Riding Out the Storm – Reaction to Trump's State of the Union Palaver

John Heilemann on Morning Joe this morning argued that we are already in a “rolling” Constitutional crisis, and he’s probably right. It’s certainly a crisis that is deepening all the time, and as is always the case in this country of lawyers, whenever we get into a really tough situation, when the going gets tough, the tough lawyer up.

It feels to me as though the whole political situation is turning into a nationwide court of law, or perhaps a law school professor’s classroom. (Never having been in one, I’m not sure what they are like, but that’s how it feels.) The arguments about what all the actors, from Mueller and Trump down to each and every Congress-critter and employee of the Justice Department, can and cannot do according to the statute books are getting very bewildering. But ever since the Declaration of Independence and the drafting of the Constitution, we always expect that the legal eagles will somehow sort it all out.

Except that eventually, events tend to drown out the lawyers’ speeches and 50-page briefs. If you look at the run-up to the Civil War, northern and southern lawyers hurled more and more sophisticated syllogisms at each other, until somebody fired on Fort Sumpter and the real conflict was on. In the course of the “Watergate controversy,” more and more legal terminology flew over people’s heads, until we got a chance to hear the actual taped voice of Tricky “Your President Is Not a Criminal” Dick, and it was all over for him.

Apparently we are not going to hear Trump taping himself, but we don’t need to, since in the interval from the 1970s to now, Twitter has been invented. Whether his Diet-Coke-fueled tirades doom him, or something we can’t imagine now brings a (hopefully) merciful end to the drama, we can only ride the process out. It seems to me like being on the deck of one of those old sailing ships in a hurricane, when one can only hang on and hope to survive, but I’ve never experienced that horror either.

qedd© Jon Johanning 2011