Memoirs of the Addams Administration 25.

There have been four special Congressional elections since the general election of November 2016 put Donald Trump into the White House.  Democrats have fought hard to win these newly-opened seats, casting the votes as a referendum on the reality show of a Trump presidency.  To the alarm of Democrats, Republicans have won all four.[1]  In Georgia’s Sixth District the Democrats appeared to have a reasonable shot.[2]  Although the district had long given the Republican candidate 20-plus percent majorities, Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton there by only 1.5 percent and the Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, had almost reached the 50 percent mark in an April 2017 election amidst a crowded Democratic field.  In the run-off election between Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel, the Democrat claimed to be a centrist, while Handel portrayed herself as a mainstream Republican (rather than as a Trumpite).  Immense amounts of money ($55 million) from both sides passed through the campaigns and into the hands of local television stations and Washington consultants.  In the end, Handel triumphed by 52 to 48 percent of the vote.  That is, she did better than had Donald Trump.  Conservatives have commented that Ossoff’s “centrism” was bogus: he supports all the standard Democratic orthodoxies that have sent Southern Democrats streaming into the Republican party for decades: gun control, secular sharia, abortion-on-demand, and extensive regulation of the economy.[3]

According to Democrats, Donald Trump is in deep trouble with the law.  They point to the retention of private lawyers by Mike Pence, Jeff Sessions, and Jared Kushner as proof that the allegations of collusion made by Democrats “could be a big deal.”  However, Trump “believes that he’s the victim of a Democratic conspiracy to oust him from the White House.[4]  OK, now it’s out in the open.  Thing is, he’s probably correct.  When Green Party candidate Jill Stein challenged the vote count in a number of critical states, alleging un-specified “irregularities” and “Russian interference” with the vote count, money from aggrieved Clinton supporters poured in.  Trump foolishly[5] challenged the reports of the intelligence services on Russian hacking.  They responded with sun-burned “amour propre” by leaking secret information to embarrass the president.[6]  So far, there exists no actual evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.  Not even “circumstantial evidence.”  If there was no collusion, then it will be a stretch for prosecutors to prove that Trump “obstructed justice” rather than just tried to get James Comey to act the way a decent human being outside the Beltway might do.  Most of the quoted criticism comes from the New York Times, the New Yorker, and New York Magazine.  Partly, this reflects the collapse of print journalism in the rest of the United States.  Fewer points of view are represented.  Partly, it reflects the bifurcation of the United States into bi-coastal Democratic islands and “heartland” Republicans.  All the same, for a long time lots of Republicans believed that President Richard Nixon could not have broken the law.[7]  We live in an ugly political season.

[1] This includes a Montana race where the Republican won despite (because of?) body-slamming a reporter.

[2] “GOP holds seat in high-stakes Georgia election,” The Week, 30 June 2017, p. 5.

[3] As many scholars have demonstrated, race wasn’t the issue that caused Democratic decline in the South.

[4] “Trump goes on attack against special counsel,” The Week, 30 June 2017, p. 4.

[5] Being a fool is no legal bar to running in or winning a presidential election.  Look at Ted Kennedy or Jimmy Carter or George W. Bush or Mitt Romney.

[6] Good luck with that.  Embarrassing the president I mean.  Still, it is difficult to understand the American intelligence community’s leaks of information about the Manchester, Britain, bombing while President Trump was en route to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May as anything other than a jab at the president.

[7] That is, I may yet have to eat this line of reasoning.

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