Distractions

Alan Zendell, July 5, 2018

The announcement of the retirement of Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy ushered in a week of chaos, depression, anger, and anxiety. In other words, it had exactly the effect Donald Trump hoped it would. For a week, the media obsessed on the impending loss of women’s rights and affirmative action, and the death knell for Roe v Wade, paying little or no attention to much else that the administration did. To listen to most of the talking heads, finding a way to preserve abortion rights was the most urgent problem facing our nation.

It isn’t. In the worst case, the Supreme Court might decree that abortion rights should be adjudicated by the states, but the populous left-leaning states in the Northeast, the West, and the northern lakes won’t be changing their laws. Frankly, the abortion issue is mostly a distraction right now, with no certainty about whether the Court will weigh precedent over politics.

We can’t do anything to derail Trump’s American Idol-style spectacle scheduled for next Monday when he says he’ll announce his choice to replace Kennedy. There’s no point speculating who he’ll pick because he places as much emphasis on confounding the so-called experts as finding the best judge. Whoever he picks, the confirmation drama will play out in the Senate, much the way the health care bill was decided.

Will Senators Collins and Murkowski be bought off if Trump selects a woman, even one like Amy Coney Barrett, whose extreme religious views go against all the things they say they believe in? Will Trump be able to coerce the red state Democrats who are on the ballot in November to vote his way? Will John McCain make a surprise appearance when it’s time to vote? Tune in Monday night for this must-see television event – or don’t.

Whatever you decide, don’t waste your time wondering if Michael Cohen is going to flip on the President and don’t forget about North Korea, which may already be cheating on the deal that hasn’t even been agreed to yet. Pay close attention to Trump’s words when he visits Putin next week, especially after the Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed Russia’s election tampering in a bipartisan report. And watch carefully as Trump’s trade war heats up. Keep track of how many American companies are hurt by tariffs, how many of your neighbors lose their jobs, and how much more you pay for the things you need. Personally, I have no intention of giving up Canadian maple syrup.

Above all, don’t take your eye off the ball. The midterm elections will be here in 124 days. November 6, 2018 could be our last opportunity to derail the Trump juggernaut before the damage he does is too advanced to reverse.

It’s possible that the most significant event this month will be the resignation of Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator. Not because Trump is likely to finally realize how important protecting the environment is or because he could appoint a new administrator who isn’t a tool of the industries the EPA is supposed to regulate. The real significance of Pruitt’s departure is what it tells us about the administration’s priorities.

Pruitt wasn’t fired. The only way that could have happened was if he had publicly called Trump out for his ignorant attitude toward science and the health of our planet. If Trump had awakened one morning and decided to fire him because his scandalous behavior was an affront to every American, or if Trump had a moral center of his own that felt violated by Pruitt’s outrageous and possibly illegal behavior, we might have reason to rejoice. But instead, Trump continues to claim Pruitt did a great job and praises him because he reminds him of himself – brash, bold, unrepentant, acting in complete disregard of laws, public sentiment, and common decency. Sound familiar?

Pruitt is gone simply because Trump got tired of the bad press he was getting over Pruitt. He was spending too much time defending him that he would rather spend aping for the cameras and bragging about all the wonderful things he’s accomplished. You don’t rain on Trump’s parade the way Pruitt did and expect to survive forever.

Look at Pruitt’s departure in its proper light. It’s nothing to celebrate. It only confirms how corrupt this administration’s values are. It won’t be long before Pruitt is sitting pretty in some energy company penthouse where he has his choice of hand lotions.

And remember what’s important when November rolls around. That’s all that matters now.

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