If you sent money to “We Build the Wall,” the online crowdfunding scam Steve Bannon was running, I feel sorry for you. Bannon, Trump’s former chief political strategist, who often resembles an unmade bed, was taken into custody by postal service inspectors aboard a $28 million yacht owned by a sketchy Chinese billionaire.
Charged with wire fraud and money laundering for skimming off $1 million for his personal use, Bannon had promised donors 100% of all funds raised would go toward the wall. He joins a rogues’ gallery of senior Trump insiders who’ve been arrested and he’s now looking at 20 years behind a federal prison’s walls, that is unless he cuts a deal with prosecutors, trading what he knows for a reduced sentence … and Bannon knows a lot.
By the way, that 2,000-mile-long wall Trump made the centerpiece of his 2016 campaign? You know, the one Mexico would pay for? Nearly four years later, all of 5 new miles of 30-foot-tall steel bollard fencing has been added to the 260 miles of barriers that already existed, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Trump is still waiting for that check from Mexico.
On the same day Bannon was handcuffed, former Vice President Joe Biden accepted the Democratic presidential nomination. The contrast could not have been more stark.
Biden’s rousing acceptance speech was hailed by many, including Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Dana Perino. Bannon, meanwhile, the very embodiment of the president’s corrupt administration, was perp-walked in New York.
For four nights, we had a refreshing preview of what can be with Biden in the White House, a return to decency, civility and our common humanity; respectful debate; a government that works for all Americans; and a restoration of democratic institutions and the rule of law.
Biden pledged to end “this chapter of American darkness” after he takes office, and dark it’s been. The damage Trump has wrought was summarized by former Secretary of State John Kerry: “Donald Trump inherited a growing economy and a more peaceful world, and like everything else he inherited, he bankrupted it.”
Biden will have to get the nation’s health and economy back on track while restoring trust with our European and Asian allies and putting blood-soaked dictators in their place. As president, Biden will need to lead the rest of the world to save the planet from environmental ruin. Race relations haven’t been this bad since the 1960s, so President Biden must rebuild the burned bridges linking white, Black, Latino-Hispanic, and Asian America.
The to-do list is long, but I’m confident Biden will attract an accomplished team. And unlike Trump, Biden will seek and consider their counsel, not replace them with sycophants and bottom feeders like Bannon when they disagree with him.
In flailing desperation, President Trump opened the Republican National Convention this week by pointing at the havoc he created and saying a President Biden will deliver more of the same. He went on to accuse an unidentified “they” of preparing to rig the election against him.
In a new television ad, Trump’s longtime attorney and fixer Michael Cohen said the president believes Americans are “a bunch of fools” and warned viewers not to believe “a word he utters.” Maryanne Trump Barry, a retired federal judge, recently said of her little brother, “You can’t trust him … he has no principles. None.”
Bannon, Cohen, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Mike Flynn, Rick Gates, these are the “best people” who helped Trump win in 2016, and every one is indicted for or was convicted of felonies relating to their senior roles in the campaign.
What does that say about President Trump if we agree you are judged by the company you keep?
It tells me that the administration is little more than a criminal enterprise, now protected by the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, Trump-appointed Attorney General Bill Barr. Is this really the America we want, one led by a president talking and behaving like a mafia godfather who’s paid off the cops to look the other way?
The upcoming election is a referendum, not just on Trump, but on the constitutional principles we hold dear. And if you believe this president adheres to those same principles, you haven’t been paying attention.
I’m not putting much stock in polls. Rather, I am placing my faith in the wisdom of the American people, those who understand and appreciate what this nation was founded on; those who expect the president to uphold and defend our Constitution; Americans who seek authentic leadership, not some cheesy carnival barker’s hollow promises.
Take a long, hard look at Bannon and those other grifters, and ask yourself how any of them got near the Oval Office. The answer lies in an old proverb that goes, the fish rots from the head down.