Column: It’s democracy, not a ‘deep state’ conspiracy

  • Steve Nelson

For the Valley News
Published: 11/29/2019 10:10:22 PM

The politics of impeachment are pretty darned hard to follow, even for a retired news junkie who wastes shameful numbers of hours every day watching cable news and reading newspapers. But despite the GOP’s relentless sycophancy, the facts surrounding the Ukraine affair seem incontrovertible.

Several years ago, Rudy Giuliani — already up to his corrupt neck in Ukrainian mischief — began working with President Donald Trump to advance the Russian effort to misdirect blame for election meddling. Among recent revelations, few are more potentially delicious than the credible allegation that Rep. Devin Nunes traveled to Vienna to advance the Biden “investigation” scheme. That revelation makes his rants at the impeachment inquiry seem even more breathtakingly disgusting. Of course, he’s far from alone. I lose sleep while waging an internal debate over whether I’d most like to see Nunes or the aptly nicknamed Rep. Jim “Gym” Jordan in handcuffs.

But among the many facets of the Trump Republicans’ abject tomfoolery, one broad line of complaint/defense stands out for its fathomless irony: the claim that a “deep state” conspiracy is out to get Trump and has been operative since the campaign itself.

Nunes made this case in one of his many opening and closing statements during the televised Intelligence Committee hearings. Nunes, as ranking member of the committee, is the very definition of oxymoronic, much like William Barr heading the Justice Department.

In this particular monologue, he claimed a campaign to “get” Trump by listing, in exhaustive detail, nearly everything Trump has been accused of since 2015. The media did not highlight the absurdity, but I nearly fell off my recliner laughing. It was like watching a defense attorney argue for his client by listing all the crimes the state had investigated. “They’re out to get him! Authorities have charged him with beating his wife, multiple armed robberies, missed child support, embezzlement and serial sexual assault. How’s he going to get a fair trail when they keep bringing up all the things he’s done? It’s a conspiracy!”

Detailing Trump’s multiple felonies and misdemeanors on national television might seem a questionable strategy, but it apparently had no effect on the Republican members of the committee. They all went forward with their own versions of the deep state/fake news conspiracy to take down their president. By the end of the weeklong show, Republicans had ceased even going through the motions of questioning the witnesses. The intelligent, brave witnesses, who had provided hours of damning testimony, sat in mildly bemused silence as Jordan, Nunes and the rest feigned outrage at the persecution of their fearless leader.

On a parallel track, Trump’s media mouthpieces and legislative lackeys aimed to prove Ukrainian election meddling by citing examples of a few folks who spoke out against his candidacy — for example, Valeriy Chaly, a former Ukrainian ambassador to the United States who wrote an op-ed critical of Trump’s inaccurate and reckless comments about Crimea. The Washington Post has chronicled negative comments about the Trump candidacy from more than 60 foreign officials during the campaign. In Trump world, public criticism of an unfit candidate is considered election meddling.

The same line of specious argument is a constant conservative refrain in attacking James Comey, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok and every other person in or out of government who has had the audacity to point out the emperor’s nudity in their private conversations. In Trump world, any human who doesn’t love him is a lyin’ member of a deep state conspiracy to take him down. Especially the Never Trumpers. He cites Never Trumpers as though they are a secret society engaged in treason. Any reporter who discovers and reports the facts with journalistic integrity is part of fake news, the enemy of the people.

There is the old saying that it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you. In that context Trump and his minions do have a point. We really are out to get him. From the beginning of his bizarre, crude, confabulating campaign, a majority of Americans have opposed him. That’s called democracy, not a deep state conspiracy. Trump’s lack of fitness, temperament and preparation are self-evident. Robert Mueller’s report cited broad cooperation with a foreign power in election tampering and highlighted at least 10 instances of obstruction of justice that might have been prosecuted if not for the Justice Department memo suggesting that a sitting president may not be indicted.

It is not a stretch to compare this bizzaro world to a story of organized crime figures whining that the cops are just out to get them and those darned newspapers just keep printing photos of the bodies and blood. It’s just so unfair!

Steve Nelson lives in Boulder, Colo., and Sharon. He can be reached at stevehutnelson@gmail.com.




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