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Trump’s Stone-Cold Sleaze

He may be a crook, but you have to hand it to him: Roger Stone has groovy glasses (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

It’s funny how news like Trump commuting Roger Stone’s sentence would normally be front-page, above-the-fold, banner headline stuff. But now, it’s just another day in the unraveling of the Trump administration.

You can think that the Russia investigation was a put-up job if you like — that’s fine. But there’s no denying that Roger Stone flagrantly lied to Congress about it, and threatened a witness — all to protect Donald Trump. And now Trump has demonstrated that if you lie to protect him, and get caught doing it, you won’t have to pay a price.

Roger Stone is a crook, and he won’t have to do a day in jail because Donald Trump believes those who serve him are above the law. Trump is fighting a steep uphill battle for re-election this fall, with GOP control of the Senate at risk. And he goes and does this. Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, which was a disgusting act, but at least he had the sense to do that on the way out the door, after the 2000 election, when it couldn’t hurt the party.

It is going to take a long time to get the Trump stink off the GOP. And here’s the thing: if Trump had done great things for the country, maybe, just maybe, things like this would be tolerable. Not excusable, not remotely excusable, but tolerable. But he didn’t. I don’t know that there has ever been a time in my life when the Democratic Party’s agenda has been more dangerous to core American values than now. And yet, look at Trump. This shambling, incompetent, self-dealing mess of a man is the only thing between us and the government falling into the hands of people who are going to do deep damage to the country.

The election will not turn on Roger Stone, who will be forgotten by next week, given the gravity and intensity of the news cycle. But it’s just one more damn thing that reveals Trump for who he is. Destiny gave Trump an opportunity to do important things, but he blew it, hard, as blowhards will.

I dread what the Biden Administration is going to do. I honestly do. The Democratic Party post-2016 is a different beast, and I expect aggressive wokeness to ride high and hard in the saddle. The only consolation for conservatives will be not having to be embarrassed and ashamed almost every day by the Republican president. It didn’t have to be like this. Or maybe it did, character being destiny and all.

Another consolation from what looks like an inevitable Trump loss: it will give the GOP four years to prepare for the 2024 election, which really will be a realignment contest. Either it will establish the progressive Democrats (as opposed to Clinton Democrats) as the dominant party for the foreseeable future, or it will mark the emergence of a muscular Republican populism — but this time, led by someone who is not corrupt, and who knows what he’s doing.

UPDATE: I should say that a lot can happen between now and November. The Democratic Party leaders clearly cannot bring themselves to criticize the woke mobs. Who knows what those mobs will do between now and Election Day? If Trump pulls this out because more Americans fear the Democrats than loathe Trump, that will be quite the thing, to put it mildly. But the next four years will be unbearable.

UPDATE.2: Reader Lawbooks10:

Trump is toast. The GOP will be wiped out this November. The results will certainly be unpleasant for conservatives, but I think the GOP has to be wiped out. What’s the point of a conservative party that appoints judges who issue rulings like Bostock? What’s the point of a Conservative party that won’t speak out forcefully against the mobs and toppling of statues of the founders of this nation, that won’t speak out against the chatter about destroying Mount Rushmore, that won’t say anything about the cancel culture and the chilling of free speech, about a media that pillories anonymous everyday citizens? The Republican Party does not represent the interests of their voters or fight for the priorities of their voters. The Republican Party is just a vehicle to implement neoliberal economic policies cooked up by the Heritage Foundation. That’s all the professional Republican class cares about. They certainly have no intention of defending the economic interests of blue collar workers, or the right of religious people to freely exercise their religion. I just don’t see the point of supporting this party anymore. I live in Texas. Trump currently trails Biden. I intend to stay home in November and not vote. I suspect many others will do the same.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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