Froma Harrop: Moral whites at the center of our government

Perhaps the most permanent image that emerged from Tuesday’s hearing on the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was that of shaved Chief of Staff Mark Meadows rushing to help Donald Trump overthrow the United States government.

What do you want sir ? Do you want me to call the limo or do you want me to facilitate the end of American democracy? I am here to serve… you, that is.

What we have seen are senior politicians standing on the sidelines as Trump sends armed mobs to the Capitol. One after another they presented themselves as moral virgins.

There was this video of fallen general Michael Flynn looking shrunken and scared as he pleaded for the fifth over and over again. He didn’t even have the courage to say whether he believed in the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America.

Or maybe Flynn didn’t really know what he thought about it, especially since Trump wasn’t there to tell him what to think.

When asked if the Jan. 6 violence was justified, Flynn needed time with his lawyer. He finally squeaked out a request for elaboration. Was it a moral question or a legal question? Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney said, “Both.” And so Flynn took fifth out of the two.

Could this pathetic character be the same military officer who in 2016 led Trump crowds in aggressive chants to lock down Hillary Clinton? It seems he was only tough as long as Trump rented him a piece of his shadow. As the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “The coward only threatens when he is safe.”

What about those weird hybrids who resisted Trump’s wishes without really grasping the enormity of the crimes he wanted them to commit? You have Arizona Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who under enormous pressure to undermine the 2020 election results refused to invalidate his state’s vote count in favor of Joe Biden. For this courageous act, Bowers was rightly awarded a Profile in Courage award from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation.

But then he said he would vote for Trump again “simply because what he did the first time around, pre-COVID, was so good for the country.”

It was a “Other than that, how was the room, Mrs. Lincoln?” kind of comment. Or to use a more recent example, he was praising Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini for allegedly keeping trains running on time.

Maybe there are things Trump did that Bowers liked. Every president has done things I’ve liked (or disliked), including Trump.

But every issue—immigration, abortion, health care, the list goes on—must come second, third, or fourth to Americans’ right to choose their own leaders. One would think that fomenting an insurrection against the elected government would be a disqualifier for a second term.

Bowers was not lacking in character. His deficit appears to be intellectual.

Meadows is another case, and it’s scarier because it looks totally vacant. There is no there, just a primal need to maintain a perception of power. Meadows would have known what was happening at the Capitol could have been cataclysmic but didn’t want to upset the boss.

It bears repeating that the witness who set off this cluster bomb of revelations was Meadows’ 26-year-old assistant. Cassidy Hutchinson was a conservative Republican, like Cheney, committee member Adam Kinzinger, and a number of right-wing heroes ready to watch Trump and his menacing henchmen.

“Do you believe in the peaceful transition of power? should be easy to answer. But not for the moral zombies who, to our amazement, have risen so high in the US government.

Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist. Follow her on Twitter @FromaHarrop.


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