Alan Zendell, February 15, 2022
Remember the (Bill) Clinton years? They provide interesting perspectives for today. The politics of the nineties were nasty, culminating in the 2000 election in which George W. Bush’s victory over Al Gore was as much a statement by the right-leaning Supreme Court as a clear decision based on vote counts. It could have been a national disaster. Were there even a shred of similarity between Al Gore and Donald Trump, the final decision could have been dragged through the courts and the media well past inauguration day with violent demonstrations in the streets of Washington.
Gore chose to accept defeat because healing partisan divisions over the election and the six-week battle over counting Florida’s votes, and defending the transfer of power clause of the Constitution were more important to him than winning. To fully appreciate just how venal Donald Trump’s inability to accept defeat is, I recommend Gore’s concession speech to Bush. He began by quoting Stephen Douglas’ concession to Abraham Lincoln: “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you…in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country.” Can you imagine Trump speaking those words?
Another perspective from that time begins with the husband-wife duo James Carville (Democrat) and Mary Matalin (Republican.) Their spirited, pointed, on-air debates entertained us throughout Clinton’s presidency. They argued their points of view fiercely, but with neither rancor nor appeals to hate or racism. Consider their counterparts for the Trump years, Kellyanne and George Conway.
Kellyanne ran Trump’s 2016 campaign and served as senior advisor throughout his administration, to all appearances a wholehearted participant in the evolution of Trumpism. It was she who first used the phrases “fake news” and “alternative facts.” George was a conservative Republican who Trump initially considered for Solicitor General, but George withdrew his name as the reality of the Trump presidency evolved. As Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party seemed unstoppable, George changed his party affiliation from Republican to Independent and became a leading voice of the Lincoln Project, prominent current and former Republicans working to assure that Trump would be defeated in 2020.
Kellyanne left the White House amid family turmoil emanating from her association with Trump. Her teenage daughter had become a social media sensation blasting both her mother and Trump, a poignant reminder of Trump’s unique ability to wreck both families and life-long friendships. Recently, Kellyanne joined the Republican primary race to replace Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who is retiring to escape the partisan gridlock. According to Forbes, Bernie Moreno, the candidate she’s advising, described Trump as a lunatic and a maniac in 2016, vowing to never support him, yet (big surprise) he’s running as a Trump ally.
George is now this generation’s James Carville, despite their very different political views. What they have in common is love for America and respect for the Constitution. George is a sought-after commentator who thoroughly understands the threat Trump poses to America and has devoted himself to stopping him. An attorney with a Yale law degree whose legal opinions are well respected and a long-time observer of presidential politics, he’s someone I listen to attentively.
Today, when George Conway granted media interviews to CNN, NBC, Yahoo News, et al, I couldn’t wait to hear what he thought about the New York State Attorney General’s revelation that the accounting firm Mazars, which had handled the finances of the Trump Organization for years had informed Trump in writing that his financial records from 2010 through 2020 were unreliable. In English that means Trump and his people falsified numbers to acquire loans and falsified them again to receive low tax assessments on their properties. That is felony fraud.
Conway’s take: “This is worse for [Trump] than being impeached twice,” because the worst possible outcome from an impeachment is being thrown out of office, but if Trump is proven guilty, his businesses and his private life will be threatened. Most large banks have been reluctant to loan Trump money for many years, because people on the inside knew he lacked business ethics and routinely ran out on debts. Now that his accounting firm has divorced him, accusing him of falsifying the data he gave them, it’s clear, as Conway put it, that they’re now playing on Team Attorney General and Team (Manhattan) District Attorney, not team Trump.
Conway’s final salvo caught my eye most. He said New York AG Letitia Jones can file a civil suit against the Trump organization and family under a New York statute that does not require proof of intent. The Mazars letter would then constitute sufficient proof of Trump and his associates’ guilt. Ms. James appears to be close to charging him. She knows what most of us know. An indictment will severely weaken Trump’s political influence, and that cannot happen too soon. Our country’s future is hanging in the balance.