The prospect of a fascist dictatorship run by lifelong punchline Donald Trump is so patently absurd it’s almost beyond imagining. It feels a little like waking up from a 10-year coma and finding out Carrot Top is your new stepdad. And yet here we are. Serious voices from both the left and right are now issuing stark warnings about that very possibility, as the long-disgraced ex-POTUS continues to romp past the primary field with his head and right hand held high.
One of those “serious” (as in not belligerently barmy) voices is former Rep. Liz Cheney, who’s been forced to watch in horror as one Republican after another genuflects before the clammy sack of nougat who’s nudged our democracy to the brink.
Cheney, vice chair of the House Jan. 6 committee that recommended criminal charges be brought against (alleged!) criminal Donald Trump, recently joined John Dickerson of “CBS News Sunday Morning” for an interview scheduled to run this weekend. She’s promoting her book “Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning” while also sounding alarm bells over just how close we are to losing the country we all grew up with.
RELATED STORY: Cheney’s new book is a devastating indictment of Republican efforts to overturn 2020
CBS has made an excerpt of the interview available so you can get a head start on lobotomizing yourself with an ice auger. A short clip and two brief transcripts follow:
DICKERSON: You say Donald Trump, if he is reelected, it will be the end of the republic. What do you mean?
CHENEY: He’s told us what he will do. It’s very easy to see the steps that he will take. People who say, ‘Well, if he’s elected, it’s not that dangerous because we have all of these checks and balances’ don’t fully understand the extent to which the Republicans in Congress today have been co-opted. One of the things that we see happening today is a sort of a sleepwalking into dictatorship in the United States.
Of course, this has been obvious for some time, but someone on the right had to say it out loud, and that someone appears to be Liz Cheney. Though, needless to say, if Liz Cheney is your conscience, you’re in trouble. It’s like making Andy Dick your AA sponsor. Or hiring a neurosurgeon who also does goat sacrifices. But hey, any port in a storm, right?
In the upcoming interview, Cheney also touches on a major theme of her book: Republicans in Congress are far too cowardly and cowed by Trump to uphold sacred American values and the rule of law. And she reserves particular scorn for current House Speaker Mike Johnson:
CHENEY: If you look at what Donald Trump is trying to do, he can’t do it by himself. He has to have collaborators. And the story of Mike Johnson is a story of, of a collaborator and of someone who knew then—and knows now—that what he’s doing and saying is wrong, but he’s willing to do it in an effort to please Donald Trump. And that’s what makes it dangerous.
DICKERSON: The speaker of the House is a collaborator to overthrow the last election?
Of course, these comments dovetail nicely with excerpts from Cheney’s new book, a copy of which CNN obtained in advance of its Dec. 5 release:
On Jan. 6, before the attack on the Capitol, Cheney describes a scene in the GOP cloakroom, where members were encouraged to sign their names on electoral vote objection sheets, lined up on a table, one for each of the states Republicans were contesting. Cheney writes most members knew “it was a farce” and “another public display of fealty to Donald Trump.”
“Among them was Republican Congressman Mark Green of Tennessee,” Cheney writes. “As he moved down the line, signing his name to the pieces of paper, Green said sheepishly to no one in particular, ‘The things we do for the Orange Jesus.’”
Well, actually, Trump is more of a Red Ocher Judas or Burnt Sienna Satan, but since when can you count on Republicans for accuracy?
Needless to say, Cheney isn’t the only one sounding the alarm. On Thursday, Washington Post Editor at Large Robert Kagan published a chilling editorial titled, “A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending.” And while it’s easy to quibble over just how “inevitable” Trump’s return is—abortion-rights advocates will no doubt have something to say about it—nothing in the piece could be considered outlandish or overly alarmist. And Kagan—no doubt correctly—notes that, once Trump secures the GOP nomination, the vast majority of Republicans will dutifully fall in line behind the feral former POTUS, who no longer makes any attempt to conceal his plans for transforming the world’s preeminent democracy into a fascist Cracker Barrel.
The magical-thinking phase is ending. Barring some miracle, Trump will soon be the presumptive Republican nominee for president. When that happens, there will be a swift and dramatic shift in the political power dynamic, in his favor. Until now, Republicans and conservatives have enjoyed relative freedom to express anti-Trump sentiments, to speak openly and positively about alternative candidates, to vent criticisms of Trump’s behavior past and present. Donors who find Trump distasteful have been free to spread their money around to help his competitors. Establishment Republicans have made no secret of their hope that Trump will be convicted and thus removed from the equation without their having to take a stand against him.
All this will end once Trump wins Super Tuesday. Votes are the currency of power in our system, and money follows, and by those measures, Trump is about to become far more powerful than he already is. The hour of casting about for alternatives is closing. The next phase is about people falling into line.
In fact, it has already begun. As his nomination becomes inevitable, donors are starting to jump from other candidates to Trump. The recent decision by the Koch political network to endorse GOP hopeful Nikki Haley is scarcely sufficient to change this trajectory. And why not? If Trump is going to be the nominee, it makes sense to sign up early while he is still grateful for defectors.
That’s scary stuff, but as Cheney, et al., point out, it’s not just a frightening prospect—in many ways, it’s already happening. And one of America’s two major political parties appears to be all in.
So in this case, Cheney—the enemy of our enemy—is not just our friend but potentially a key ally in saving American democracy. And yet her dad’s an (alleged!) war criminal. Imagine that.
RELATED STORY: Liz Cheney slams ‘nutball conspiracy theorist’ Mike Lee for pushing Jan. 6 lie
Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.
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