The more out of control the Trump Administration gets, the more I hear echoes of the Nixon days. Like Donald Trump in 2020, Richard Nixon in 1972 was running for a second term. Like Trump, Nixon had cast himself as the “law and order” candidate. Like Trump, Nixon was willing to go to almost any length to get re-elected.
Nixon’s fixers lured Democratic Party officials onto a boat in Miami so they could be photographed in compromising positions with prostitutes; they kidnapped certain anti-war organizers and stashed them in Mexico so they couldn’t disrupt the Republican National Convention; they even kidnapped Martha Mitchell (wife of Attorney General John Mitchell, who became Nixon’s campaign manager), when she wouldn’t stop talking to the press; and, of course, they did the Watergate burglary.
It worked: Nixon, the evil genius, was re-elected by a 520-17 landslide in the Electoral College, taking every state but Massachusetts. That doesn’t say much for the perspicacity of the general public, but in November we’ll find out whether we’ve smartened up at all over the last 48 years. Here’s hoping we have, though there’s not much evidence so far. Trump may be just as ruthless as Nixon was, even if his luck seems to be running the other way.
Not that’s he’s been a slouch on the “law and order” front. Last week he kicked his re-election campaign into high gear with something called Operation Legend, saying he had “no choice” but to send hundreds of federal officers to Chicago, Albuquerque and Kansas City — all Democratic-run cities. Never mind that the mayor of Portland, Oregon, where his storm troopers have already been in action, doesn’t want them and says their secret-police-style tactics have made ongoing protests worse. Never mind that the mayor of Chicago said, “We welcome actual partnership, but we do not welcome dictatorship.” And never mind that the mayor of New York said, “I believe what the president is doing is unconstitutional.”
With his poll numbers dropping, we can only expect the antics involving street crime to increase as Nov. 3 approaches. But don’t expect any similar crusade against white-collar crime — that’s a Trump family specialty.
In the 1970s, Trump and his father were nailed for housing discrimination — ironically, by Nixon’s Justice Department. Then Trump created his phony charity and his bogus university, both of which were ended by the courts. He avoided charges only by paying millions of dollars to settle those cases.
He was directly involved in the illegal porn-star adultery payoffs, which landed his personal lawyer in prison. But it seems that sitting presidents can’t be indicted.
He obstructed justice in the investigation of possible 2016 election collusion with Russia, but Special Counsel Robert Mueller declined to say his actions were criminal, and the Republican-controlled Senate can see no evil on their side of the aisle.
He used taxpayer-funded military aid to pressure a foreign government to boost his re-election chances by finding dirt on Joe Biden.
And now he has been illegally flogging Goya food products — while sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, in what may be the tackiest presidential moment of all time — because the CEO of Goya is a Trump supporter.
Still, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that none of this will work, and he will not be re-elected.
But what do I know? I had Clinton winning in 2016.
Reach Glenn Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org.