Paranoia strikes deep in the heartland,
But I think it's all overdone -- Paul Simon, 'Have a Good Time,' 1975
Not sure about the heartland, but paranoia was certainly striking deep on the set of AM Joy on MSNBC today. Host Joy Reid devoted a segment to a discussion of the supposedly serious possibility that President Trump would refuse to leave office after two terms, the constitutional limit of the 22nd Amendment notwithstanding.
Reid asked her panelists, "in all seriousness," what happens if President Trump refuses to leave office? Sadly, rather than trying to talk poor Joy down, the panelists to a person fed her fevered fantasies.
Dean Obeidallah spun a scenario in which AG Bill Barr would devise a legal pretext and get to the Supreme Court, where the hope would be that "their GOP-controlled Supreme Court keeps him there."
NBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner claimed that President Trump is pardoning "war criminals," and planning "to call on the military and they’re going to rise up to help me."
MSNBC analyst and MoveOn.org spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said that Trump's base would "go into the street" to support his right to a third term, adding, "we're in a dangerous, dangerous place with our democracy."
Reid, her paranoia reaching its apotheosis, imagined that despite it being impossible for Trump to carry Vermont, because of "outside influences" on election night he declared that he had done so, thus winning re-election. She wanted to know what could be done in such case. Kirschner tried to reassure the worried Reid: "the public, I think, has to hope that the institutions that will have to wrestle with those decisions, most notably the courts, will hold."
The delusions of Reid and company might be amusing, except that they seem to be laying the groundwork for attempts to undermine the legitimacy of a Trump 2020 win: a bitter Hillary Clinton on steroids, you might say.
Here's the transcript.
10:56 am ET
JOY REID: Donald Trump has been [air quotes] joking about never leaving office pretty much since he took office, including as recently as last week.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Should we go back to 16 years? Should we do that? Congressmen, can we have that extended? You know the last time I jokingly said that, the papers started saying: he's got despotic tendencies. No, I'm not looking to do it . . . I said, well wait a minute: under the normal rules, I'll be out in 2024. So we may have to go for an extra term, okay? No, no: I'm only kidding.
. . .
REID: What happens, in all seriousness, what happens if Donald Trump, who doesn't believe in the constitutional norms or anything. He just believes in power and money for Donald Trump. If he just says, you know what? If I leave this office, I might get prosecuted in New York. I ain't leaving. What would happen?
He keeps on joking about it. But you know, dictatorships happen all over the world when the person who jokes about not leaving doesn't leave . . . If [the congressional Republicans] have given up their own power and say he’s the king. Whatever he wants, he can have it. They’ll never, they would never vote him out, even if he said, "I ain't leaving."
DEAN OBEIDALLAH: Donald Trump is how democracies die . . . If Donald Trump were to go out in the country and campaign: I deserve a third term, he will get the support of his base, and Bill Barr, the cover-up AG, will find some legal way to have an argument to at least get it to the Supreme Court and hope
OBEIDALLAH: And this should scare everyone who believes in our republic.
. . .
GLENN KIRSCHNER: He thinks 'I'm pardoning war criminals. So if I have to overstay my presidential term, I'm going to call on the military and they’re going to rise up to help me.'
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: The people who are watching Fox, the people who are following Donald Trump believe him. They believe what they’re hearing. They’re buying it, they're consuming it. And so when Donald Trump plants the seed in their mind about oh, hahaha, I can have a third term, they believe what he’s saying. So if he ever decides to switch that seed and turn it into something real, they’ll just go into the street and they’ll say yes, you are supposed to have your third term! And so we are in a dangerous, dangerous place right now with our democracy, with our constitution, and Republicans are just clearing the path for Donald Trump.
REID: We have to start thinking way outside the box when it comes to Donald Trump. Let’s say that he refused to participate in the election, or the election comes into question. Let’s say on election night, it's announced that Donald Trump won Vermont. And everyone knows that's not possible. But somehow, because we had outside influences that get involved in the election, that is the way that he claims that he won the election. What can the public do about it if they believe that the election was not legitimate? Is there anything that the public can do?
KIRSCHNER: You know, it's a tough question. The public, I think, has to hope that the institutions that will have to wrestle with those decisions, most notably the courts, will hold.