“Any normal politician would be worried about saying anything wrong about a disease like this,” says Ben Rhodes. “Trump, because he has an incapacity to be shamed, clearly felt a certain freedom to just stand up there and lie or to tweet things that weren’t true, because he knew in his mind that, if this does get bad, I can just always rewrite the history of it.”
It’s not because Trump doesn’t have the capacity to be shamed. This isn’t about his FEELINGS. It’s because actually nobody in his party will do anything to stop him.
We used to think of these things as like natural occurrences, right? Politician says or does something terrible, they get held to account. By the press! By the people’s outrage! By “history!” Hasn’t anyone noticed it doesn’t work like that anymore? That absent any opposition in power whatsoever, it’s apparently entire about sternly written letters and “more in sorrow than in anger” editorials chronicling the decline of the nation without doing anything about it.
I am optimistic about our chances of electing Joey B. Shark, because I have to be, because what is the option here. Despair isn’t a plan. I’m sure there are still people out there for whom “making things worse because THIS TIME PEOPLE WILL LEARN” is a plan, but spoiler alert, we’re all quarantined during a major pandemic because Fuckstick McGee couldn’t wrap his brain around it.
But that isn’t enough. We don’t have, as it turns out, a system that can withstand two people — the president and a powerful supporter in Congress — deciding to just not act like any of it matters. So how do we make it matter? We can’t just elect normies and be like oh, okay, this will never happen again. This will totally happen again, and while the prescient among us saw Trump coming the next time it might not be so obvious.
All the shit we hate right now? We need to enshrine prevention into law. All the things we think are so outrageous, and I’m not talking about moving someone’s chair in the press room, need to be prevented not by shame but by actual consequences. We can’t continue to have Democrats resign for scandals that barely ruffle Republicans’ feathers. We can’t keep being ruled by whoever can get the most people to call into C-SPAN and scream.
I am optimistic about electing Joey B. Shark but if we think that takes us back to normal, as he desperately does, by some kind of magic, we’re all kidding ourselves.