In the annals of scandal, Aug. 29 was quite and eventful day. I’ll try to unpack the proceedings.
The federal judge in the feds’ election subversion case decreed that the coup commander shall go on trial in Washington on March 4 – and if he doesn’t like it, well, tough: “Mr. Trump, like any defendant, will have to make the trial date work regardless of his schedule.” (He doesn’t like it. He fled to social media and whined about “fascist thugs.”)
Meanwhile, ex-chief of staff Mark Meadows was in another court trying to weasel his way out of Georgia’s coup case, claiming that he was just trying to help Trump fight for “free and fair elections.” (Orwell just spun 360 degrees.) On a third front, a judge in Georgia decreed that Trump will be arraigned there next Tuesday.
Naturally, Inmate #P01135809’s groupies are in high dudgeon about everything. I won’t lard this column with their many fulminations. To nauseate and entertain you, two examples should suffice.
A Georgia congressman, Andre Clyde, denounced the “sham prosecutions” and said the House should defund special counsel Jack Smith: “Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars have no place funding the radical Left’s nefarious election interference efforts.” And one of his House colleagues, Claudia Tenney, said: “They’re trying to create this appearance of Trump being a criminal.” (She is sooooo close to getting it.)
You’d think that four indictments and 91 felony charges in four jurisdictions should be more than enough to cement Trump’s place in history as our preeminent lowlife. But the rabid right has its own unique take on what constitutes a scandal. Indeed, how fitting it was that Tuesday’s various court proceedings occurred on the ninth anniversary of Fashiongate – Aug. 28, 2014 – when President Barack Obama wore a summer suit that was tan.
Now that was a scandal! Let’s cue the talking heads.
A Fox News blondette said, “I looked twice to make sure he wasn’t a circus ringmaster.”
Another Fox blondette said “the tan suit made him look unpresidential.”
Lou Dobbs huffed, “I think it’s shocking to a lot of people.”
Another Fox pundit said, “Whoever talked him into wearing a tan suit? They’re so desperate because of low poll numbers.”
A Fox roundtable said, “I think it’s a sign to enemies that he’s a wimp.”
Another Fox guy said, “Only liberals could ever elect a guy with a tan suit.”
Republican congressman Peter King said on NewsMax, “For him to walk out – I’m not trying to be trivial here – in a light suit, light tan suit…When you have the world watching, it did not show the seriousness of purpose that you need from a commander-in-chief…The suit was a metaphor for his lack of seriousness.”
Right-wingers on Twitter wrote stuff like, “Skin-colored suits don’t scream POWERFUL.”
And this: “Obama sends the wrong message to our allies.”
And this: “You can’t declare war in a suit like that.”
Perhaps the real problem wasn’t the color of the suit, but the color of the man who wore it. Perhaps the real problem is thinking that a suit’s color is more imperiling to the republic than a far-flung coup plot or the theft of classified nuclear secrets.
As we trudge ever closer to Trump’s day of reckoning, the kind of people who excoriated a tan suit will continue to concoct absurd excuses for real scandal. It will be important to remind ourselves that they dwell outside the American mainstream, in a stupidity zone where fashion is deemed to be worse than fascism.
Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org