The New Zombie President

The Walking Dead – the television series with the zombies – is in its tenth highly successful season – because Americans cannot get enough of those who won’t die and eat the brains of others in order to survive, even if they’re actually dead and, technically, not really surviving. Of course this makes no sense. But the production values and special effects are impressive, and there’s just something about zombies. They’re fascinating. They’re dangerous. And why won’t they die?

Perhaps they’re a metaphor. There are those things in real life that refuse to die and just go away. Those are the things that eat your brain too. It’s not just those ear worms, those odd old pop songs that get stuck in your head. There are people who won’t go away, even if they should. There’s Donald Trump. He’s not the president now. He lost the election. He’s just another private citizen. He should be obscure now, or at least be quiet. This isn’t his time. And why is he eating our brains?

He just won’t die, metaphorically of course. George W. Bush took up painting and pretty much shut up. Jimmy Carter builds houses for the poor and says little about anything. Barack Obama lives a private life. He chimes in only when necessary. Each of them stepped aside. It was time, but Trump won’t. He’s still here. He’s still angry. He still wants to eat your brains, metaphorically of course.

He’s now the new zombie president. Politico reports this:

Former President Donald Trump issued a caustic and highly personal statement against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday, effectively declaring war on the Kentucky Republican for failing to back his attempts to undermine the 2020 election.

“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” Trump said in the statement released by his PAC.

So, Trump will not fade away, because like the walking dead, he will have his revenge:

McConnell publicly soured on the former president after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, breaking four years of support from the Senate leadership. Though he voted against convicting Trump at the Senate impeachment trial, he said from the Senate floor that Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the insurrection, which left at least five people dead.

McConnell objected to the constitutionality of convicting a former president. But he also told his caucus that Trump could face criminal prosecution.

And then Mitch made it worse:

McConnell penned a Sunday op-ed in The Wall Street Journal defending his decision, which particularly angered Trump, according to a person familiar with the situation. Trump dictated the Tuesday statement himself, the person said, and the version that went out was toned down from the former president’s original comments. Another source familiar with the situation said Jason Miller, a top Trump adviser, took the lead in writing the final version of the statement.

Trump was out for blood, metaphorically:

A person familiar with the crafting of the statement confirmed that it could have been far worse. An earlier draft mocked McConnell for having multiple chins, the person said. But Trump was convinced by advisers to take it out.

“There was also a lot of repetitive stuff and definitely something about him having too many chins but not enough smarts,” the person said.

McConnell shrugged:

A spokesperson for McConnell did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s statement. But in an interview with POLITICO on Saturday evening, the minority leader suggested he was not going to allow Trump to stand in the way of Republicans taking back the Senate majority in 2022. McConnell said that he would be willing to get involved in a GOP primary if the Trump-backed Senate candidate was less likely to win a general election.

“My goal is, in every way possible, to have nominees representing the Republican Party who can win in November,” he said. “Some of them may be people the former president likes. Some of them may not be. The only thing I care about is electability.”

McConnell simply wants to win, and QAnon assholes don’t win, and anyway, many do side with him:

While Trump allies like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are making it clear they’re sticking with the former president, most Senate Republicans followed McConnell’s lead during the Senate impeachment trial. Even though only seven Republicans voted to convict, the vast majority did not defend Trump’s behavior and instead focused on the legal arguments against a Senate conviction.

Trump doesn’t care. McConnell is the one who has screwed up everything:

In his statement, Trump blamed McConnell for Republicans’ loss in controlling the Senate last year. He cast McConnell as an unpopular and out-of-touch leader who particularly undercut support for Senate Republicans over his objection to $2,000 Covid stimulus checks.

Trump claimed McConnell had “no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings.” McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, served as Trump’s secretary of Transportation for four years before resigning in the wake of the Capitol insurrection. She came under scrutiny in 2019 for her family’s business dealings in China.

But everyone is out to get him:

Trump repeatedly attacked Republicans who refused to support his baseless claims of a stolen election. After Georgia’s Republican governor and secretary of state both rejected Trump’s efforts to delegitimize President Joe Biden’s win, Trump took to the rally stage to threaten primary challenges against both.

And when former Vice President Mike Pence refused to reject the election results when presiding over the joint session of Congress to certify the votes, Trump sent out a derisive tweet and Trump-supporting rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence” as they breached the Capitol.

Yes, people will die, but the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin emphasize this:

The 600-word statement, coming three days after the Senate acquitted him in his second impeachment trial, was trained solely on Mr. McConnell and sought to paint Mr. Trump as the best leader of the G.O.P. going forward.

The statement did not include any sign of contrition from Mr. Trump for his remarks to a crowd of supporters who then attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. Nor did it include any acknowledgment of his role during the violent hours in which his own vice president and members of Congress were under threat from the mob of Trump supporters.

Rather, Mr. Trump chose to focus on Mr. McConnell as he broke an unusually lengthy silence by his standards, after being permanently barred from his formerly favorite medium – Twitter – last month because of tweets that he posted during the Capitol riot.

But he may not be getting through:

In private, Mr. McConnell has said he believed the impeachment proceedings would make it easier for Republicans to eventually purge Mr. Trump from the party. And he expressed surprise, and mild bemusement, at the hatchet-burying mission made to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla., by Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader.

In public, Mr. McConnell has sharply criticized Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the extremist freshman and Trump devotee from Georgia, while defending Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming after her vote to impeach the former president.

What Mr. McConnell has not done, though, is openly declare political war on Mr. Trump in the fashion that the former president did to him on Tuesday. While telling associates he knew he would have to oppose the former president in some primaries next year, he had hoped to unify his caucus by turning attention to Mr. Biden.

That’s it. Talk Biden. Ignore Trump. Ignore him and he’ll fade away. But zombies don’t fade away:

“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Mr. Trump said. “McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from majority leader to minority leader, and it will only get worse.”

Mr. Trump offered up some new taunts: “The Democrats and Chuck Schumer play McConnell like a fiddle – they’ve never had it so good – and they want to keep it that way!” he said. “We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last.”

While Mr. McConnell has faulted the former president for the party’s losses last month in both Senate races in Georgia, Mr. Trump maintained that it was because Republican voters were angry that the party’s officials had not done more to address his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.

That last comment made no sense. Those people loved Trump so much that in their anger they voted for those two Democrats? Yeah, well, whatever:

After Mr. Trump made his statement on Tuesday, some of Mr. McConnell’s longtime supporters suggested that they knew bait when they saw it.

“Trump going total-mean girl ought to feed the cable beast for weeks,” Janet Mullins Grissom, the senator’s first chief of staff, wrote on Twitter.

Or maybe it won’t feed anything. Someone came up with a zombie killer:

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit accusing former president Donald Trump, lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and two extremist groups whose members have been charged in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol of illegally conspiring to intimidate and block Congress’s certification of the 2020 election.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) alleged in federal court in Washington that Trump’s and Giuliani’s false claims that the election was stolen fomented a raid that violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 law enacted after the Civil War to bar violent interference in Congress’s constitutional duties.

This is not bullshit. This is a real law, about a real crime:

The lawsuit alleges that Trump, Giuliani, and members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys far-right groups sought to harass and impede lawmakers, and temporarily succeeded, forcing Thompson and others to don gas masks and take cover on the House gallery floor before being evacuated to shelter in the Longworth House Office Building with more than 200 other representatives, staffers and relatives.

Trump’s “gleeful support of violent white supremacists” instigated the assault, gravely endangered lawmakers and encouraged future authoritarianism, Thompson said in a statement. “While the majority of Republicans in the Senate abdicated their responsibility to hold the President accountable, we must hold him accountable for the insurrection that he so blatantly planned.”

Oh, right, the denial:

In a statement, Trump spokesman Jason Miller said that “President Trump has been acquitted in the Democrats’ latest Impeachment Witch Hunt, and the facts are irrefutable. President Trump did not plan, produce or organize the Jan. 6th rally on the Ellipse. President Trump did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6th. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser must answer questions as to why they rejected additional security and National Guard assistance in the run-up to Jan. 6th.”

This was all Nancy’s fault. Trump did nothing. No, not really:

The lawsuit named as defendants, Giuliani, Proud Boys International LLC and the Oath Keepers, addressed to founder Stewart Rhodes. Giuliani, his attorney and Rhodes did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio called the lawsuit frivolous and doubted it would be allowed to proceed in federal court. He said he had nothing to do with the breach.

“Were there Proud Boys that went in? Yes, and they’re idiots. They shouldn’t have gone in. But I’m going to support them because they are my brothers,” Tarrio said in a telephone interview. “But there was no plan to go into the Capitol. Unfortunately, one of my guys broke a window. Others trespassed. But there was no plan to even interrupt Congress.”

That won’t fly:

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on courts, and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), chairwoman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation, expect to join the suit, said Thompson, who is being represented by the NAACP and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll.

“Donald Trump has tried to destroy the nation, and we will not let him get away with it,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said.

And this might work:

The 1871 law was requested and signed during Reconstruction by President Ulysses S. Grant, who invoked it that October to suppress violence in the South, including in nine South Carolina counties in rebellion. The law helped break the power of the Klan and other groups terrorizing Black voters, and marauding lawmakers elected to Congress from readmitted former Confederate states, but it has not been used as Tuesday’s lawsuit contemplates in modern times.

The Supreme Court also has ruled that presidents enjoy absolute immunity for actions undertaken in their official capacity, a term that courts have interpreted generously.

Thompson’s attorneys argue that directing an assault on a coequal branch of government in no way qualifies as protecting and defending the U.S. Constitution.

And that leaves only one remaining issue:

Whether a court someday decides that Trump incited violence or engaged in First Amendment-protected political speech, the question is not whether his remarks were lawful, attorney Joseph M. Sellers said, but “whether he conspired with others to seek to prevent Congress from completing the ratification of the electoral process, and inciting a riot to take over the Capitol was a means to that end.”

“This lawsuit is very simple. It relies on this protection which every member of Congress is entitled to, that they be free of threats of violence and intimidation and free that day to certify results of the election of President Biden and Vice President Harris,” Sellers said.

And this happened:

Trump and Giuliani exhorted listeners at a rally near the White House before the Jan. 6 insurrection, with Giuliani calling for “trial by combat” and Trump saying he would join marchers down Pennsylvania Avenue to give lawmakers “the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.” Trump had repeatedly promoted the rally, posting on Twitter that it “will be wild!”

He heaped praise on participants afterward, tweeting: “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

They’re in trouble:

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for any plaintiffs who join it and were harmed in the assault, as well as attorneys’ fees, meaning a guilty verdict could represent not only a judicial judgment against Trump’s actions but also a financial sting.

Trump is being sued solely in his personal capacity. There was only one thing to do now:

Rudy Giuliani is “not currently representing” former President Trump “in any legal matters,” senior Trump adviser Jason Miller told CNN and Reuters on Tuesday.

Trump’s dumping of the former New York City mayor, who emerged as the talking head of Trump’s unsuccessful attempt at overturning the presidential election results, comes on the heels of the former president signaling his frustration with his longtime ally following the House’s vote last month to impeach Trump for the second time.

A person familiar with the matter previously told CNN that Trump instructed his staff to stop paying Giuliani’s legal fees. CNN noted that aides were unclear if the former president was serious about his request to financially cut off Giuliani.

No one ever seems to know if he’s being serious or just throwing a hissy-fit. But really, Rudy has been nothing but trouble:

Trump’s decision to cut ties with Giuliani on legal matters comes amid the former president and his now-former personal lawyer facing a slew of legal battles.

Earlier Tuesday, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) filed a civil lawsuit alleging Trump and Giuliani violated an anti-KKK law in conspiring to incite the Capitol insurrection.

Last week, Georgia officials launched two investigations into Trump over his attempts to bully election officials into overturning the battleground state’s election results.

Additionally, Trump faces a criminal investigation in New York, with the Manhattan district attorney’s office is proving whether the Trump Organization violated state laws.

On Sunday, CNN also reported that Trump privately expressed his concern about the possibility of facing charges for inciting his supporters who breached the Capitol last month.

“He’s worried about it,” one adviser close to Trump told CNN.

So he fired Rudy? Zombies really are strange. But why is this one still around? We do have a living president in office now. Chris Cillizza notes that this one spent the day being rather normal:

President Joe Biden took part in his first town hall since entering the White House last month, answering questions from CNN’s Anderson Cooper (and audience members) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin…

Perhaps the biggest contrast between Biden and the man he replaced in office is empathy. Former President Donald Trump had none; Biden is all empathy, wearing his heart on his sleeve. The town hall format played to Biden’s strength in that regard — and provided a stark reminder of just how radically different Trump was from anyone who came before (or after) him in the office. Biden told several questioners to talk to him after the town hall in order to help deal with their specific problems. And in one striking exchange, a mother with her 8-year-old daughter stood up and asked Biden what to tell kids who are worried about getting Covid and dying. “Don’t be scared, honey,” the President told the little girl, speaking directly to her as he told her that kids don’t usually get the coronavirus, and when they do, they very rarely pass it on. It was a grace note – and one that would have been unimaginable during Trump’s presidency…

Biden did his best not to mention the former President by name. (Biden’s preferred way to name Trump without naming him was to refer to the 45th President as “the former guy.”) When asked direct questions about Trump – on his impeachment, on his meddling in the Justice Department – Biden was even more blunt about his views on the man he beat last November. “I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump,” Biden said at one point. At another, he said this: “For four years, all that’s been in the news is Trump. The next four years, I want to make sure all the news is the American people.” (That line drew applause from the socially distanced audience.) What Biden clearly believes is that the best way to deal with Trump is to rob him of the media oxygen he so badly craves. The less Biden talks about Trump, the less attention Trump gets. It’s a solid theory – especially when you consider that Trump has been de-platformed from Twitter and Facebook.

And that may be the only way to kill this zombie. And that must be done. He really is coming for your brains.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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