption flag and further inflame Banana Republicans.
In any event, it cannot be politics as usual, and in this respect the Democratic leadership’s worst enemy is itself, not Trump. This is because the party’s DNA inexorably forces it away from a more populist, left-leaning approach toward the dreaded center. That would be a gift for Banana Republicans and their beleaguered Grifter in Chief.
Just ask Hillary Clinton.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on May 23, 2018 on Kiko’s House, a website featuring commentary by journalist and author, Shaun Mullen. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Mullen.