January 9, 2021

Fealty to a Fool

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

No, I do not suggest that everyone who ever voted for Donald Trump, or once found Donald Trump appealing, were all demonstrating fealty to a fool.

However, those who would still vote for him, and those who might even rationalize that there is much redeeming or admirable about him after he urged the rioters to come and egged them on when riot and insurrection were in the air are showing fealty to a fool. Donald J. Trump, after all is said and done, has demonstrated tragically and dramatically that he is, indeed, a fool—a fool of the first order.

And, to be clear, every Republican member of the House of Representatives and Senate who stood on the floor of their respective chambers and objected to the certification of votes cast by duly elected electors, and that were certified by the nation’s duly elected Republican and Democratic Governors, were also showing fealty to a fool. They did so out of pure political chauvinism or rank stupidity.

To clear up a misconception some may harbor, Congress’s right to object to electors was enabled by the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which was enacted as a remedy should any State ever again send competing electors to vote for a presidential candidate, which in fact, some States did in 1876. The Electoral Count Act of 1887 was never intended, not ever, as a final congressional filter for approving or rejecting duly elected electors’ votes from any state.

So, concerning those Republican Representatives and Senators who, in service to Donald Trump, sanctimoniously objected to recognizing the votes of duly elected electors, they are themselves fools as well. They turned the nation’s bicameral legislature into a theater of the absurd. And chief among these absurdists Senators Hawley of Missouri and Cruz of Texas, primping for delusional fantasies of their own future Presidential moments, are also fools and, indeed, fools of high and dangerous order.

The pitiful and pitiable hosanna chorus of cable-news commentators and social-media trolls and addicts who still support Trump, well, they too are paying fealty to a fool, and no doubt, many of their followers are as well.

Those who still embrace Trump and desperately grasp for some equivalency between what happened at the nation’s Capitol last Wednesday and the arson and looting that broke out in American cities in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing are also showing fealty to a fool. There are critical differences between the two phenomena. First and foremost, the urban disorders earlier this year were terrible criminal sideshows that slandered truly commendable, historic, spontaneous, and massive outpourings of peaceful protest.

 In many cities last year, public officials did fail to deal effectively with severe disorders during overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations. That represented failure by local, and in some instances, country and state government. However, the rioters in those urban disorders were not rioting at the encouragement and invitation of local public officials. That is in no way comparable to an insurrection promoted and encouraged by the President of the United States. Those who grasp for some equivalency between those disorders and the fiasco at the Capitol this week, as many cable news bloviators, social media trolls, and those who are willing consumers of their messages are doing, are merely trying to pivot attention away from the chaos in Washington.

The mob the President encouraged to come gathered near the White House and listened to the President of the United States harangue and promise to “fight like hell,” and to march on the Capitol with them. And then there was child-Trump, Don junior, urging the protestors to “show some fight,” and, he cajoled, “to those Republicans, many of which (sic) may be voting on things in the coming hours: You have an opportunity today. You can be a hero, or you can be a zero. And the choice is yours. But we are all watching. The whole world is watching, folks. Choose wisely.” The crowd listened to Presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani urge them to engage in “trial by combat.” And so, the angry, pumped-up mob marched to the nation’s Capitol sans, of course, the President, Rudy Giuliani, Don junior, and the rest of the Trump Katzenjammer kids, who retired to watch on television the entire spectacle they had initiated.

When he spoke, the President threw in an obligatory reference to “peaceful” in his seventy-minute awful harangue. After all, he is always a master of inserting a nod to plausible deniability into his inflammatory rhetoric. Still, an army of lawyers, and certainly not his favorite consigliere, Rudy Giuliani, cannot distance the President from the insurrection last Wednesday. At best, a United States President was publicly and staunchly sympathetic to insurrectionists, and at worst, he was their enabler and leader.

They were a sorrowful group, those insurrectionist marauders who stormed the Capitol, and who the President had egged on. One was caught protesting on camera that they had no choice but to take matters into their own hands because even the Supreme Court wouldn’t help them. One couldn’t help comparing this mob logic to the painfully-patient, centuries-long struggle of America’s civil rights crusaders who were jailed, beaten, and lynched, as they marched in a thoroughly legitimate quest for justice and equality under the law.

Yes, individuals can point to specific policies Donald Trump has pursued with which they concur. I, too, can think of some. But achieving something worthwhile along the way doesn’t confer immunity from judgment for encouraging sedition. Under despots, economies might improve, autobahns might be built, trains might run on time, unemployment might lessen, and armed forces might grow and modernize. However, none of that matters if the head-of-state is divisive, misguided, demagogic, one who embraces autocrats and insurrectionists, a chronic liar, and a failed leader in a time of crisis.

Five who were present at the protest are now dead. Three apparently had heart attacks. One, a female protester, was shot during the melee after climbing through a window in the Capitol. Another, a Capitol policeman, died after a rioter hit him in the head with a fire extinguisher. It was a dreadful day.

******

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26 responses to “Fealty to a Fool”

  1. Robert borns says:

    As usual a beautifully composed essay with points that could win a debate that was maybe your best yet. But as the late sportscaster bill stern used to say, now for the rest of the story. Your title is incomplete. It should say fealty to fools. When the most powerful democrat in the country tears up trumps state of the union speech in full view of all Americans on tv that is a fool encouraging trouble. When congressman swallwell says on TV that he has proof that trump is a Russian pawn and he doesn’t that is a fool. When swallwell is a member of a committee that has access to our deepest secrets and he has sex with a Chinese communist spy and Palosi keeps him on the committee that is a fool. When mayors, prosecutors and governors don’t discourage actual criminal acts of mayhem and destruction those are fools. When the media allows what is obvious crooked behavior from the family of the president elect to pass unreported this a group of fools. And on and on and on. Actually we the citizens are the fools for condoning fools to manage our affairs and our destiny. Hal your columns are a joy and stimulating to us many readers. But we would be sheep if we all agreed with your every word.

  2. Perry Green says:

    It is no wonder that Trump cracked in the end. People make
    mistakes and his biggest was thinking he could single highhandedly change the course of Government overreach.
    The capacity of Big Corporations combined with the might of the
    bureaucracy finally did him in.

    Yes he ended in shame, but I still marvel at his courage through
    4 years of endless torture by an unwilling Democrat machine
    to acknowledge his initial win.

    I do not regret my vote for him and I only hope is that
    America will once again acknowledge individualism and
    freedom which is so precious.

    I accept the results of the 2020 election but can never figure
    the overwhelming vote Biden/Harris received. No campaigning , no accomplishments in 47 years in the Senate
    and a family rife with self enrichment.

    Trump was my fourth choice for nomination but still I am
    happy of his many accomplishments that 50 years of Democrat
    leadership had failed on . Not just the Kosovo Peace Accords or the Abraham Treaty but the new attention and direct funding of Negro Colleges and Enterprise Zones in their districts. He is not a failure except to misjudge the power of
    Big Tech,Big Corp, and Big Unions.

    His legacy will tell of his ultimate ranking among former
    Presidents.

  3. Lynda Deuble says:

    Perry, are you kidding? His ‘legacy’? No question about his ‘ranking among former Presidents’. Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Leaving it at that.

    Hal, great blog!

  4. Steve Prover says:

    I found this blog extraordinarily compelling. The comments and descriptions of Trump’s demagoguery and lawlessness cannot be disputed…
    As usual the conservative readers of these essay proffer their virtually meaningless OAN, Newsmax and Fox News talking points in a pathetic effort to detract from the chaos which we have ALL witnessed this past week and the past four years. Thank goodness he will gone in just another few painful days… As we have seen he will not go quietly…or with any shred of dignity..

  5. Patricia Levy says:

    What you saw on Wednesday was a false flag event to make Trump and his followers look bad. From the comments that I am reading here, it looks like it worked. Apparently, it doesn’t bother a lot of people that massive voter fraud won Biden this election and that he and his family are as crooked as hey come. I am not counting Trump out, yet. There is more to this story.

  6. Steve Prover says:

    Patricia Levy: Oy vey!

  7. William Shakespeare says:

    To Steve Prover …
    “Dispute not with her; she is lunatic.”
    —Richard III, Act I, Scene III

  8. Norman Wine says:

    Hal,
    What we witnessed ,the storming of the capital by a mob was one of the saddest days in American history. That was the culmination of the propaganda sodded by the likes of extreme right wingers over the years. They are the ugly white neo- fascists whose racism, anger and hate surfaced. Their symbolic leader is Donald Trump and they feed off each other.I don’t think Trump has an ideology, he’ll exploit whoever he thinks will support his nefarious ends.

  9. sherry schor says:

    Your essay today was and is one of the best you have written.
    Sherry Schor

  10. sdjg says:

    Hal – to call Trump a fool, which implies a silly, harmless person, severely minimizes the danger this man poses to our country. Dr. Lance Dodes, an acclaimed psychoanalyst (you can google him) has stated last week on national television that in his opinion, Trump is a delusional psychopath who views himself as a God, and his followers as worshipers. Hell – it is clear that his followers, wrapped in his cloak of conspiracy theories and untruths view him as a God, and themselves as worshipers. This comports with the cult theory that has been obvious for years. To the extent this Manchurian fantasy collides with reality, Trump becomes more desperate to maintain it – and he will obviously go to any lengths to do so.

    Trump is interested in one thing – remaining at the apex of power. His intent in inciting this mob was to stop the ballot counting which ultimately gave Biden his true place as President-Elect. Trump is fully responsible for the violence last week, as is every Senator, House member and television newscaster who enabled him – who perpetuated his stolen election fantasy to the public – and frankly as are every Republican senator and House member who voted to acquit him of impeachment charges last year. Our nightmare could have ended then and there, but instead, it has been allowed to fester and grow.

    This is not the work of a fool. This is the work of a supremely dangerous and deluded man, along with everyone who supported him and continues to support him. He has made his intent transparent from Day 1 of his Administration. This is a fascist demagogue who has nurtured and has now activated a neo-nazi movement from the darkest most hellish depths of our country. It will take decades to repair the damage that Trump has wrought. He is toxic. He is poison. He has sown chaos and fear every day of his Administration and that doesn’t scratch the surface of the damage he has done to our institutions, to our foreign policy, to our national security, to the families of the 370,000 lives lost to the horrific coronavirus, and to the planet. Biden and Harris will have a monumental task in healing our country. Godspeed to them, to the new DOJ and to the Southern District of New York.

  11. Irwin Slonin says:

    Patricia Levy: Please, once and for all, put in black and white, the evidence and support of your claim that “massive voter fraud won Biden this election.” I’ve heard that claim from so many supporters, yet that is all I keep hearing – the claim. Nobody ever actually lays out the evidence. I supported that Trump should have his day in court to argue the results of the election, and he had his opportunity. If there was evidence to support the claim of massive voter fraud, why did they fail to produce it? Can you answer that question? Could it be because there isn’t actually any evidence? I think Mitt Romney said it best, “The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth.”

  12. Ray Galante says:

    Turn the page. This psychopath is the worst, most dangerous fraud to occupy the noble Presidency. Let’s indict him, sanction him, ban him from the Republican Party, whatever works. Be gone, destroyer of democracy! He’s humiliated all Republicans.

  13. BLB says:

    I agree with Robert Borns and Perry Green.
    To document all the voter fraud would take months, which wasn’t in the cards. My regret is that Trump and his campaign did not focus more positively on the GA runoffs in order to capture at least one stronghold of power for the next 2-4 years. Those Dem senators are two of the worst that I have seen run for public office.
    One last point…it was not that we were equating the summer riots with the Capitol riot, it was the NON-COVERAGE by the mainstream media of the summer riots that is being criticized. (Along with the rest of the non-coverage of the news by the Media for the last four years!)

  14. Pat Hubbard says:

    Bravo to Hal and sdjg (whoever that be)!!

  15. Robert J. Fraiman says:

    Hal, thank you for stating so eloquently the depravity of Donald Trump. I believe in free speech but the comments of some of your readers, who supposedly are not “dese, dems and dose” people,
    is appalling. One who blamed the media for their negative comments. another who stated Trump displayed courage and
    another who supported the erroneous fact that there was massive voter fraud that enabled Joe Biden to win the election. After witnessing the events Wednesday how a few of your readers can still support him is mind boggling.

  16. Steve says:

    For Donald Trump there is NO LAW beyond that of Donald Trump. Any who wonder about what Trump’s law(lessness) leads to should read Mary Trump’s book, “Too much and never enough”, which describes him as “the world’s most dangerous man”. She is Trump’s niece and, as a trained psychologist, arguably has more accurate insights into his character than anyone else. His sycophants should read the book if they are at all interested in continuation of America as a democracy. Hard to believe that anyone observing him and how he operates can still support him regardless that he might have supported a few things they wanted to have accomplished. And those who might have observed how he treats (to the point of destruction) anyone who disagrees with him, or declines to do his bidding, in spite of how lawless the request, cannot possibly believe in the rule of law, or in our constitution. Sadly, what lessons has he been teaching our kids about social behavior especially when working out disagreements? In any case he should never be allowed in the White House again.

  17. Charles Anderson says:

    Very insightful essay Hal, sadly wasted on your Trump supporting readers, they have swallowed the ‘big lie’ just as all ideologs do. Folks like Robert, Perry, Patricia & BLB don’t do rationality. You have attempted to be rationally fair regarding events of the last 4 years and here at the end you can clearly see your words are wasted on them.
    For those who have not ‘drunk the Kool Aid’ I suggest reading a recent very cogent essay by Hakeem Jefferson titled ‘Storming The U.S. Capitol Was About Maintaining White Power In America’; very thought provoking.
    Lastly the video of Trump & his minions inside the tent watching events in the Capitol unfold pretty much says it all regarding the base venality of this administration.

  18. Michael Gong says:

    At this point can there be left even the slightest doubt that for this madman it was always about himself and only himself. Steve, Chuck, et al, you’ve already said it for me; so I won’t try to pile on. Hal, another in a long series of brilliant essays. You might consider writing a book. How tragic that this severely damaged person somehow had the power to lure so many into madness. This is again one of those moments when I have to remind myself that for most of our existence we have been primitive hunter gatherers seeking always to eat and avoid being eaten. That state of being was on full display last Wednesday.

  19. Bahram Mobasher says:

    Albert Einstein once said:
    “Two things are infinite- the Universe and the human ignorance. I am not sure about the Universe”.
    Witnessing how some well-educated and privileged people still support Trump, despite all they have seen and experienced over the last week and last four years, makes me to agree with Einstein. There is a long list of achievements by this administration: over 370,000 deaths due to coronavirus (more than anywhere else in the world), a polarized and divided country, economy in shatters, people and children going hungry, racist and anti-Semitic voices becoming louder, the US being alienated from the rest of the world, conspiracy theories replacing objectiveness and logic, and the list goes on. I hope the events of the last week and what we saw on our TVs will help to open up some people’s eyes and minds as where this country is heading. Last Tuesday we witnessed a clear demonstration of democracy in Georgia, only to be followed by the sad events a day later. Results from the elections in Georgia was a demonstration that democracy is alive and that, there are decent people who stood against the bullying and undemocratic behavior of the man who is spending his last days in the White House. It is disturbing to see the comment by a reader who considers these as “the worst elected senators” and yet ignores Trump’s hour-long phone conversation with Georgia’s secretary of state, forcing him to “find more votes” to turn the election. This is what we hear with our ears and see with our eyes. How much more do we need to hear and see to believe what is happening?

    Trump inherited the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. Within four years, he lost them all and much more. As one of the commentators said, he was given a Bugatti and ended up with a lawn mower. Yes, and this is also how he has conducted his business too.

  20. Mike says:

    Rather than extend the debate about Trump, I would encourage people to read Kimberly Strassel’s outstanding article in the WSJ on Thursday. She explains the loss of a legacy caused by the President’s actions.

    I am profoundly saddened and angered by the President’s actions – not just on Wednesday but also his actions which hurt the Republicans in Georgia. And what he did with his comments about Mike Pence was reprehensible.

    After four years of relentless attacks, he cracked. He let his considerable flaws get the best of him. As Karl Rove pointed out, America hates a sore loser. And now we move on.

    And for those who have questioned or challenged those of us who have approved of his accomplishments, my only regret is that this forum doesn’t allow for an avenue to have an honest debate about those accomplishments. They are considerable.

    With the Democrats having complete control, your hatred for Trump may be the least of the problems this country will have. And for those who now want unity and naively believe Biden will “heal” our country, brace yourself; sad to say, the real struggle is just beginning.

  21. susan duman says:

    As your readers have increased I take pleasure in waiting several hours to read the opinions.
    I assume you are always at work on the book that will contain your thoughts and a number of the essays.
    A goal of mine is to stay healthy, buy it, read it, and say to the countless others that I read his blog weekly from it’s inception.

  22. Thomasin Savaiano says:

    Hal, thank you for the clear and informative thoughts.

    We all saw Our American flags ripped down & replaced by flags honoring one man-
    the *exact* very thing this great country – (By and For the People, not for a King) – was literally created to prevent.

    The sight should have been viscerally upsetting on a deep gut level to anyone who believes we’re Americans 1st, before all else.

    That sight alone should have changed the tune, for good, of every supposed “Country-Loving” Senator and Representative who have chosen to turn a blind eye all this time. Which make no mistake, was a choice.

    The essential flaws that made this one man unfit for this job – a job in service to the People – are the root cause of the path that led to January 6th.
    His inability to accept losing, like every other candidate has had the maturity and true love of Country to do – for the Good of the Country – stems from them, as well.
    Due to his highly public life prior to & during the elections, all could see (though some chose not to) he was a candidate clearly incapable of these basic requirements of the office:

    1. He did not possess the understanding that the job is about us, not him.

    2. He makes all his decisions through the prism of what is best for him, not others.

    3. He did not possess the understanding that:
    a. It does indeed matter how a President behaves
    b. Words matter – especially when they come out of the mouth of the President.

    Ignoring the mismatch in qualification of this candidate -was a choice.
    And continually turning a blind eye since then, has allowed a 4 year path of destruction of respect for our Country’s sacred processes and principles – the Peaceful Transfer of Power being the hallmark – and allowed them to be bullied into destruction.
    The result: an attempted violent coup- in the Capitol of the USA.

    Everyone in this country has the ability to see the footage, and so attempting to say this was in any way the “same” as anything seen in modern history is futile.
    No matter what political party the loser was associated with – no response even remotely like this has occurred, nor has been encouraged to.
    There are no “two sides” in this kind of blatant attack on our Country.

    And it was invited in by the President – over the past 2 months spent not on doing the job we hired him to do (there is a pandemic, and several other things, he likely should have been attending to), but rather on spreading falsehoods – continually proven as such in case after case – over and over.

    And on the day of this coup, instead of being in his office, doing his job that we hire him to do – he and his other speakers were out encouraging the crowd he had pulled in by egregious social media use and the plain audacity to just continue to speak lies as truth.

    These are not the actions of someone who serves, loves, and respects the Country – they are actions of one who makes choices only through the prism of themselves.

    The vastly unequal safety preparations onsite show, again, a choice to look the other way while decisions were made through the prism of one man:

    Our entire House, Senate and the VP were all in one place.
    That situation alone requires multiple agencies there and prepared – even if there were not large groups of people coming.
    And in this case, they knew that they were.

    It is beyond the threshold of reason to say they had no idea- our Government watched all the online back and forth – every tweet, every invitation, every word we all saw in public – and also receive information from our agencies that watch groups on the web and dark web.

    That choice of unequal safety preparation showed absolutely no care for Human Life – which we’ve all seen in the footage of overwhelmed officers, attempting to push back a swarm of people inside the building with only plastic shields- and the suffering of an officer as he was crushed in a door.
    They literally made the under-armed and outnumbered Capital Police – cannon fodder.

    All these choices, and the choice to turn a blind eye to them over the years, or to attempt to make Wednesday something “normal” – are not ones made by people who love – or even respect – our Country.

    We are all supposed to be American’s 1st – regardless of political party.
    We were formed under the concept that no country should be run by and for just one man – but by and for the people. And that those chosen to do that, do so for the People, not for themselves.

    After the events of Wednesday, one would hope that those who have lost sight of those precepts these 4 ½ years – would be motivated enough by seeing our American flags replaced while the Capitol was destroyed and our lawmakers in peril – to break the spell, and get back to doing their jobs for the Country, and for us – not one man.

  23. BARBARA WEISBERG says:

    BW
    A BRILLIANT ESSAY

  24. egc says:

    Enough of Trump bashing, even though he did several good things for our country. None of which these essays have concentrated on. But it is now over due to concentrate on the future of America. What do you foresee in the Biden/Kamala regime. Perhaps your answer will show that sometimes we must choose the lesser of two evils.

  25. marilyn miller says:

    The responses following Hal’s essays vary on many levels, which speaks to the heart of our democracy. We can agree to disagree, in debating the many issues our country has, and is dealing with, least of which is a pandemic, with more than 350,000 US deaths. To that end, this is not about Republican/Democratic policies, agendas or political platforms. This is ALL about a malignant narcissist”demagogue, in sighting, invoking and orchestrating an attack of our citadel. There has been, and undoubtedly will remain, a segment of our society supporting and encouraging acts of prejudice, violence and domestic terrorism. The horror is, a sitting president has given voice and validation to this segment, which was on full display January 6th. Listening to Trumps speech, as he addressed the crowd of his proud supporters, was frighteningly reprehensible. Respective of one’s political views, we as a nation must never forget what this type of leadership has, and can do to a free democratic society. For the sake of our children and theirs, we must NEVER allow it to happen again.

  26. Sherry Salzman says:

    Great essay. I have so many friends that are still with Trump that I feel they are blind to reality.
    Your words will help but I try not to discuss politics with them. For some, it can be a loss of friendship!

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