The battle to bury Donald Trump is now entering its third phase.
The initial phase was the confident view of the Never Trumpers, led briefly by Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, that Trump was a freakish and horrifying phenomenon who had been endured and would vanish and almost be forgotten but not seen, again.
The Democrats having been stretched so uncomfortably by Trump—and despite having the support of 95 percent of the national political media and outspending him two to one—had to have recourse to unverifiable, post-electoral, lopsided Biden vote drops after Election Day to squeak to victory, were less sanguine.
They organized an airtight media debunking of his election challenge, which was made more plausible by the amateurish scattergun performance of the Trump legal team, chasing after eccentric irregularities rather than focusing upon the constitutional legality and vote counting integrity in the six swing states. (Peggy Noonan subtly suggested in The Wall Street Journal on June 6 that any question of the election was “conspiracism.”)
As if it were a silver stake to drive into the heart of a sleeping vampire, they magnified the Jan. 6 invasion by hooligans at the Capitol into an attempted insurrection, the subject of an impeachment, (with no supportive evidence, but that’s a detail), attempted the removal from office of someone who’d already retired the office at the end of his term, and thundered from every rooftop in America that Trump was a lawless aspiring dictator unfit for any office of trust, public or private.
The fact that that attempt fizzled was highlighted by the recent uproar that the Republican Party has become a personality cult. Trump hasn’t been the subject of any greater personality cult than a number of other presidents including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. They were all, at least at times, popular presidents and it served the interests of their down-ballot partisans to line up on their coattails.
Distinguished historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. recounted the story of the “Shorenstein System”: a New York municipal official (Hymie Shorenstein) complained that he had no campaign and the ward captain asked if he had noticed that the ferryboats around New York harbor brought floating garbage in behind them when they docked, and said that the name of his ferry boat was Franklin D. Roosevelt.
What is really happening here—and it hasn’t happened since Andrew Jackson—is that there is an imperishable mass attachment to someone who was ostensibly defeated in the last election and who has been banned from most of the media and all of the social media. The real subject of the Democrats’ and Never Trumpers’ vexation is their own inability to separate Trump from his immense following or to shrink that following.
The Democrats have had to govern for the past 140 days and only their hammer-lock on the totalitarian Trump-hating national political media has maintained the levitation of this new administration’s completely unwarranted approval rating. The bumblebee has denied all laws of nature but it is an industrious and inoffensive creature; that can’t be said of this administration.
In the light of the failure of the effort to destroy Trump’s popularity among Republicans and to banish him from public esteem, we are now on to phase 3, which is a resumption of the protracted legal attempt to destroy him. First came the sequel to the Russia–Trump collusion fraud and the two spurious impeachment trials, then the complete failure to generate any evidence of an attempt by him to incite mob violence on Jan. 6—despite detaining the accused for five months in shakedown operations presumably designed to extort inculpatory evidence—and now, the well-publicized attempt to indict the former president.
The rabidly partisan attorney general of New York state, Letitia James, was elected on her endlessly repeated promise to indict then-President Trump. The other attempts to rid themselves of Trump having failed, James has advanced to the front rank of the Trump assassination squad by publicizing the fact that the long-standing investigation into Trump and his business interests is now a criminal investigation.
As Alan Dershowitz remarked on Newsmax on June 5, it’s easy for a prosecutor to weaponize the law against political enemies. The old truism is that a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich if the district or U.S. attorney asked for it.
Since Trump has been under this kind of legal scrutiny for decades, it’s almost inconceivable that he actually broke any laws, and although it isn’t much noticed, repeated attempts to establish that he had broken any laws have been egregious fiascos.
Given that James was elected to her position largely on the basis of her promises to indict Trump, any civilized jurisdiction would throw the case out before it began, if he is indicted. No jurisdiction ruled by James and Cyrus Vance Jr. and governed by Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo qualifies as civilized.
But the Democrats should be careful. Despite biases against Trump, it will be obvious to a great many people that any indictment is a political hit job fulfilling a campaign promise. And getting 12 jurors out of 12 to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that there is conclusive evidence of a crime when there is unlikely to be any evidence at all, could be the political escapade that finally blows the Trump-haters to pieces.
It should have happened when Trump–Russia collusion fraud collapsed and may still, if John Durham, the absent-without-leave special counsel in the matter, ever actually reports out; it should have happened after both impeachment farces.
But if the Democrats throw this switch, they could be like the colonel in the film “Bridge on the River Kwai,” falling dead on the detonator that blew up his bridge, though their conduct hasn’t been as well-intentioned or explicable as was that of Alec Guinness in that movie.
Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world. He’s the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and, most recently, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other,” which has been republished in updated form. You can hear more of Conrad’s thoughts on his podcast “Scholars & Sense” alongside his co-hosts Bill Bennett and Victor Davis Hanson at ScholarsAndSense.buzzsprout.com.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.