This is what comes of humoring a lawless demagogue.
Insurrectionists shattering windows and storming the U.S. Capitol in Donald Trump’s name. An armed standoff between guards and anarchists at the entrance to the House chamber. Senators and congressmen in gas masks barricaded in their offices on a day designated for them to fulfill their constitutional obligation to confirm President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election as the 46th president of the United States.
Where is the Cabinet, invoking the 25th amendment to remove this deluded narcissist from office for the unprecedented threat he poses to American democracy? Why was he allowed to spend most of Wednesday afternoon luxuriating in the Oval Office, watching televised images of the vandals he incited sack the Capitol, including a rioter with his feet propped on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office, displaying a message scrawled on a manilla folder: “We will not back down.”
What was normal about the Commander-in-Chief’s brief videotaped response to the rioting in which a purportedly law-and-order president continued to air his baseless grievances, reinforced the fallacy that he had won the election and comforted the “special people” who were wreaking havoc on Capitol Hill? It was not insane that, even as Trump urged rioters to go home, he took that moment to tell them that he understands their pain and “loves” them?
Make no mistake. It was Trump who let loose the violent chaos on Capitol Hill, inciting his supporters at a morning rally on the Ellipse to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to disrupt a joint session of Congress. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness,” the deranged incumbent told his acolytes. “You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” Rudolph Guiliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and fellow conspiracy theorist, stoked the protesters’ rage even further, calling for “trial by combat” to keep Trump in office.
In a national address, Biden rightly characterized the “God-awful display” at the Capitol as a “siege” by a “mob” stoked to violence by a president who has refused to accept the results of an election that has been certified by every state in the union and confirmed by dozens of state and federal courts. “The words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is," Biden said. "At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite."
Incite Trump did, giving lie to the pretense that there is anything normal about this toxic presidency.
Where, one has to ask, during this assault on democracy were the police who were so much in evidence last summer during peaceful Black Lives Matter protests? Why no mass arrests of the thugs who breached barricades and smashed windows to gain entry to the Capitol — a building Biden called the “citadel” of democracy — to rifle through the desks of senators and congressman on the floor of both chambers? It was only months ago that law enforcement officers in riot gear pushed peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters out of Lafayette Park, using tear gas and rubber pellets, to facilitate a photo opportunity for Trump to hold up a Bible in front of St. John’s Church.
At another time of peril for the world’s democracies, Winston Churchill invoked an old Chinese warning: “Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers from which they dare not dismount.”
The attack was a reminder, the president-elect told the nation, that “democracy is fragile. To preserve it requires people of goodwill and leaders to stand up.”
Donald Trump is not that leader now, nor has he ever been.
At another time of peril for the world’s democracies, Winston Churchill invoked an old Chinese warning: “Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers from which they dare not dismount.” Today, Donald Trump said as much to his supporters, “We will never give up. We will never concede.”
Let’s finally take this shameless self-promoter at his word.
Invoke the 25th Amendment and deny a would-be autocrat the opportunity to inflict more damage on democracy in his last 14 days in the White House.