From the Left



Symptoms of a Different Kind: Biden's May Be Mild, but the Former Guy's Aren't

Jeff Robbins on

On Thursday morning the news broke that President Joe Biden had tested positive for COVID-19, two and a half years after its outbreak. His symptoms were mild. Turns out the vaccine actually helps. Go figure.

But by Thursday night, with the close of the Jan. 6 committee's first set of hearings into former President Donald Trump's attempted coup d'etat, if anything was clear it was that the former president has symptoms of a different variety, and the last thing they are is mild. Just as Trump lied to Americans that COVID-19 was a nothingburger, that it was a media contrivance and that his administration had it "under control," he lied to Americans that he had won an election he lost.

It didn't matter that he knew he had lost -- he didn't want to stop being president, poor thing. So, he tried to bully election officials and state legislators into violating the law on his behalf. And when that didn't work, he tried to bully his vice president into violating not only the law but the Constitution on his behalf.

When that didn't work either he decided to summon a mob of crazies to storm the U.S. Capitol, watching in glee for three hours as his mob ransacked the Capitol, mauled and beat 100 police officers and, oh yes, threatened to hang the vice president who had refused to be bullied.

Along the way, Trump met with some truly certifiable advisers, off their rockers one and all, about seizing America's voting machines and ordering an election do-over in battleground states he had lost. The proffered justification? Well, what else: that the voting machines had been manipulated by a deceased Venezuelan, or maybe by Italians, or perhaps space aliens. He came close to appointing the barking mad attorney Sidney Powell to the newly created position "special counsel," deputized by Trump to bring charges against, well, anyone he wanted her to bring charges against. And considering that 81 million Americans chose Biden over Trump, that could have been a whole lot of charges.

For good measure he attempted to appoint an emergency attorney general who pledged to proclaim that the 2020 election was fraudulent because Trump lost it. Trump backed off only when informed that the Department of Justice would basically resign en masse if he did.

On Jan. 6 Trump watched the mayhem he had created with satisfaction, rejecting the pleas of the compos mentis around him to tell his supporters to stop the violence and go home. He told people that his mob's calls to hang the vice president were OK by him. And when he finally told the storm troopers who reported to him to stand down, it was only when it was plain they wouldn't succeed in overturning the election and keeping him in power.


Yes, Donald Trump has symptoms, all right, and we're not talking about a runny nose. When the committee showed outtakes from his reluctant taping of a video address to the nation on Jan. 7, the country saw a faker, forced by his daughter to disavow the previous day's attack, but refusing to say that the election was actually over. And for someone whose supporters quiver with excitement every time Joe Biden stumbles over a word, the outtakes weren't pretty. Trump had trouble with simple words. "'Yesterday' is a hard word for me," lamented Trump, who ordered his staff to remove the complex expression from the teleprompter.

There have been signs that lightbulbs that have stayed dark for inexplicably long have flickered on here and there. Focus groups of Trump voters in Wisconsin and Arizona announced that they wanted him criminally prosecuted. One dares to hope that if they believe he should be in prison they wouldn't vote for him, but, hey, who knows?

This past weekend the two newspapers most loyal to Trump, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, both published editorials stating that he was unfit to be president. Which brought one word to mind above others: Duh.


Jeff Robbins, a former assistant United States attorney and United States delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, was chief counsel for the minority of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. An attorney specializing in the First Amendment, he is a longtime columnist for the Boston Herald, writing on politics, national security, human rights and the Mideast.

Copyright 2022 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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