Falwell, Putin, Bannon & All the President's Hucksters
Donald Trump has always surrounded himself with scoundrels, and eight of his senior staff members are either under indictment or have been convicted of crimes [full list here]. There are also numerous ongoing investigations into the President's business dealings, including the one announced by New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday, and the religious leaders that back him often seem of the Elmer Gantry school of theology. And then, of course, there is Vladimir Putin, Moscow's poisoner-in-chief.
It seems that we have become numb to the sleaze that surrounds those that have been so important to Donald Trump's rise to power. Putin has another opponent knocked off, Steve Bannon is arrested on a Chinese billionaire’s 152-foot yacht for fraud, and Jerry Falwell Jr. is forced to resign after being caught with his pants down. Is anyone in America even a bit surprised by these revelations?
Trump's supporters will tell you that all these unsavory connections are just unfortunate coincidences that the press exaggerates. A more objective analysis might lead one to believe that folks like Steve Bannon, Vladimir Putin, and Jerry Falwell Jr. feel that the President is a kindred spirit, quite comfortable among tyrants, hucksters, and reprobates.
From the perspective of a political scientist and educator, perhaps the most interesting thing about the Trump presidency is that within just one term it has weathered more scandals than all other presidencies in the last half century combined and some voters are apparently ready to sign up for another four years. It's as if expectations of honestly and integrity simply don't apply to this President. Perhaps he really "could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters," as he famously said in 2016.
As we have written before, we do have some answers as to how America got into this mess in 2016; white nationalism, Christian nationalism, anti-globalism, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny, a witch's brew of bigotry and nativism. But the more interesting question is why these folks have remained committed to Trump through all the scandals, corruption and incompetence. Sociologists, historians, and political scientists will be working on that for years because it's likely to have an impact on how we are governed in the future.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content
Photo: Gage Skidmore