“Listen to me, Frankenstein. You accuse me of murder; and yet you would, with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own creature. Oh, praise the eternal justice of man!”
-Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein, 1818.
This is the most remarkable thing ever said to a President of the United States:
“We could talk all day but looks like you have a million things to do.”
Brian Kilmeade is one of the co-hosts of the Fox News Channel’s morning show, Three Dolts on a Divan. The president* watches this show every day because what else does he have to do, right? It was one of the Fox shows that created him as a viable national political figure, and one of the few shows anywhere completely committed to sustaining him as such. On Thursday morning, he called in, and, over the next several minutes, had what can be gently called an “episode.”
In no particular order, he threatened to bring the Justice Department under his personal control; praised his magnificent performance in office; defended his nominee to run the VA even though said nominee already had pulled his name from consideration; threw Michael Cohen overboard; admitted he had spent that fateful night in Moscow at the Miss Universe pageant; ranted about the crimes of James Comey, the perfidy of Jon Tester, and the rank dishonesty of the media; and explained to the nation that Abraham Lincoln had been a Republican, which, “people don’t realize.”
And then Kilmeade cut him off.
Has a president ever been cut off of an interview before? The president is not the author of a cookbook or a movie star pitching a movie. Interviews with the president end when the president wants them to. And what self-respecting newsman would bail out a president who so clearly was headed full speed off to the far suburbs of Crazytown?
Apparently, Brian Kilmeade.
(By the way, one of the charges leveled against Dr. Ronny Jackson was that he dispensed various prescription meds as though they were M&M’s. One of these was modafinil, which Jackson allegedly doled out as a quick pick-me-up to various White House officials during long and exhausting overseas trips. Considering that the president* went about five minutes with the Fox morning crew before he came to a comma, I’m wondering if Jackson left the key to the medicine cabinet behind. I’m not saying, but I’m just saying…)
On Wednesday, when Senator Rand Paul took a dive on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State, some folks around the Capitol were wondering why Paul would stand up to Mitch McConnell, who could do his career as a senator some serious damage, but always fold like the cheap suit he is any time the eye of Sauron from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue turns in his direction. I don’t think Paul is atypical in this regard. It is true that the fact that the Republicans have gone AWOL on standing up to the president* has a lot to do with the fact that they’re getting an awful lot of the policies for which they’ve been slavering for 40 years, to say nothing of planting larval wingnuts all over the federal judicial system. (McConnell at this point looks like Lucy at the chocolate plant, trying to get as many of these critters confirmed as he can before Beggar’s Day arrives in November.) But I think there’s more to it than that.
All of these guys can deal with the possibility of political defeat, even with the possibility of political destruction. It’s something they live with every day of their lives-Hell, they have to start raising money for the reelect about 11 minutes after the polls close. This is a familiar peril to them. But, as was demonstrated in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, what this particular president* can hold over their heads is an existential personal threat.
Beating them for the nomination was a byproduct. He destroyed them as public people and, possibly, as private people as well. Don’t you think Chris Christie, or Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz are aware of how easily he turned them as people into objects of public ridicule? Don’t you think other Republicans took note of this? Do you think he knows any other way? Answer the last question first.
On the electric Twitter machine Thursday morning, historian Heather Cox Richardson hipped us to an inexact, but interesting, historical parallel to our current moment. In 1866, President Andrew Johnson was running out of friends. Lincoln Republicans distrusted him because he was a Democrat from the South, and because he was coddling the formerly treasonous, and also because he was sockless drunk about half the time. Frustrated with his rejection by what we would today call “the establishment,” Johnson decided to hit the road prior to the that year’s midterm elections and take his case to The People. This did not go well.
Johnson barnstormed the country, deep in his cups much of time. On what he called his “swing around the circle," Johnson blindly lashed out at his many enemies, real and imagined, in a fashion that one historian has called “ill-tempered, semi-insane, and thoroughly undignified.” One of his main campaign planks was to suggest that the states refuse to ratify the 14th Amendment. He accused the Lincoln Republicans of fomenting violence among the newly enfranchised African-American citizens. He even blamed Republicans-and black people-for the white supremacist rebellion in New Orleans. There was a catastrophic appearance in Cleveland when Johnson was heckled and began raving back in response.
Of the “swing around the circle,” The New York Heraldconcluded:
It is mortifying to see a man occupying the lofty position of President of the United States descend from that position and join issue with those who are dragging their garments in the muddy gutters of political vituperation.
They hadn’t seen anything yet.
Video: Accusations Against White House Doctor Ronny Jackson
Respond to this post on the Esquire Politics Facebook page here.
You Might Also Like