New York Mag’s Chait Throws ‘Stalinist’ Smear at ‘Unindicted Co-Conspirators’ in GOP

September 12th, 2018 12:22 PM

Journalist Jonathan Chait attacked President Trump with conspiratorial hyperbole in the September 3 issue of New York magazine, “Trump’s Enablers,” throwing around unhinged “Stalinist” and Lenin-esque” smears and calling Republican Congress “unindicted co-conspirators” for not investigating Democratic allegations against Trump with sufficient vigor (as if Democrats never fiercely defended Bill Clinton on partisan grounds).

After John McCain’s death, as official Washington set its flags at half-staff, Chuck Schumer proposed another kind of tribute to the iconic senator and war hero: that the Russell Senate Office Building, currently named for a segregationist southern Democrat, be renamed for McCain. His Republican colleagues, however, demurred.

They could not admit that their real reason for opposing the honor was that McCain had crossed Trump...

After the conspiracy, came the offensive hyperbole:

What was at stake in this absurd stance was something large: Donald Trump was once again demanding a display of submission from his party. And once again, he received it. As in a Stalinist show trial, the preposterousness of the statements made them more rather than less valuable. Senate Republicans demonstrated their willingness to turn on a colleague out of fealty to Trump, and all the better for him that they did so out of transparent fear rather than conviction.

Not even former colleague turned Attorney General Jeff Sessions is safe

Senate Republicans have likewise all but abandoned the wall of defense they had once maintained around Attorney General Jeff Sessions...

What has prevented Trump from firing Sessions until now were the quiet warnings from the attorney general’s former Republican Senate colleagues that they would refuse to confirm a successor. “If Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay,” Graham insisted a year ago. Now Republicans have signaled a passive acceptance, treating Trump’s impulses as completely normal behavior and ignoring his manifestly corrupt intent in replacing the top federal law-enforcement official. “The president’s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in,” says Graham now, as if Sessions had lost Trump’s trust for a legitimate reason, and not for the crime of observing the basic ethical norms Trump wishes to shred.


A recent list circulated by congressional Republicans to members of their party demonstrates the degree to which Trump’s party has internalized its role as enabler of the president’s misconduct. Republicans have used their majority in Congress to quash almost any oversight of the administration. The list tallied all the scandals and acts of gross incompetence that Democrats would like to investigate if they win control of at least one chamber of Congress.


The point of this impressive litany of scandals was not to show that Republicans have abdicated their basic responsibilities or that the public has a right to information about which business interests directly pay the president and his family, exactly which sources of blackmail he is vulnerable to, and so on. The point was to help Republicans warn their own side what might come to light if Democrats win the midterms....

Chait’s examples of Trump authoritarianism are weak and some don’t even meet the definition. At least he downgraded his offensive comparison of Trump -- from Stalin, to Lenin.

As Republicans’ scant interest in inhibiting Trump has waned, his authoritarianism has grown more uninhibited. He threatened Google with unspecified consequences unless it tweaks its algorithm to drive readers toward more pro-Trump stories. He has edged closer to issuing a pardon of Paul Manafort as a reward for his former campaign manager’s refusal to cooperate with prosecutors. And he ranted in a meeting with leaders from the Christian right that antifa will launch violent attacks against them unless Republicans win in the....And he has increased the frequency of his Lenin-esque charges that the parts of the news media his party does not control are the “enemy of the people.”

Chait concluded:

As Trump plunges deeper into his war against the rule of law, the Republican Congress marches along beside him, unindicted co-conspirators all.