Why Trumpgate is Worse Than Watergate
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
The wheels of Government grind immeasurably slow but everyone is accountable to the law. Decisions are made after serious review. There are lines of responsibility both up and down a bureaucratic structure. There are consequences for everything that one does. No individual is above the system and those working in the system are dedicated to the system above the individual. This is why there are elections, confirmation processes, oversight, and checks and balances. This is how a democracy functions. Authoritarian personalities do not succeed in operating in this system; thus it is clearer every day that Donald Trump accepts none of these axioms.
It is likely that throughout his entire life Donald Trump has never been responsible for his actions to anyone but himself. He answered to no one and his decisions were challenged by no one. Anyone who disagreed with anything he wanted to do either resigned, said nothing, or was removed. Any person who challenged Trump was fired and Trump was never accountable for his behavior to anyone. Donald Trump never ran a public corporation nor worked in government, nor in any bureaucracy. He made mistakes, lost lots of money, and never needed to explain his actions to anyone. This is why his Presidency is imploding.
Comey needed to go. His testimony last week was absolutely embarrassing and it is becoming clearer than ever that his conduct at best was not consistent with being the chief law enforcement officer in the country. Why he acted the way he did during the campaign with respect to Hillary Clinton and the tapes, is a mystery. Comey knew that both the tape controversy as well as Trump and his team’s questionable contacts and conduct with the Russians smelled. (Perhaps last week’s testimony and subsequent recanting with respect to Huma Abedin and the tapes indicated just how stressed out he was about these two investigations.) As is becoming clearer by the day, Trump also knew that the Russia story would eventually lead at least to Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Paige, Jeff Sessions, his transition office, perhaps Jared, and in all likelihood himself.
In Donald Trump’s world he is above the rules and answer to no one. When someone disagrees or challenges him, he/she is removed. When someone no longer is willing to worship at his trough, he is removed. Authoritarian rulers do not abide critics; democracies do. Liars are punished and there are consequences and accountability for actions.
It is beginning to appear that Trump will not last. It will take time and even a 24/7 media cycle cannot make it move any faster. Eventually partisanship will be overtaken by patriotism. It may be this summer or in the fall or not until after the 2018 election but it will happen. Hopefully the nation will not face too many national security crises, as projecting how the President might act is scary and unpredictable.
Nixon knew the law and thought he could beat the system and he would never get caught. Trump does not accept the fact that the law is above him, because nothing and no one has ever been above him. There has never been anyone whom he could not remove or eliminate. Nixon understood the system; Trump denies it.