New Yorker satirist, in this short speech
There is also the problem of quantity. There were usually a few cabinet members, a few congressional leaders, who stood out for being especially atrocious. But the current administration is uniformly atrocious, you might even say super-atrocious, though in a completely dull way, as is the current congressional leadership. Particularly with the cabinet this obscures any difference among them, except in the specific ways they've illegally wasted taxpayer money and wrecked whatever they touch.
Among the results for observers are scandal fatigue and outrage exhaustion. Another indicator I've noticed lately is in the inevitable characterizing of two people in a dispute, one as the relative bad guy, the other as the relative good guy. The bad guy is usually pretty bad. But the relative good guy is maybe getting too much of a pass.
But it does make us forget just how loathsome the relative good guy in any story actually is in the real world. Senator Mitch McConnell may be less offensive by some criteria than Steve Bannon, but McConnell has been as destructive to this country and the future as any human on the face of the earth during the past nine years.
Senator Bob Corker has been getting good media and kudos for courage as he attacks our apprentice dictator in the White House. He may be due credit for that, and he may play an important role, but his record in the Senate is obstructionist and rabid rightist. He opposed the stimulus that got us out of the Great Recession, and voted against efforts to curb greenhouse gases, among other objectionable positions. But he does look good in a suit.
One of Corker's big objections to the White House is its insane foreign policy, particularly involving North Korea, so full marks for that. But his eloquent sanity on this gives him credibility to boost Secretary of State Tillerson as a good guy v. Homemade Hitler.
Talk about a low bar--there are few individual creatures on the planet who on balance isn't preferable to Homemade Hitler. Tillerson has indeed opposed and perhaps restrained HH on North Korea and perhaps other flashpoints, and he interestingly not only called HH a moron but refuses to say he didn't.
But Tillerson has practically destroyed the State Department, which as much as HH's bluster, could be decisive in getting this country into a war, killing our troops and citizens and costing us billions, not to mention the suffering of others. As the ex-Exxon CEO he is also among the cabinet members turning over government decision-making to the oil companies for their profit.
Media reports also prime us to root for WH chief of staff General John Kelly, the "adult in the room" restraining the romper president from his world-threatening tantrums. Day after day Kelly is lionized, and his possible dismissal or rumored dissatisfaction to the point of resigning, are breathless big news.
But Kelly is a blunt far rightist and partisan all the way, as he proved with his statements Thursday absolving the apprentice dictator from his hamfisted comments to a grieving widow on the way to accept the remains of her fallen husband (comments which seem now to be awkwardly based on what Kelly told him to say.) Kelly conveniently forgot that this entire episode began with the a.d. deflecting a question about why neither he nor his administration had anything to say about the extraordinary action in Niger that killed four soldiers, and instead gratuitously and of course inaccurately suggesting that other presidents didn't call the families of the fallen.
Instead Kelly went after the Democratic Member of Congress who heard the phone call, not because she was listening in but because it was on speakers, and she was in the car going to meet the plane because she had personally mentored the man whose body was arriving--something Kelly left out of his attack on her.
And even after that, Kelly gratuitously and inaccurately accused this Democrat of something she didn't do, his equivalent of an a.d. tweet. Sad.
Update Fri.: The Kelly muckfest got worse on Friday, as video surfaced that proved what he said about Congresswoman Wilson was completely inaccurate. The story took a racial turn as reported by the NY Times. Even before the video, Kelly was criticized for other inaccuracies. The White House responded by doubling down on the original lie about Wilson, just as it insisted that she had inaccurately reported the a.d.'s conversation with the grieving widow, to the point of the a.d. himself calling her a liar and saying he had proof she was--until Kelly himself confirmed that her description was accurate. Then the White House press secretary said that getting into a debate with a four-star Marine general was itself "highly inappropriate." Just another small reveal on the way to dictatorship.
Update Sat.: At the New Yorker, Masha Gessen's devastating essay entitled "John Kelly and the Language of the Military Coup."
Also on Thursday there was President George W. Bush, perhaps the luckiest man in America in that he can no longer be called the worst president in U.S. history. He emerged as a good guy because he made an eloquent speech--full of stirring alliteration-- denouncing the policies and attitudes of You Know Who, without naming him.
He is perhaps the most amazing of all, because in most respects, he is actually a cut above the current incumbent. Further, I am open to being persuaded that he's learned a lot in his 8 years away from Washington. And Michelle seems to like him.
But his presidency was a civil liberties, hyperpartisan, warmongering catastrophe, and helped lower the bar for the current incumbent, leaving us with the legacy of torture, two intractable wars and the Great Recession. Or as Adam K. Raymond noted in his piece dutifully covering the speech, he is "a devoted husband and father and the author of a senseless war that killed more than a million people."
That we have to be so grateful for Bob Corker and G. W. Bush, maybe even Rex Tillerson and John Kelly to some degree (although it stretches a point to include McConnell) tells us something about the Unnameable, this pit of craven lunatics into which too much of our public reality has fallen.