The ignominious collapse of the Democratic claims and insinuations that Donald Trump was improperly connected to the Russian government has de-escalated the Democrats’ campaign against the president – from a frenzied assault seeking impeachment and removal for a cause to be named later, to guerrilla war. Russian collusion has vanished down the same deep hole as the charges of sexism, racism, and a will to autocracy.
It is widely believed that press reports in the New York Times and other outlets accustomed to receiving and amplifying anti-Trump leaks from within the administration (a thoroughly illegal process), as well as an aside of Democratic representative Adam Schiff of California, to the effect that the House Intelligence Committee would want to know about the surveillance of the Republican campaign, confirm that there was such surveillance. Most intelligence-agency directors in the latter Obama era have volunteered that there was no evidence of such collaboration.
The impact of Trump’s famous tweet accusing Mr. Obama of tapping his telephones has been substantially muted, as the Democrats have assisted in repurposing the whole matter from panting like the Hound of the Baskervilles after evidence of Trump-Putin collusion to detached curiosity about intelligence practices, as if these were conducted without, as has been claimed, the knowledge of President Obama and his entourage. If that were entirely clear, the Obama camp would probably be even more unctuous than it has been.
This has left the relays of performing and talking airheads on the Sunday news-comment shows and in sound bites on the Democratic news networks (all except Fox) with the task of executing a 180-degree turn in a narrow space. Some have managed it better than others. The incessant mudslinging at the Trump family and entourage seems also to be subsiding, and even Hillary Clinton reproached the African-American self-professed comic who pitifully tried to give a lewd spin to a photograph of Kellyanne Conway sitting with her feet on a sofa in the Oval Office as she sent an e-mail on her cellphone.
The New York Times’ weekly effort to festoon the Never Trump post-trauma effort with recondite historical conjurations has sputtered from David Brooks’s contortion of the Enlightenment last week to Timothy Egan’s comparison of Steve Bannon with Thomas Cromwell this week. Egan likened Bannon to Cromwell, who facilitated Henry VIII’s apostasy from the Roman Catholic Church and martyrization of Thomas More and John Fisher. (Cromwell’s undoing came when he championed the marriage of the unwed king – he had beheaded his wife, Anne Boleyn, on a false charge of adultery – to Anne of Cleves. Cromwell was attainted of treason and decapitated, as Anne Boleyn had been.)
What Mr. Egan finds in this famous vignette of 16th-century British history of any relevance to the Trump administration is left to challenge the imagination of persevering readers. The best I could come up with was that Mr. Egan wants us to believe that Mr. Trump is a Henrician personality, a capricious and tempestuous tyrant potentially also of 400 …read more