One thing you do not love to hear is that the current occupant of the Oval Office has studied up on the conduct and affairs of Richard M. Nixon. And we're not talking about treating that treacherous ghoul as a cautionary tale in the moral sense. Wow, it was a grave breach of the public trust for President Nixon to behave the way he did while vested with such extraordinary power! No, we're talking more of a logistical cautionary tale. As in, What can I learn from how he got caught? This is the problem when you make someone completely devoid of ethics the world's most powerful man: he will keep cutting corners—and possibly far more than that—just as he's done his whole life. It's not about what you should do, it's what you can get away with.
Video: A Timeline of President Trump’s Comments on the Coronavirus
The current president, Donald J. Trump, took to The Fox News Channel this morning just as we were learning that the nation has plunged into the worst employment environment since the Great Depression. At least 20 million people are now unemployed amid a worldwide economic lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the unemployment rate is 14.7 percent. None of that came up, according to Vox's Aaron Rupar, until about 20 minutes into the interview. That's because a Fox & Friends call-in serves primarily as a presidential venting session—not unlike the pandemic briefings—as Trump airs his personal grievances and bashes his enemies and talks about what a great job he's doing.
But then there was Nixon.
TRUMP: "I learned a lot from Richard Nixon -- don't fire people. I learned a lot. I study history ... of course there was one big difference: Number one he may have been guilty and number two he had tapes all over the place." pic.twitter.com/wgzKCumavL
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 8, 2020
Notice how the president just readily admitted that he appointed a political ally as Attorney General of the United States whom he himself considered unqualified for the job? Leadership! This is mostly about his determination to humiliate Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III in public, but it's enough to make you wonder why he appointed William Barr, now his hatchet man at the Justice Department, who just yesterday dismissed concerns about his role in the un-conviction of Michael Flynn on the basis that "history is written by the winners." He laughed as he said it.
Anyway, after an aside about how he won the state of Alabama as a Republican—nobody would have believed it was possible before he did it—we got to...more stuff about Sessions. To be clear, Sessions didn't recuse himself from the Russia probe because he was "weak," he recused himself because he was a member of Trump's campaign, and to lead an investigation into an organization you were a part of would be improper. Not anymore! Not in Tinpot America.
OK, then finally we got to the Nixon stuff. What did the world's current most powerful man, responsible for war and peace and stewarding the United States of America into a new decade, learn? Did he develop a new appreciation for the responsibilities of holding an office of the public trust? Did he have a renewed regard for the primacy of the democratic process, and the importance of not abusing the powers of your office to tamper with it? "I learned a lot from Richard Nixon," he said, "Don't fire people." Oh, and don't make tapes. Trump learned long ago never to put anything in writing. Don't keep a record. Never give the order directly. Always keep a meat shield between you and whatever Totally Above Board Business Activities you are pursuing. This is who we've got in the big chair. At least he granted that Nixon may have been guilty, though primarily as a prelude to saying he himself is not.
And then we were treated to a Mother's Day Message.
Trump's Mother's Day message is bragging about how great the US military is. I'm serious! pic.twitter.com/Swe9vaVNUg
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 8, 2020
The brain, it is good.
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