Opinion: If all else fails, he could just behave

photo by: Contributed

Georgia Garvey

I suppose we should talk about Donald Trump.

I really don’t want to, though. Not that there’s nothing newsworthy about a former president and current presidential candidate being found guilty of a passel of felonies related to falsifying his business records to hide a hush money payment. No, that’s important, I guess.

It’s just that so little has changed as a result of it.

You either believe justice was served or you don’t. And the verdict, polls have shown, is highly unlikely to alter your vote for president. You’re either with Trump or you’re against him, and the minor matter of a criminal conviction won’t be anyone’s deciding factor.

Trump’s most successful achievement has been making us all profoundly weary of hearing about his many and varied attacks on public decency. We have outrage fatigue.

Unless, that is, you’re one of the hopping mad MAGAs who believe that the injustice lies not with Trump for breaking the law but with the prosecutors, judge and jury for holding him accountable for so insignificant a crime.

Now, I’ll admit that the hush money case — unlike the election interference ones that the right-wing-led Supreme Court is successfully delaying until after November, when President-elect Trump can pardon himself — aren’t the most serious accusations Trump faces. I’ll grant the MAGAs that Trump, after years of sowing the “lock her up” wind, is now reaping a somewhat politicized whirlwind — as long as they grant me one thing in return:

A big boo-freaking-hoo.

After all, just because it’s a witch hunt doesn’t mean Trump’s not a witch.

Presidents should, and do, get intense scrutiny. I mean, does anyone really — even now — understand why then-President Bill Clinton had to testify about an extramarital affair in relation to a case about a failed land deal?

Why do we still talk about then-President George W. Bush holding hands with a Saudi king, nearly 20 years after it happened?

Why was a tremendous fuss made in 2007 about Barack Obama saying he wouldn’t wear an American flag pin on his lapel because it had become a replacement for true patriotism?

And when was the last time video of someone tripping on stairs made international news?

One of the few millstones placed on the neck of the powerful is the way their behavior is judged by a different yardstick. Julius Caesar divorced his wife Pompeia simply for being the target of a failed seduction.

“Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion,” he said in explanation.

In this most recent trial in New York, Trump is Caesar’s wife, and there’s not much suspicion he’s above.

Trump’s lawyers, after all, might have won the most recent case had they focused on the legality of the charges instead of on the laughable assertion that Trump didn’t have sex with Stormy Daniels. One of the many things I wish our society were not intimately familiar with is Donald J. Trump’s taste in women. Trump’s repeated claims on social media and in rallies that he’d never touched Daniels painted his defense team into a corner and limited their ability to defend him.

Trump also might have been found not guilty in New York if he’d had better attorneys or done a better job of listening to the ones he has, but he’s got no one to blame but himself for that, either. After becoming infamous for failing to pay his debts, you can hardly blame lawyers for being skittish to take him on as a client. And as the most recent trial proved, getting Trump to follow anyone’s advice is near impossible; He can barely (and rarely) be prevailed upon even to follow a judge’s orders.

This is all a bit like going down to bed with dogs and being outraged that you’ve woken up with fleas.

Going forward, I hope that the MAGAs will please spare us the argument that now that Trump has been convicted of a ticky-tack crime, the GOP will go after Democratic politicians. Don’t, as the kids say, threaten me with a good time. The powerful and wealthy escape consequences often enough. We’d all welcome a reversal of the dynamic.

And if Trump and his acolytes have such a big problem with him being punished for minor offenses, he still has one unpursued, if unlikely, path remaining:

He can always behave.

— Georgia Garvey is a syndicated columnist with Creators.


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