Dahlia Lithwick explores the question of why the massive scandal that is the relationship between Ginni Thomas’s attempts to overthrow the government and her husband’s jurisprudential activities in re those attempts almost instantly disappeared from the collective consciousness more completely than a 1970s summer replacement sitcom:
It’s easy enough to understand why the Ginni Thomas texts managed to be both horrifying and nothing at the same time. In part they benefit from the soft presumption of comedy that Donald Trump brought to public life. If something is goofy enough, if it involves a Sharpie, or an open plea to the Proud Boys, or the blurting out of a crackpot QAnon theory, then it doesn’t rise to the level of real or substantial political discourse. We would likely have taken Ginni Thomas’ texts more seriously if they implicated actual legal theories as opposed to advocating for the immediate release of the Kraken. Relatedly, it’s easy to blow Ginni off because, as George Will puts it, in his defense of her conduct, “She is, politically, mad as a hatter. The shelves in her mental pantry groan beneath the weight of Trumpian hysterics about the 2020 presidential election having been stolen and the republic’s certain ruination under Joe Biden.” It’s the old “it can’t be serious if its bonkers” defense, and the Thomas’ have been reaping the benefit of this particular chestnut for decades. The failure to comprehend that someone can be unserious and deadly serious at the same time may well be one of the reasons democracy is so constantly imperiled.
The other reason we’ve all moved on is that there is seemingly nothing to be done. Everyone agrees that until and unless there is a binding, enforceable code of conduct on Supreme Court Justices, they will do what they want. Besides, the justices are seemingly unbothered and unfazed by the prospect of plummeting approval ratings and a decline in public confidence. (Today’s shadow docket decision is Exhibit a billion to that effect) In other words, if the same nine people who are meant to be fighting for the idea of an apolitical court have given up on that project, there’s not much the rest of us can do about it either.
This is certainly correct as far as it goes. It’s nuts plus there’s nothing we can do about it could be modified to we can’t do anything about it because it’s nuts. Donald Trump’s entire political career is literally nothing but the non-stop mongering of lunatic conspiracy theories to resentful old white people. This is not hyperbole, it is fact. Asking whether Trump himself believes those theories is like asking whether colorless green ideas sleep furiously. Trump doesn’t “believe” things like normal people believe things, because he’s not a normal person: he’s a malignant narcissist and extreme sociopath, who in at least one important sense isn’t even really a human being any more.
He was also president of the United States for four years, got impeached twice, tried to overthrow the government on national TV, and is likely to be president again quite shortly. Almost no one in the respectable media will say these these things, because they’re unendurable, and what’s unendurable very quickly becomes unsayable.
Speaking of the memory hole, it’s been four months since the House of Representatives voted to hold Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s chief of staff and the recipient of Ginni Thomas’s dozens of texts in regard to how he could help overthrow the government, in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before it regarding his role in Trump’s attempt to overthrow the government.
Merrick Garland isn’t going to prosecute Meadows, because what’s unendurable and unsayable makes effective action against it undoable.