Plus-size White House spokesmodel Donald J. Trump is currently the planet’s most terrifying example of a thin skin combined with a runaway ego, notorious for venting his rage at whoever and whatever affronts him in crack-of-dawn Twitterstorms (or should that be Twitter Stormfronts?) so furious the National Weather Service ought to track them. So maybe we should pay more attention to the stuff that, apparently, doesn’t offend him at all.
For instance, getting compared to Hitler, which you’d think would get almost anybody’s dander up. To say the least, it’s not commonly regarded as a Good Look for an American politician, at least one not named David Duke. But neither Trump nor his MAGA partisans have ever disparaged the parallel, let alone exploded with moral indignation at the very idea. No matter how easily it’s provoked, Trump’s indignation is almost never moral; back when those salacious rumors first surfaced that Vladimir Putin had video of him playing golden-showers games with Russian hookers, he shut them down by huffing that he’s always “very careful” about hotel-room surveillance when he’s abroad. He didn’t say that the charge was disgusting, he’d never do anything that gross, etc., etc.—only that he was too smart to get caught. This may have more revealing of the man than people realized at the time.
If Trump doesn’t take umbrage at people calling him a would-be dictator, one obvious explanation is that he doesn’t see anything especially repellent about dictatorships. But thanks to his blissful ignorance of the Constitution, he clearly also entered office believing that presidents of the United States do, in fact, wield dictatorial powers. So far as we can tell, he doesn’t see anything wrong with that either, except when those powers are directed against him.
That’s the interesting subtext of his loony Twitter claim last weekend that Barack Obama was wiretapping him back in October. It clearly never crossed his mind that Obama didn’t have the authority to order wiretaps at will. For that matter, Trump doesn’t either, which must stupefy him now that he’s found out— assuming, that is, that Reince Priebus has nerved himself to break the bad news.
Demonizing Hillary is awfully 2016, so why not bring evil Barack out of retirement?
Federal wiretaps are the Justice Department’s province, not White House whims, and its investigators need to get court clearance first by showing probable cause and obtaining a warrant. Any wiretap on Trump Tower would mean that some unspecified party located there was under suspicion of either engaging in criminal activity or being an agent of a foreign power—neither of which, of course, seems wholly implausible to anyone with half a brain. Way to get people wondering about you and Putin again, Donnie!
All the same, whether any such warrant was issued is still unknown, despite unconfirmed reports that the FBI tried for one twice last year and got a thumbs-up on the second go-round. FBI Director James Comey has asked the DoJ to publicly deny this, although why Comey hasn’t just denied it himself isn’t clear. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, on the other hand, had no hesitation about flatly refuting the story: “There was no wiretap against Trump Tower during the campaign conducted by any part of the national intelligence community,” he told ABC News on Monday. “None at all… including the FBI.”
Naturally, in Trumplandia, neither the legal apparatus involved in getting wiretaps okayed nor the denials of the government officials who’d have been responsible for overseeing them mean a damn thing. It also goes without saying that Trump cited no evidence at all for his accusation and still hasn’t provided any. The ineffable Kellyanne Conway reassured Fox & Friends that her boss has access to “information and intelligence the rest of us do not,” but it seems totally obvious that he just read this crap on Breitbart Friday night and let fly.
Unlike Conway, who often seems to blithely occupy the world’s most heavily armored soap bubble since Glinda The Good Witch showed up in one in The Wizard of Oz, other White House flacks squirmed at having to endorse Trump’s charge. “I’m just going to let the tweet speak for itself,” Sean Spicer said, showing his usual raw guts when under pressure… which is always.
To Trump himself, supplying evidence for anything he thinks up is irrelevant, as usual. Only belief matters. Turning Obama into Lex Luthor (again), if not Darth Vader, is the farthest he’s gone in delegitimizing our whole system of government since he was insisting the election was rigged, but that’s incidental to his need to invent conspiratorial enemies plotting against him. Demonizing Hillary is awfully 2016, so why not bring evil Barack out of retirement? Any comics fanboy knows that the villains in superhero franchises can always come back from exile on Smegma 4. Or from vacation in Palm Springs, for that matter.
Remember, Trump blamed Obama for organizing last month’s town-hall protests against GOP Congressmen, too, no doubt by means of semaphore signals while he was kitesurfing. Accusing our 44th president of conducting an illegal vendetta against his successor while he was still in office ratchet things up to a whole new level, however. If anything, Obama’s administration bent over backward both during and after the election to avoid taking any steps regarding Trump that might look politically motivated, and a fat lot of good that did him. Out in the parts of this great land where the red MAGA hats come lined with tinfoil, hardcore right-wingers have always believed that Obama was—and is?—capable of anything.
The POTUS who genuinely is capable of anything is, of course, Trump. But that doesn’t seem to worry his followers a bit. To their minds, a despot they feared and loathed has been overthrown by a new dictator they adore, and they can’t see why anybody’s complaining. Their tranquil acceptance that this is the way the United States works, and/or ought to work, may be the real nightmare for us all.