Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, yesterday on “Meet the Press:”
“I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury,” Giuliani said, repeating a frequently made point. “And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he is going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth, not the truth.”
“Truth is truth,” [moderator Chuck] Todd responded, exasperated.
“No it isn’t truth! Truth isn’t truth!” Giuliani said, adding: “Donald Trump says I didn’t talk about Flynn with Comey. Comey says you did talk about. So tell me what the truth is!”
Some pills make you larger, and some pills make you small…
What’s remarkable about this exchange is not just the Orwellian peace-is-war / Lewis Carroll “Through the Looking Glass” framing of reality. It’s that there will be any number of Republicans who, either because of fear or convenience or their own self-interest, will shrug it off and go on about their business because Trump is their leader and Republicans always follow their leader, even if it’s down the rabbit hole or over the cliff.
The real news of the past few weeks isn’t that Trump is a wannabe Mussolini who can’t even make the trains run on time. It’s the absence of any meaningful pushback from Congressional Republicans. Indeed, not only are they acquiescing in Trump’s corruption, his incitements to violence, and his abuse of power, up to and including using the power of office to punish critics, they’re increasingly vocal in cheering him on.
Make no mistake: if Republicans hold both houses of Congress this November, Trump will go full authoritarian, abusing institutions like the I.R.S., trying to jail opponents and journalists on, er, trumped-up charges, and more — and he’ll do it with full support from his party.
The point is that once you’ve made excuses for and come to the aid of a bad leader, it gets ever harder to say no to the next outrage. Republicans who defended Trump over the Muslim ban, his early attacks on the press, the initial evidence of collusion with Russia, have in effect burned their bridges. It would be deeply embarrassing to admit that the elitist liberals they mocked were right when they were wrong; also, nobody who doesn’t support Trump will ever trust their judgment or patriotism again.
They are counting on two things: the short-term memory of both the news cycle and those who maintain it, and the rabidness of the base of the party that embraces the racism, the sexism, the anti-democratic instincts that lie within the heart of all hard-core cults of personality. Both of those come together to make it perfectly plausible for Trump to stand up at an airport hangar rally in some mid-size city in the Midwest and say, to the adoring cheers and prompted jeers at the news media, that the truth about him is all lies and that the things that America stands for such as equal rights under the law and freedom of the press are the real threats to our way of life. He’ll sell a million red hats with that emblazoned on it. He will be able to count on the complicity and indifference of the Republican party because what they stand for is “keep us in power so we can make money and keep the nice things for ourselves. As for the rest of you, well, you’re on your own.”
And that’s the truth.