Special-dom on Trial
Delusion doesn’t make one innocent. Rather, delusion can make one dangerous.
America is breathing.
This past week two events dovetailed, and America let out a sigh of relief.
On September 22, the first event came in the form of a 20-page opinion from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (Atlanta), written by two (of three) Appellate judges appointed by former President Trump.
The second event were the statements by ‘Special Master. (SM) Raymond Dearie, selected by Trump lawyers and appointed by Judge Alissa Cannon, also appointed by Trump, regarding the questions raised by the legal team as to the property inventory in a civil suit filed by Trump following the “seizure” of government documents, August 8 from his Mar-a-Lago residence.
Responding to claims from Trump lawyers that the FBI had planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago, Dearie asked, “Is there a real dispute about the property inventory? If so, provide to me evidence by September 30.”
So ended sixteen days of delay — perhaps more — in adjudicating this suit.
On September 23, Dearie went further stating that because 100 documents of the alleged 11,000 stored at Mar-a-Lago (perhaps more, elsewhere) had been marked “classified,” he would not open them, and that Trump’s team would provide to him evidence that the documents were either classified or not.
“This is a civil suit… you are not carrying your burden of truth that these docs are declassified as you and your client have claimed… I am not returning these docs (classified ‘Top Secret’) to a citizen… Provide evidence… that’s the end of it.”
The 11th Circuit opinion was another set-back to the delaying tactics of the Trump legal team, for the opinion rebuked the decision of District Court Judge Cannon in stopping the investigation by the FBI as to illegality of removing government property to Mar-a-Lago. Despite Cannon’s claim that the DNI assessment of intelligence risk and the FBI investigation of criminal intent could be separated, the Appellate judges overruled Cannon and let the FBI proceed with their investigation.
So far, the Trump team has not filed any appeal to the US Supreme Court of the Appellate Judges’ decision.
America is left dangling over two related questions: first, has Trump’s legal exposure increased; and second, has Trump been successful in running out the clock, delaying and defusing the import of removing government property — just a ‘storage issue’?
Both events seem to respond, ‘America can’t wait.’
Consider the counter-signifier to these events, that one can’t indict Trump, so don’t bother America with Trump. One can’t find evidence of ‘intent,’ so look to the future — life after Trump. (1)
The danger in this line of reasoning, chasing after intent and turning up with delusion, is that ‘delusion’ presumes one is ‘innocent,’ yet dangerous.
The ‘counter-counter argument’ is to distinguish ‘seeking innocence’ from seeking proof of wrongdoing. Remind oneself, not with the question ‘why are we here,’ but with the perspective, ‘how did we get here.’
Former House Speaker and Republican Caucus leader Newt Gingrich helped bring about the demise of ‘government,’ as the primary goal of ‘governing.’ (2) The leader’s mantra was don’t work for, work against.
Consider that Trump has weaponized successfully this partisan-hood within the Republican Party. It got him elected in 2016; it fuels his denial of his loss in 2020; it secures his ‘right’ to run again in 2024 to restore what was his. (3)
For Trump, what does exist?
What exists is the world of a paranoid narcissist, a malevolent external world… ‘people out to get me’…a ‘political hit job’… ‘a hoax’… ‘fake news.’ Like forgiving parents, we find the behavior oddly self-abasing. ‘Reality,’ we presume is large enough to provide space for this deviancy. The ‘world is unchanged:’ ‘He’ll grow up.’
Or so we reason. Worse, some of us, the self-appointed ‘adults in the room,’ participate in the delusion, reasoning that we are protecting the world from his excesses.
What some of us are learning, is that not Trump but our belief structures are taking the hits. Looking backwards, we hear ourselves saying things like, “I underestimated (the danger of) what Trump can do.”
Trump may not be indicted, quite like we hoped he would. But remember that in the end Trump can’t afford to pay for the damage he caused because there is no price on trust. And where there is no price, doesn’t make the damage less hurtful.
Loyalty, like delusion, has its limits.
1-Democracy piece, NYTimes Opinion, Sept. 18
2-Peter Smith Op Ed.