Be simpler in that case if the government
Dissolved the people and
— Bertolt Brecht
In the wake of retired Intelligence Chief James Clapper’s statement that Trump is mentally unfit to be president and that his instability renders his access to the nuclear launch codes a threat to the survival of the planet, former Obama hand warmer David Axelrod has announced that more people need to be run over by Nazis before he gets on board with helping to remove Trump from office.
Speaking on CNN Axelrod performed the political trick of riding two horses with one ass. While he respects General Clapper, he said, and knows him to be a non-partisan sober minded rationalist, Axelrod believes that making use of the 25th Amendment is too dangerous. Once you engineer what Trump supporters would call a bloodless coup, he says, it will never stop.
Let’s unpack this limp dick appeasement.
On the one hand Axelrod is saying the system, the constitutional system of checks and balances must be observed. Except for those parts of it of which he does not approve like the 25th Amendment which is designed specifically in part to allow for the removal of a president who is deemed mentally unhinged and poses a threat to national security if not to the safety of civilization.
On the other one assumes Axelrod is suggesting that Trump must be endured until there is an election with results that are favorable to him and establishment hacks like Nancy Pelosi. And never mind that Trump is clearly insane and not competent to run the country. Never mind that he has stoked a resurgent fascist movement across the country which is tantamount to supporting a domestic terrorist campaign that seeks to destabilize the very system of checks and balances Axelrod claims to support. Never mind that Trump’s insanity and access to the nuclear arsenal poses a threat to the survival of humanity. Never mind that he is threatening to crash the government and prevent it from functioning (a prospect that could usher in the very ingredients for the coup Axelrod claims to fear) Axelrod is afraid that removal by the 25th Amendment or impeachment will open an endless succession of coups and counter coups – as if that has not already been the standard operating procedure for over two centuries.
While his seemingly casual disregard for the obvious threat Trump poses to his own safety is disturbing enough the disregard for the historical facts is almost as troubling.
To cite just one example – like it or not the Nixonites were right when they said it was a coup that removed their chief. The fact that Nixon was an unhinged monster is an added truth but even if it weren’t true his resignation was the blunt end of a bloodless coup and it wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last. Ignore the foul presence of fascist goons like J. Edgar Hoover and pretend at your peril that he did not engineer one coup after another; disregard the use of bugs on campaign planes by LBJ or that according to legitimate biographies he literally stole ballot boxes to win access to his first seat in Congress. Ignore the litany of backroom deals, shattered reputations and bribes and join hands with Axelrod around the campfire of American exceptionalism.
But it doesn’t stop there. What Axelrod is also saying is that in some sort of reverse Francis Fukuyama sowcow he views history as a fixed form of political trench warfare in which set piece battles are fought and won or fought and lost. But he implies, if one were to abandon that Maginot line strategy one would pass a political failsafe from which neither history nor the nuclear option of bloodless coups could ever be called back.
This is not only a preposterous reading of the facts and an absurd construction of the nature of history and politics (which is perpetual war by other means) it is in the end, a morally indefensible justification for keeping the republic out of the hands of the people.
A third of the electorate, says Axelrod, voted for Trump. Therefore, because they would be outraged at the democratic exercise of the rights guaranteed by the constitution, we the people, (the other portion of the electorate that not only didn’t vote for Trump and did not surrender our civil liberties after November 2016), must put up with a postmodern Caligula as president. We must ignore the warnings of a man Axelrod describes as sober minded and nonpartisan and patiently wait for more fascist psychopaths to run people over with their cars. Or for them to walk into churches and start shooting. Or to start blowing up buildings. Or setting them on fire and blaming the Jews or the Muslims or whomever they want to use as a scapegoat.
But all of that is not enough. Because Axelrod is not an idiot, exactly.
What appears to lurk beneath the greasy surface of Axelrod’s comments is not a fear of Trump being removed but a fear that if he were removed too soon the Democratic establishment would open a door to a coup against its power. Wait, says Axelrod until Nancy Pelosi is again Speaker of the House and then and only then can we discuss a bloodless coup. This is not Axelrod defending the constitution nor is it a robust defense of Trump but is in truth a facile and feckless defense of the status quo in which the neo-liberal Republican-lite establishment Democrats remain in power.
When the mushroom clouds form we can all gather under the umbrella of Axelrod’s sense of caution and pray. And then we can all meet at the grave of Heather Heyer and sing Axelrod’s praises under the warm glow of radioactive fallout and the charred remains of our republic while Trump’s enraged base of knuckle dragging mouth breathing neo Nazis begins rounding up the people they don’t like.
David Axelrod. Yet another profile in courage.