The Nuggets’ accident-marred victory parade is over, the crowds have finally dispersed, and the Joker — who certainly won back any discontented fans by proclaiming the day to be the best “of my (F-bombing) life” — is headed back to his family in Serbia, where presumably more extremely large people will get the chance to hoist him onto their shoulders.
So now, I guess, we must reluctantly return to regular business, starting with — and this may surprise you; it certainly surprised me — Rep. Ken Buck, who did a brave thing the other day.
In fact, if you missed it, it was nearly a very brave thing, but, given the circumstances, simple bravery is far more than anyone could have expected.
As many of his fellow congressional Republicans were tripping over themselves to either defend Donald Trump after his latest indictment or, just as likely, to run from any reporter asking for comment, Buck went in another direction.
It was the direction of CNN’s Dana Bash, whom he told on air that he would not support Trump in his reelection bid if a Florida jury found him guilty.
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“After the trial,” Buck told Bash, “if he is convicted of these charges of mishandling (highly classified documents), of knowingly concealing his actions, I don’t think — I certainly won’t support a convicted felon for the White House.”
You’d think, but only if you were willfully naive, that not supporting a convicted felon would be a low bar in a presidential race, certainly lower than a Mar-a-Lago stack of classified documents. But we know better. The latest polls not only have Trump as the run-away leader in the GOP presidential primary, but one poll shows that an overwhelming majority — 80 percent, as it turns out — of Republicans see no reason why Trump shouldn’t be president even if he is convicted. No one seemed to address the question of how they’re going to fit all those Secret Service guys in the cell with him.
That’s disturbing, but it’s hardly shocking. Come on, it’s 2023, the year in which Trump frames his latest indictment as persecution by “Crooked” Joe Biden and his “band of closet thugs, misfits, and Marxists” who “tried to destroy American democracy.”
We’re suddenly hearing a lot from Trump about Marxists and Communists as if the Berlin Wall had never fallen and as if Joe Biden had been childhood buddies with Joe Stalin. I’m sure Trump’s old buddy, Roy Cohn, would have approved.
It’s almost funny — or would be, if it weren’t so serious — to hear Trump, who did his best to overturn the results of the 2020 election, call himself the defender of democracy. In the same breath, he says if elected, he would seek “retribution” against Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and probably Jill Biden, too.
How would he do it? Here’s the really funny part. He would appoint his own special prosecutor. Yeah, he’d do some real weaponizing, just as he tried to do in his, uh, perfect conversation with Ukraine President Zelenskyy, the little chat that led to Trump’s first impeachment trial.
And yet, if you believe the polls, GOP voters have completely missed the irony of all this. Even Fox News, after running a chryon calling Biden a “wannabe dictator” apparently fired the guy who put up the banner.
Meanwhile, Trump’s GOP defenders are calling his classified-documents case a matter of selective prosecution because, you know, Hillary and her emails and lock her up and all that. And everyone, from Kevin McCarthy on down, has accused Biden and Merrick Garland of “weaponizing” the Department of Justice against Trump, the now-and-forever victim. I googled “weaponize” and came up with more than 11 million hits.
For his part, Trump says it’s not just the politics, but also the apocalypse. He calls his campaign the “final battle” and says, as only he would, that “I am the only one that can save this nation.”
Like most Republicans, Buck had been busily defending Trump against all comers. He, too, said he wondered why Trump was indicted and not Clinton. He even once said Trump’s many legal woes “almost give this presidential candidate and former president credibility.”
Buck may have mangled his words there — maybe he meant that for certain voters, it gave him credibility — but, either way, he never clarified the statement.
Until he changed things up. And then some.
I’m not sure why Buck changed his mind — it certainly wasn’t to win over Trump-heavy supporters in his 4th Congressional District — but let’s be glad he did. I mean, someone other than the never-Trumpers and Mitt Romney has to step up to face Trump and his millions of cultists.
With Trump well ahead in the still-very-early polls and Ron DeSantis looking as if he’s starting to fade, it seems the only way to stop Trump would be for the Trump-enabling Republicans who know better — and especially Trump’s cowardly primary rivals, meaning all of them aside from Chris Christie — to point out that Trump has stepped way over the line and that it’s long past time for GOP voters to finally recognize the fact.
I’m not expecting many Republicans to follow Buck. On the same day Buck spoke on CNN, Colorado’s Lauren Boebert — like Buck, a member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus — was filing another in a series of articles of impeachment against Joe Biden. This one was, in Boebert’s words, because Biden was “enabling an invasion along our Southern border.” Next time, it will be grabbing her guns or intercepting her 911 calls.
The issue is less important to Boebert than the attention, which might, if Boebert had any credibility, divert attention from Trump’s travails and focus it on Biden’s problems. In fact, the day before Boebert filed her latest impeachment resolution, she co-sponsored another one charging Biden (and Kamala Harris) with attempting to “shield the business and influence peddling schemes of his family from congressional oversight and public accountability.”
Meanwhile, Buck was on CNN listing Trump’s national security failings: “He hid documents, you know, purposely putting them in a shower, purposely putting them on a stage. So, there clearly is an intent to hide, there was an intent, that he knew it. He talked to his attorneys about these documents.”
And one of those attorneys turned over an audio tape listing exactly what he and Trump had discussed about the documents. Now, like many Trump attorneys, he’s a former Trump attorney. No wonder Trump is having so much difficulty finding anyone to represent him. And it will only get worse, with more indictments almost certainly on the way.
When Buck was asked how he would characterize Trump’s electoral issues, he said he recalled that during the 2016 campaign, Trump had called Clinton “unfit for the White House” due to her handling of classified documents.
“So, I think his words have set the standard that America will look at in determining whether he is fit for president,” Buck said.
And that’s where Buck could have taken it one step farther. Trump may be convicted — most of the experts say the evidence in the indictment is devastating — or he may not. No one knows what a Florida jury will do.
But Buck, a former prosecutor, knows what Trump did. Buck knows that Trump, whether convicted or not, was waving around highly classified documents to impress his friends. Buck knows that Trump, whether convicted or not, had boxes moved in order to hide those highly classified documents. He knows that Trump lied. That he lied about lying.
That it all should be obvious to anyone paying the least bit of attention.
But mostly, Buck knows that whether Trump is convicted or not, he is clearly unfit for the White House. What Buck and many others in his party need to do is finally say so, as loudly and as clearly as possible — so loudly that someone might hear.
As even Trump says, all that’s at stake is the fate of democracy.
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