Thursday, August 23, 2018

With all these felons in Trump entourage, it’s ESPN that’s at fault

Years from now, when we look back at this Age of Trump and try to comprehend just how nonsensical the era was, this week has the potential to be the height of ludicrousness.
TRUMP: Evading reality?

Particularly Tuesday, which was the day that former campaign chair Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight criminal offenses, while former attorney Michael Cohen avoided going to trial by pleading guilty to several offenses. Many political observers are going so far as to call it the “worst day” of the Trump presidency.

SO JUST HOW does Donald J. Trump respond to all of this?

He ventures down to West Virginia to speak to the partisans, and engages in a rant against ESPN – the cable television sports channel that winds up accounting for a significant part of one’s cable TV bill.

Specifically, Trump complained about how the channel – which these days has the Monday Night Football national broadcast rights – is refusing to include the playing of the National Anthem as part of the game broadcast. It is ESPN’s way of not drawing attention to those football players who try to protest their causes during the anthem’s playing.

They’re taking the same attitude we used to take back in my police reporter days when it came to writing about crime involving street gangs – we tried to pretend they didn’t exist on the grounds we didn’t want to glorify the gangbangers.
MANAFORT: Eight convictions

TRUMP APPARENTLY WANTS the anthem played, and every protesting football player caught on camera. Perhaps he thinks there can be a “hit list” of sorts against athletes who try to express their thoughts on issues.

ESPN’s attempt to downplay the issue bothers Trump because it is the very phony issue that he’s been trying to play up – largely because it gives him something to complain about rather than have to acknowledge the serious issues confronting our society.

Such as the growing number of Trump-types who are finding themselves in legal trouble and, particularly in the case of Cohen, could find themselves having to testify someday against the “Big” man himself – the one whose many critics deride him as “the big Cheetoh” on account of that ridiculous fake tan he has.
COHEN: Pleaded guilty to avoid trial

Complaining about ESPN and professional football is so much easier than having to acknowledge all the things going wrong on his watch.

NOW I KNOW some are going to want to point out that Manafort actually was not found guilty of many of the charges he faced, as though that works in his favor. The reality, however, is that all it takes is one “guilty” verdict for the “convict” label to apply. I also heard one legal observer explain that in cases where there is potential for a “hung” jury on certain counts, juries can be persuaded to go for the guilty verdict on some issues, and let everything else up in the air.

Which for the prosecutors who are trying to build up a conviction rate, that works well enough. Manafort is going to go into the history books as a corrupt government official just as much as any other political person who wound up being found guilty.

But Trump? He’ll continue to evade responsibility, acting as though it’s irrelevant.

Which will be made possible by the number of Trump supporters determined to believe in him – largely because they like being able to offend the sensibilities of those people who back in 2016 cast their ballots for having a responsible government in place.

HECK, IN WEST Virginia on Tuesday, there were Trump backers engaging in a “Lock her up!” chant – bringing back memories of the ’16 campaign rhetoric of how a “President Trump” would have opponent Hillary Clinton incarcerated.
Trump thinks the problem lies here

Rather ironic they’d chant that on a day when it’s the Trump allies who literally face a stint in the federal Bureau of Prisons.

But I’m also sure the people making the chants don’t have a clue what it was that Manafort or Cohen have done. They probably think that such details are “Boring!” and that paying attention to them is what is wrong with our government these days.

I understand that some people are just lacking in interest, and that they have a right to be that way. But the fact we have such people, and enough of them to elect a chief executive, IS the reason we are in this Age of Trump, and why it will get even uglier before it’s all over.


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