Re what Paul Ryan had to say in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia today: if the GOP really wants to seize the high ground on civil liberties, how about defending “one person, one vote” by defending America against partisan gerrymandering? How about defending America against vote suppression? How about defending America against the carnage happening every day by appropriating some real money to reduce opioid addiction and deaths–and pass some laws that regulate the ability of drug companies to push crazy amounts of opiates into little towns all over Appalachia and California and Florida and New Hampshire? How about defending the respect for rule of law that was a big part of what actually made the United States of America as great as it is?
Mr. Ryan and Mr. McConnell: have you read the memoirs of Franz von Papen lately? Do you care at all about defending our liberal democracy (small “l” and small “d”) from illiberal would-be tyrants? Yes you do know exactly what I am talking about. Franz von Papen and his fellow “conservative” aristocrats enabled extreme radicalism in Germany by convincing themselves that they could easily manipulate the vulgar and clownish Hitler. Yes, Nazi analogies are alarmist and hazardous, but you, Ryan and McConnell, know very well what you’re up to, you know you’re enabling Trump when you tolerate and tacitly encourage people like Devin Nunes. You know that when Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, is not allowed to look at the Nunes memo, something rotten is going on. You don’t want to be lumped in with Breitbart and Alex Jones, but that’s where you are now.
Franz von Papen, through dithering and denial. allowed Hitler to seize power in 1933. Von Papen did not foresee that norms would be no protection against a tyrant determined to seize all the levers of power. Does McConnell realize that if he lets the Senate recess, giving Trump the chance to appoint a new attorney general without Senate confirmation, he will have allowed Trump to shut down the rule of law? And that he, Mitch McConnell, in spite of mainstream media both-sidesism and what=aboutism, will not be remembered as anything but an enabler of dictatorship? I bet he does have an inkling of all this, but is still pretending to himself that he can somehow “drop Trump like a hot rock,” as he promised his Senate colleagues not too long ago. Good luck, Mitch. You will be remembered, one way or the other.
BTW if McConnell really wanted a “robust debate” on our healthcare system, he might try starting with public hearings, a Senate committee process, and “regular order” instead of the extreme secrecy (that Democrats have also used but never on an issue nearly this big). That is if Sen. McConnell actually cared about a robust debate.
Senator Mitch McConnell does seem to be channelling the chancellor of Germany circa 1932, Franz von Papen. Von Papen was confident that Hitler could be contained and manipulated. Hindenburg and von Papen gave Hitler’s Nazi party control over only three ministries, so how much could go wrong? McConnell has looked down his nose at Trump, and fidgeted a bit over a few of the more openly bigoted outbursts and retweets, but has spent more effort excusing and minimizing. Fritz Stern, who lived through “Five Germanies,” condemned von Papen as “the frivolous gravedigger of what was left of German democracy” in the early 1930s. Does McConnell want to be judged as a 21st-century American von Papen?
McConnell made light a couple of days ago of Trump’s remarks to the NYT undercutting NATO. A “rookie mistake,” said the senator, who went on to say that Trump was not unfit to be commander-in-chief because his implicit invitation to Putin to expand Russia’s hybrid warfare into NATO territory would be contrary to the views of “anybody he might make secretary of state or secretary of defense” (source: Greg Sargent, Washington Post Plum Line, July 21). Sargent comments: “We’ve reached a new level of absurdity. Now we are basically being told that the check against the threat Trump poses will come from his own cabinet officials.” Richard J. Evans wrote in The Coming of the Third Reich that “the complacent belief of Franz von Papen and his friends that they had Hitler where they wanted him did not last long” (p. 316). I wonder if Mitch McConnell is as complacent as von Papen? Maybe not, but he is so far nowhere near dropping Trump “like a hot rock,” as he is reported to have promised his Republican Senate colleagues earlier this year. If and when McConnell does take a look at Franz von Papen’s Memoirs, I hope that he can do so without the impediment of a President Trump whose Minister of Propaganda has “opened up the libel laws.”