Donald Trump has stopped going to the dogs. Now he has landed upon rodents. White House counsel Donald McGahn, he tweeted early this morning, would not be a ‘RAT type’ like John Dean, the Nixon aide who fessed up to felonious White House activities before Congress to avoid being the fall guy for the administration’s misdeeds. It seems, according to a New York Times report, that McGahn was intent on avoiding a similar scenario and spoke for some 30 hours with the Mueller investigation.
This revelation predictably sent Trump into a Twitter frenzy. Among other things, he’s claiming that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or Councel, as Trump apparently likes to spell it, is Joseph McCarthy reincarnated. Mueller, he said, makes McCarthy look like ‘a baby’ and the investigation itself is ‘McCarthyism at its WORST!’
Hmmm. Even Tailgunner Joe might have thought this a bit of a misfire. It was Trump who was inducted into the dark arts of political and financial warfare by McCarthy’s sinister henchman Roy Cohn and who introduced him to Roger Stone. The team of Cohn and Stone helped to create a worthy successor to McCarthy who flamed out before he could reach the presidency.
Where Trump resembles McCarthy most is, of course, in his demagogic ability to mobilise popular hatreds against liberal elites. As Sam Tanenhaus has noted in the New York Review of Books, the notion that Trump has emerged ab ovo is unpersuasive. He represents the distilled essence of the modern right which first took shape in the early 1950s, then mutated into a dominant force with its Leninist thirst for power. Indeed Rudy Giuliani‘s declaration today to NBC’s Chuck Todd, in reference to Trump possibly appearing before Mueller, that ‘truth is not truth’ is a line that could have come straight from Orwell’s Animal Farm. Two legs bad, four legs good! Perhaps Giuliani’s incautious remark will serve as the catechism that Trump’s credulous followers can start chanting at his rallies.