November 10, 2019

A fiction writing workshop I once attended had a tip for being able to write effective antagonists: everyone is the hero of their own story. Villains are usually not cartoonish, moustache-twirling Dr. Evils with no other motivation than bad acts. They have to believe that their fight is right, or at least righteous, to their ends.

I think about that now in political terms. Rudy Giuliani (who really couldn't be more buffoonish--or self-indicting--if he tried, all he's missing is a moustache to twirl) famously ranted as this Ukraine extortion plan came to light that when all was said and done, he would be viewed as a hero. I'm sure he believes that with all his heart. I'm also sure that the White House staffer who anonymously wrote "A Warning" also thinks he or she is heroic for coming forward with information that has been out in the public record since "Fire and Fury." Clearly, Donald Trump thinks he's a hero in his own mind too. And sadly, there are all too many members of the media willing to assist them in this portrayal.

But what makes for more compelling fiction creates misleading reality. Heroism requires putting yourself subservient to the greater good. Name one thing any of those people have done that could remotely be characterized as that. Even "Anonymous" has burrowed him/herself at the White House and offered little information. If he/she really believed that Donald Trump could not fulfill the demands of the office to the point where he's endangering all of us (for which ** I ** could make a pretty damn compelling argument, again, just using the information out in the public sphere), he/she could have come out publicly and yelled this out literally years ago. They claimed to be part of a cadre of "adults" controlling/distracting Trump from his worst impulses in that NYT op-ed, but now admit in "A Warning" that they've lost that control. How many more people have to be harmed for that anonymity? Why haven't they come forward to completely torpedo Trump's re-election chances? Because Anonymous is no hero.

I have around me a decidedly non-scientific focus group of friends and family along the political spectrum and varying degrees of political engagement, and I can tell you that few truly understand what's going on beyond a tribal level of trust/distrust for the political parties. Much I blame on the media, which get hung up on the least important thing or a single word/phrase, and miss the larger context. Would that Trump voter still support him if rather than continually talking about the whistleblower and throwing around the term "quid pro quo" around, the media just asked Republicans if they can support Donald Trump extorting and bribing a foreign country for his personal gain? I used that question with some conservative and independent friends and every single one of them said that they would be shocked if that was what Trump did. I pointed out the multitude of times that's exactly what he did--from demanding that Pence stay at his Irish golf resort across the island from his meeting (so that we taxpayers had to put money directly in his pocket) to having his Ambassador to the UN lay out a clear extortion scheme to Ukrainian President (and not a member of the UN) Zelensky, and their jaws collectively dropped. That I could easily contextualize this so that they understand what's happening and the media to date hasn't shows you how much our Fourth Estate has failed democracy.

ABC's "This Week" — Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Reps. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. Panel: Mary Bruce, Matthew Dowd, Asma Khalid and Jonathan Swan.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn. Panel: Yamiche Alcindor, Hugh Hewitt, David Ignatius and Hallie Jackson.

CBS' "Face the Nation" — White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien; Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.; Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. Panel: Margaret Talev, Jeffrey Goldberg, Stephen Hayes and Antjuan Seawright.

CNN's "State of the Union" — Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. Panel: Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.), Linda Chavez, David Urban and Karine Jean-Pierre.

CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" — Niall Ferguson, Richard Haas and Rana Foroohar; Nate Cohn; Constanze Stelzenmϋller.

CNN's "Reliable Sources" — Manu Raju, Melanie Zanona and Addy Baird; Jess McIntosh, Tara Dowdell and Max Boot; Anthony Scaramucci; Pastor Angela Denker.

"Fox News Sunday" — Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., and Will Hurd, R-Texas. Panel: Karl Rove, Donna Edwards, Josh Holmes and Mo Elleithee.

Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.); Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.); and pollster Mark Penn.

So what's catching your eye this morning?

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