We are an optimistic people. And in today’s world, there’s the rub.
By nature, we are sure that the extremes of any given time will be corrected as the political climate changes and elections bring in new players. The great ship of state will always get back on an even keel and the excesses, or omissions, of one administration will be corrected in the next.
Maybe not this time.
The norms uprooted by President Donald Trump are possibly too many not to have left lasting damage to this Republic.
Consider just some of his transgressions:
— We have abandoned our place as the beacon of decency and the values enshrined in that.
— America’s good name has gone up in smoke, as with the Paris climate agreement and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear forces treaty.
— The president has meddled in our judicial system by intimidating prosecutors and seeking to influence judges.
— The president has blown on the coals of prejudice and sanctioned racial antagonism.
But above all, Trump has tested the constitutional limits of presidential power and found that it can be expanded exponentially. He has expanded executive privilege to absolute power.
Trump has done this with the help of the pusillanimous members of the Senate and the oh-so-malleable Attorney General Bill Barr — his new Roy Cohn.
The most pernicious of Trump’s enablers, the eminence grise behind the curtain, gets little attention. He is Rupert Murdoch, a man who has done a lot of good and incalculable harm.
The liberal media rails — indeed enjoys — railing against Fox News but has little to say about the 88-year-old proprietor who, with a single stroke, could silence Sean Hannity and tame Tucker Carlson (whom I know and like).
But Murdoch remains aloof and silent. The power of Fox is not its editorial slant but that it forms a malignant circle of harm. It is Trump’s daily source of news, endorsement, prejudice and even names for revenge.
There are two conservative networks, OAN and Newsmax. But neither has the flare that Fox has as a broadcast outlet, nor acts as the eyes and ears and adviser to the president.
I am an admirer of Murdoch in many ways. But like a president, maybe he should get a lot of scrutiny.
Murdoch’s newspapers in Australia, where they dominate, have rejected climate change, and possibly played a role in the country not being prepared for the terrible wildfires.
In Britain, he has stirred feeling against the European Union for decades. His Sun, the largest circulation paper, is Fox News in print and was probably the template for Fox having campaigned ceaselessly and vulgarly against Europe.
After long years of watching Murdoch in Britain and here, I know the damage he can do and why he should be named. I must say, though, that Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is a fine newspaper, better than before he bought it.
The Democrats, to my mind, present a sorry resistance. None of their presidential candidates has delivered a speech of vision, capturing the popular imagination.
Democrats search the news for the latest Trumpian transgressions and get a kind of comfort by seeing, by their lights, how terrible he is. But there is none of the old confidence that the president will be trounced in the next election and the ship of state will right itself because it always does.
Maybe it will list more.