Legacies

Here’s what really bothers me as I follow impeachment, the Senate trial, and other political shenanigans in Washington, DC, right now: Aren’t any of these people protecting Trump thinking about their legacies?

Make no mistake about it: Even if Trump and his minions and enablers are successful in destroying democracy and making the U.S. into a haven for oligarchs, history is going to eviscerate him. And them.

I don’t know if our country will ever come back from the damage they’ve done. Like most people, I’m hoping the 2020 election saves us. But even if it doesn’t, even if these people keep winning, their legacies are toast.

I studied a lot of history. You see this over and over. I mean, what do you know about Caligula or Nero? And that was 2,000 years ago.

So why are they willing to lie — and many of them, including the lawyers, have been telling obvious, easily proven, lies — and make preposterous defenses on behalf of a man who should never have been allowed near the White House?

Given that I used to practice law, I do know that lawyers often take different positions for different clients, but the things being tossed around here are different from adjusting your arguments to your case.

I really don’t understand why someone like Rudy Giuliani, who managed to dupe a lot of people into believing he was a good major of New York after September 11, is willing to make such a fool of himself for this con man. I guess he’s making money out of it somehow and his divorces are expensive, but surely he knows that even if he doesn’t end up in prison, all the goodwill he once had isn’t going to let this go. In fact, a lot of people are starting to recognize that he was a lousy mayor and U.S. attorney, too.

I mean, there are a lot of historical figures who probably were assholes but did the right thing at the right time and we think they’re heroes. If you’ve done that in the past, why spoil it?

If you’re a respected law professor or a partner at a major law firm, why would you destroy the reputation you’ve made so far not just to defend that man, but to throw legal ethics (and no, that really is not an oxymoron) out the window while doing it?

For that matter, if you’re a U.S. senator, why do this?

Odds are all these people’s obituaries are going to focus on what they did for Trump. History certainly will. I find it hard to believe that anyone who has a respectable reputation wants that.

Though maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they don’t care as long as they have power now and as long as it doesn’t catch up with them before they die. Or as long as they’re rich now (I assume they know they can’t take all that money with them, but …).

I know some of them are willing to put our country in such a perilous position because they are getting judges and policies they want (even if they’re also getting a lot of nonsense they don’t). I assume that explains MoscowMitch.

I would not be at all surprised to find that some of these people have been blackmailed into their roles, particularly the ones who once took positions that are the absolute opposite of the ones they’re taking now.

Now there are some religious fanatics and white supremacists who find Trump a convenient vehicle. I’m not talking about them, because I assume it is their extremist belief that is motivating them.

But that still leaves us with people who don’t have any terrible skeletons in their closets, who aren’t extremists, and who don’t really need the money or the proximity to power.

Their legacy is the main thing they’ve got left, and they’re throwing it away on a con man out to destroy our country.

That makes no sense to me.

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Legacies — 21 Comments

  1. I’ve been thinking about how much all we do is balancing the needs of Present Me against Future Me. Even something as simple as making the bed. Present Me puts in the four minutes of work, because Future Me, twelve hours from now, is going to enjoy going to bed between nice tidy sheets. And of course all insurance, all checkups, mammograms, rotating your tires, paying into your pension fund — all of this is Present Me shifting assets to Future Me.
    But you can’t only live for Future Me. At some point you take that money so that Present Me can go to the beach or have a margarita. Otherwise you become Ebenezer Scrooge, hoarding everything for a future that may never come. It’s a balance.
    So, my idea is, Rudy Guiliani & co. have severed themselves from Future Me. They either don’t care about history, or have deluded themselves that they can lie to all of the people all of the time permanently. You will remember that Abraham Lincoln warned this was impossible.
    If you look back at, say, the Founding Fathers, they were all acutely aware of Future Me. They knew that what they were doing would not only carry them down into history, but was laying the foundation of the nation to come. Future Me drove the actions of Present Me. That’s the attitude not only of great leadership, but of a good person. You cannot be a decent human being if only Present Me is there.

  2. I don’t think the president recognizes Future Me. I suspect that, like a small child, he lives in the Now and sometimes in the aggrieved Before.

    For the others, tho? Having lived through Giuliani’s years as Mayor in New York, I can tell you he was always a bully, always a Prosecutor (I suspect one of the reasons he’s so lousy as defense counsel is that it may not present the same opportunities for bludgeoning and bullying others). But he used to have a sense of himself as GIULIANI, MAYOR. He’s wholly detached from that now. And, like, you, I don’t know what did it, or how it has happened to so many others in the seats of power.

  3. I don’t expect Trump to get it. It’s all the people who I thought were smart enough to know better who have abased themselves before him for what cannot be more than temporary advantage, thus making sure that we don’t remember them as the distinguished lawyers or leaders that they assume they are.

    With Giuliani, I think history would have given him a pass based on September 11, even though thoughtful historians would point out all the things wrong with that narrative. Now, though, he’ll be remembered as a clown and, if any justice is done, he’ll go to prison.

    I just don’t get why these people don’t understand that being associated with Trump is not going to end well. This isn’t based on my desire for that to happen (though I do hope this ends with a lot of people in prison), but on looking at how history treats the likes of that man. And many of those people are at a point in their career where legacy is the only thing they’re really working for.

  4. If the DEMS, every single one of them, whether elected, electioneering for office, leaving office, or just good citizen, don’t holler every day, everywhere about Trump’s announcement today that he’s going after Medicare and Social Security :

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/22/us/politics/medicare-trump.html

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/01/22/trump-appears-open-overhauling-social-security-medicare-break-2016-campaign/

    https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/trump-open-cut-entitlement-spending-social-security-medicare-interview-davos-2020-1-1028837128

    • Big yes. This is the sort of thing that makes us old people apoplectic, which means campaigning on not just keeping but improving Social Security and Medicare is a great campaign tool.

  5. Short term power (and money) is winning. Corporations are buying back stock instead of investing in their futures. Politicians are accepting (legal) bribes to win the next election and letting lobbyists write their laws. Right-wing “Christians” are working towards Armageddon. The future doesn’t matter. I want to get mine now and to hell with my legacy.

    • That explains some of them. It doesn’t explain the lawyers who had big reputations who are also in their 70s and have plenty of money and probably don’t believe in the Rapture. Those are the people who really puzzle me.

  6. BTW, I notice that Alan Dershowitz has an op-ed in the NY Times about why he’s representing Trump, but I don’t have the strength to read it tonight. If someone else does and finds something worth saying about it, please comment.

  7. Some people have invested in their self-image that what they’ve done all of their life must be Right and Proper. Maybe Most or even all people. But some people can’t get past that and accept that what they’ve done doesn’t work.

    • That makes sense, but I think you can be right wing and believe that making the rich richer is the way to go and still recognize that going along with Trump is a bad look. Of course, most of the people who think that way are begging the Democrats to nominate a Republican Lite candidate so they can vote for their money interests and avoid Trump. I’m tired of those people, too, but at least they make sense and going to be remembered fondly even if they’re idiots.

  8. Guiliani’s always been a d*ck. People’s mayor? my you know what. He was running for what was supposed to be the safe bunker command center that had been built beneath the Towers, not to help but for safety — when they realized that the Towers were the target and epicenter, and the millions upon millions upon millions safe bunker was — not. Then let’s talk about stop and frisk, windows policing and all the rest of it that created a terrible tension and misery here. Cop brutality, matter of course, and crazy shyte like shoving broomsticks up immigrant ‘suspect’s at the police station itself.

    A lot of us found him seriously corrupt and mendacious as the prosecutor too. He was always a terrible lawyer. There were just so many quite bright and talented people around him to do the work.

    That ‘people’s mayor’ thing really went to his head. But it was the tension between that phony image and what his guilty Catholic heart knew was a lie, that did him in all the way, one might think.

    • People’s Mayor my ass. During 9/11 he benefited by the comparison to GWB, who appeared stunned into insensibility. Before and after, he was a thug and a bully who shrouded his behavior in authority. No, I never liked the guy.

      • Even from a distance, I always thought so, too, so I’m glad it’s now obvious to everybody and really hope he not only gets remembered as the awful person he is, but gets his just desserts before he shuffles off.

  9. Burr’s reputation for wickedness is way overblown, when compared to the facts of his life. He never committed any level of damage to anyone, much less the country, than MM has. What he did was kill Hamilton in a duel — who was, you know, actually committing financial fraud and taking bribes.

    Hamilton and Burr were both excellent at personal debt. Just like Jefferson … who really did knowingly break laws and go against the Constitution even — something that is never taught, but was howled from the rooftops at the time, is the Louisiana Purchase was indeed unconstitutional and he did it without either informing Congress or getting its permission. Congress hated that, and so did many voters (who were only rich white men at that time).

  10. Conscious re-writing of history through hiring in one way or another the scholars and writers of chronicles, poetry and the artists of other entertainments was something going on millennia before the printing press! Charlemagne was one of the greatest masters of this. Sculptures, frescos, motifs, disfigured and broken in the Before Christian Era, by the victors in imperial conflicts, are good examples in themselves, along with the removal of the names of female pharaohs from walls and records, and the names of of Ghenghis Khan’s daughters, to whom he left most of his conquered empire, from the Mongolian Books of their history, are others.

    Jefferson spent huge amounts of money that he borrowed on the collateral of his possession of the enslaved to support newspapers and other writing that lauded him and his achievements, as a modern example.

    • Also never forget the glorious lost cause and states rights, and the putting up of statues lauding RE Lee throughout the south by the The United Daughters of the Confederacy, perhaps the greatest revision, rewriting of history in our time.

      https://www.history.com/news/how-the-u-s-got-so-many-confederate-monuments

      And my did the vile Birth of a Nation aid and assist massively!

      There are so many modes to rewrite history, er outright lie, and currently the rethugs are using all of them all the time currently.

      • I never forget the lost cause, etc. I was raised on it and that despite the fact that my parents were politically opposed to it. It was in the air we breathed. Truth is, I never expected it to be questioned the way it is now and I get more furious every time I realize how different the last 150 years could have been in the country if people hadn’t let that nonsense happen.

        Yes, powerful people are able to manipulate history so that they look good, and, in many cases, that becomes the narrative most know. The myth of Ronald Reagan is the most obvious of the recent ones. His administration set in place what we’re dealing with now, but it is still appears to be impossible for the mainstream media (and perhaps mainstream historians) to acknowledge just how much damage he did.

        Perhaps the many minions latching onto the con man in our White House believe that they’re going to be able to do the same thing now, but I don’t think so. I’m not just being an optimist here. I believe this so-called administration will be reviled not just in history, but in the near future. If I were a conservative, I’d keep as far away from them as possible and try to pull together others like me to build a new conservative party.

        I’m not sure the country is going to survive this era. I’m not sure these people will leave when they’re defeated. I’m worried about the amount of violence we may see. I’m worried that we’re still counting on a broken system to fix things (even as I hope and pray the system manages to do so). But I am confident that, whatever happens, Trump and his minions will be seen as the disaster they are.