From an Asian American perspective, there are certain times when we find ourselves faced with issues bigger than the concerns of our collective ethnicities–Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Korean, et al.
In other words, the Asian part is less important than the American part in our umbrella phrase of unity.
That’s true now as we find ourselves needing to come together as a whole country, to rid ourselves of all distractions and cynicism, and focus on what the hell is happening to American democracy.
It’s time for us all to be on the same page, folks.
Or maybe that doesn’t matter so much, as long as the book we’re all reading is James Comey’s “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.”
The book sounds the alarm and selects the natural disaster metaphor for our current political situation. It’s not an earthquake, hurricane, or deluge of molten volcanic lava. (I prefer pestilence, but why bring in other species?)
And it’s definitely not stormy, though Time magazine and Ms. Daniels would disagree.
From Comey’s lookout, the Trump presidency is a “forest fire.”
Those of us in California, America’s most Asian American state, know how treacherous a burning forest can be.
“We are experiencing a dangerous time in our country,” Comey warns, “with a political environment where basic facts are disputed, fundamental truth is questioned, lying is normalized and unethical behavior is ignored, excused or rewarded.”
“Tell me something I don’t already know,” you ask?
That’s the problem. Most of everything in Comey’s book would have decimated presidencies past. But Trump? This is how far out of the norm he is, and why we should be concerned, lest we allow Trump’s diminished sense of democracy to become the modern standard.
Of course, one particular allegation is getting all the attention from Comey’s leaked book, no pun intended.
As you may have noticed from the _New York Daily News _front page, referring to Trump as “PEE-BRAIN,” the book gets down and dirty. It again brings up those unverified allegations of a certain dossier that Trump was involved watching prostitutes urinating on themselves in a Russian hotel in 2013.
How much worse is that than unprotected sex with women not his wife?
Trump has denied it all. But Comey talks about Trump’s concern and inability to let go of the matter, which the president called the “golden showers thing.”
Comey wrote how Trump wanted him to discredit the report for Melania’s sake. “He just rolled on, unprompted, explaining why it couldn’t possibly be true, ending by saying he was thinking of asking me to investigate the allegation to prove it was a lie. I said it was up to him.”
Yellow journalism in the Trump era. Sells books.
But can it save our democracy, and will any of this make a difference?
We’ve already had “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff’s fly-on-the-wall tale making an initial splash earlier in the year.
It left us agitated, but ultimately inured.
Sadly, we’ve become accustomed to the political disruptions tweeted daily by Trump, so much so that no one seems to care. Normal? Shouldn’t be.
But Comey’s book is different. It’s the memoir of a real insider, the former FBI director, a Republican, who, you’ll recall, is often scorned by Democrats for reopening the Clinton email investigation a month before the 2016 election. He found nothing, of course, but his actions essentially handed the presidency to the Republican, Trump, who loved him until he didn’t.
Hated by both Republicans and Democrats? Comey’s a guy we can trust.
Showing such equanimity is tough on a guy like Comey, who wrote of feeling nauseous that he may have influenced the election. His public thoughts on the matter at the time, combined with the prospects of a probe into Russian meddling, ultimately bothered Trump, who fired Comeylast May.
Some called that the key example of obstruction of justice. Is it the beginning of our real constitutional crisis to test if the president is above the law?
We’re supposed to know the answer to that question already.
The Comey firing even brought on a satirical New Yorker cover that made Comey for a moment an honorary Asian American, cast as Dr. David Dao, the Asian American dragged down the aisle of an United Airlines jet in 2017.
Given Trump’s record on the truth (more than 2,000 falsehoods or misleading claims in the first year of his presidency, according to the Washington Post Fact Checker), I have no reason to doubt Comey’s memoir.
Trump has already responded to Comey’s book in his customary rhetorical style, calling Comey a “liar and a leaker” and an “untruthful slimeball” in a Friday the 13th tweet.
Call it morning in America.
It shouldn’t be normal that among the trending words for the day in Merriam-Webster’s website is “slimeball.”
Nor should it be normal for the president, when asked about his porn star matter, to refer the media to his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, only to find the lawyer raided by the FBI a few days later. Reportedly, Cohen, under criminal investigation, is considering taking the 5th.
And this was a week that began with a Syrian attack on its own people, with many of us waiting to see if Trump would respond as he did to a similar attack a year ago– with more U.S. missiles.
No missiles so far. Just a threatening notice to Russia and Syria on Twitter that missiles were coming, “new and smart.”
The commander-in-chief tweeting potential U.S. military action? Not smart. Not normal.
In the state of Trump, we’ve come to expect it. The Comey book is likely to make Trump angrier at the world than Melania is angry with him.
Comey’s on his publicity tour next week as the book is officially released Tuesday. Will the president try to dwarf it with a surprise move somewhere? Syria? North Korea? Or will it be an all-out Trumpian domestic blitz: the ouster of Mueller, Gates, Sessions? One? All? But not EPA’s Pruitt? Oh wait, Trump’s just pardoned Scooter Libby, the former Cheney chief of staff who was convicted, fined,and jailed for obstruction of justice and perjury. One leaker and liar Trump likes. But it sounds like Trump’s telling his loyalists being grilled by the Mueller investigation, not to mention his personal fixer Cohen, to stay loyal, The Donald will take care of them.
But who will take care of The Donald? Voters?
In times of crisis, Trump has often sought out the campaign trail stop to pump up and vent. Nothing like dividing the country and stirring up his base of white nationalists.
That’s where he’ll likely take his anger out on us–DACA recipients, immigrants, people of color.
If we’re all on the same page, how can any red-blooded American look the other way and continue to back Trump much longer?