“The powers that be
That force us to live like we do
Bring me to my knees
When I see what they’ve done to you.” — Chrissie Hynde
If we’ve seen anything over the last several years, we have seen a few distinctive patterns when it comes to the president. Two of those patterns collided yesterday when William Barr was either fired or resigned as the attorney general.
At this point, who knows how that whole thing went down. A number of us picture the whole, “you can’t fire me, I quit” conversations you stereotypically see. Of course, the first pattern in behavior is the turnover itself. Officially, Trump will be hiring his fourth attorney general in less than four years. He has had the same number of chiefs of staff. He has gone through multiple secretaries at nearly every cabinet post. Ben Carlson and Betsy DeVoss are the only two survivors.
The second pattern is the pattern of Trump needing the spotlight on him at all times. Yesterday, the Electoral College officially placed their vote for Joe Biden and there weren’t even any faithless electors. So, officially, Biden got more electoral votes than Trump got in 2016. I’m sure that had to sting a little.
Therefore, Biden made another national address to the country when the results were made official. If there is anything we know about Trump it is that he doesn’t share the spotlight. So, he made the announcement about Barr leaving right around the time that the Electoral College results were being announced. Coincidence I’m sure.
This is both entirely predictable and overwhelmingly sad for Barr. Barr carried Trump’s water like no attorney general ever before. You’d have to go back to the days of Robert Bork before coming even close. When Trump was sued for sexual misconduct (a private civil suit), the justice department agreed to represent him. That means you and I are on the hook for the legal fees associated.
He purposely obfuscated the findings from the Mueller report. He has launched investigations into Trump’s enemies. He single-handedly got the charges dropped against Michael Flynn and soft-pedaled the punishment for Roger Stone. He orchestrated a violent removal of peaceful protesters so that Trump could hold a Bible upside down in a photo op. Anything that the president has wanted, Barr has stepped up and done. Many of these things were arguably illegal and virtually all of them were unethical.
What’s sad is that we have seen numerous other toadies go down this road with Trump. It always ends up working out the same. Being a Trump toady is a lot like being a henchman for SPECTRE. It will never end up the way you want. Either James Bond kills you or someone higher up on the SPECTRE food chain kills you. Either you end up being fired by Trump or you end up being indicted. If you are lucky you hit the daily double.
Barr got into Trump’s crosshairs when he accidentally told the truth. He told the press that there was no discernable fraud in the election and they had done their due diligence in the Justice Department. What was completely predictable about all of it is that the right wing media machine did their thing. Suddenly, Barr was a part of the Deep State and was conspiring against the president. The fact that he carried so much legal water for the president over the past couple of years meant nothing.
The same thing happened to Jeff Sessions and a host of others before Barr. You fall in line behind Trump on every single opportunity or you are worthless to him. Barr wore out his welcome with random precision. Occasional integrity is the worst kind to have.
At the end of the day, I only pretend to feel sorry for Barr. When you make the decision to sell your integrity to serve the leader you get what you get. You either have to keep selling until one of you goes under or face the ultimate consequence sooner rather than later. The next Justice Department could indict him or not. Whatever the case, the fact that he said there was no fraud will not be a determining factor. You get no brownie points for doing the right thing. That’s especially true after you spent the better part of two years doing the wrong things.