Well said, Frank Bruni

Frank Bruni was one of my mother’ favorite newspaper writers. She remembered him from his days as a food critic (or was it drama?)

These paragraphs are from his recent New York Times op ed [1]. Well done, sir:

The coronavirus’s rampage through America threw a spotlight on its failings — on the galling inequality, the fatal partisanship, the susceptibility to fiction and the way in which rugged individualism had curdled into plain old selfishness.

The coronavirus’s rampage through the White House has had the same effect. What we have seen over recent days is Donald Trump’s presidency in miniature, his worst traits distilled. Two in particular — mendacity and recklessness — are on especially unsettling display.


and later, after commenting on the report that Trump’s people in the West Wing know the boss will not be happy if they bring a mask to work, or try to maintain social distancing, or act in any way like a deadly pandemic is sweeping the world, including inside the White House:

That’s a metaphor for a whole lot more. If you want to make the boss happy, you tell him that his inauguration drew many more people than it did. You tell him bad news is fake. You tell him the polls are off. You tell him Robert Mueller’s investigation is a hoax. You tell him that President Obama spied on his campaign.

You become Attorney General Bill Barr, a one-man factory of exonerations and excuses. You abet his existence in an alternate reality, where the sun is always shining and will magically zap an inconvenient virus into oblivion.

Nicely done, Frank.

Speaking of Trump’s attorney, General Barr, today we learn (from the NY Times) that there is a legal challenge to Mr. Barr’s game, eleventh hour attempt to use the Federal Tort Claims Act to make the E. Jean Carroll defamation suit against Mr. Trump go away. Her suit was commenced after the president publicly called Ms. Carroll a liar and said she “wasn’t his type” (by way of saying it was idiotic of her to accuse him of raping her, and outrageous to demand his DNA for comparison to the specimen on the clothes she wore that day at Bergdorf Goodman that nothing happened).

Barr’s DOJ intervened at the last possible moment, to prevent Mr. Trump from having to turn over some DNA in the New York State case. Barr’s perfectly reasonable rationale is that Mr. Trump was performing his official duties as president when he called E. Jean Carroll a sexually unattractive liar.

In fairness to the unfairly beleaguered Mr. Trump, name one president who hasn’t been called upon, at some point in the course of his official duties, to publicly denounce a media-hungry, vicious, lying dog who claimed he raped her?

Ms. Carroll’s lawyers made a motion to block Barr from making the defamation lawsuit disappear by this arguably corrupt legal maneuver.

In their newly filed court papers, Ms. Carroll’s lawyers asked a judge to block the move, arguing that while the law in question, the Federal Tort Claims Act, generally applies to lower-level government employees, it did not apply to Mr. Trump — or to any other president. They also said that Mr. Trump, in any case, was not acting in his official role when he denied Ms. Carroll’s claims.

“There is not a single person in the United States — not the president and not anyone else — whose job description includes slandering women they sexually assaulted,” the lawyers said.


Bravo, I say.

Barr, for his part, had his unimpeachable, iron-clad answer ready:

“The law is clear,” Mr. Barr told reporters. “It is done frequently. And the little tempest that’s going on is largely because of the bizarre political environment in which we live.”



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