Let’s start not with Florida man, but with Florida woman, Trump’s own chouchou d’obsequiousity [translation: pet of obsequiousness], Judge Aileen Cannon, currently stroking her robes with a hand-steamer in her doubtlessly taupe colored bedroom somewhere in Vero Beach, Florida, in preparation for her Big Day tomorrow. When the news hit that Judge Cannon had drawn the Trump documents case in the Southern District of Florida, people, some of whom are readers of this column, reacted as if one of those pythons had slithered out of the Everglades and had wrapped itself around the American judicial system, ready to squeeze the life out of it. How could this have happened? went the cry of alarm from quarters here and yon.
Well, it happened because there are 17 federal judges in that district down in South Florida, and her name came up in the normal assignment rotation, that’s how. Special Prosecutor Jack Smith certainly knew if he empaneled a grand jury in Miami, and they indicted Trump with having committed 38 separate felonies at his resort/club/residence in Palm Beach, that there was at least a chance he would draw the injudicious Judge Cannon, and that’s what happened. He rolled the dice, and now he’s got a Trump-bot to contend with, and that’s that.
What he decidedly did not do is throw up his arms and begin crying to the heavens, “Why me, oh Lord, why me?” In short, he didn’t take it personally. He took it as the normal give and take of the American judicial system, and there is little doubt in my mind that he has prepared himself for l’eventualite chouchou d’obsequiosity in the same manner he prepared himself when he was appointed to his position a half-year ago.
We should all take example from Special Prosecutor Smith. There are ups and downs in this system we call democracy, within which you win some and you lose some. We lost at the ballot box in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected to the highest office in the land, but we won in 2020 when he was soundly beaten by Joe Biden. We need to win again in 2024. That is where our focus needs to be.
It’s hard, though, isn’t it? As we all know after nearly 8 years, this man is a master of distraction, and that’s what he’s been doing ever since it was announced last week that he was a target of the DOJ, and then that he had been indicted. It’s almost as if he is delighting in the whole thing. It’s giving him something to run on. And that’s what he’s going to do. He’s saying that he’s a victim of the justice system, not the man who abused it so profoundly as he tried to keep from having to return all the classified documents he took and obstructed every effort to get him to do just that. We know his tricks by now, like we know our own names. So, we shouldn’t allow Trump, or the Judge Cannon issue, or anything else to make us take our eyes off the prize of beating him with an electoral 2 by 4 next year on election day.
Nor should we allow the shitstorm he’s trying to create to distract us from our goal. He’s going to do everything short of personally handing out free AR-15’s to rile up his lunatic fringe base. We should not avert our gaze from his anti-democratic madness, but we also shouldn’t be afraid of it. The rabid noise his base is making on Twitter, the incitements of a couple of drooling Republican congressmen, and the rabble-rousing Trump is doing at his rallies is being heard by a smaller and smaller slice of the electorate—by which I mean the hard core MAGAs and the Proud Boys and Oath Keeper types who rattle around the edges of our politics. He’s calling for a massive protest tomorrow in Miami at his arraignment, and I guess we’ll have to wait and see how much pull his “SEE YOU IN MIAMI” message on Truth Social has. But I think we can count on federal, state, and local authorities to be way more alert to his machinations than they were before 1/6, and there is little doubt in my mind, at least, that they will be prepared for whatever happens tomorrow.
There is that old saying, attributed to Tip O’Neill, that all politics is local, which was followed by another saying that came out of the women’s movement that all politics is personal. And it is. As we know from the fallout from the Dobbs decision, the women’s rights to control their bodies are on the line in our politics as never before. That is personal.
But I think it behooves us not to take so personally every single little development in l’Affaire Trump. As citizens of this great country, we have to have at least some faith that the institutions of our government have got our backs. Look at what happened when Trump tried to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election by filing lawsuits in our courts. He lost every single lawsuit he filed, save one, if memory serves, and that one didn’t end up mattering. Several so-called Trump judges have slapped down right-wing attempts to subvert things in decisions that have been handed down recently. Even the damned Supreme Court, dominated by a 6-3 majority made possible by three Trump appointments, decided that Section Two of the Voting Rights Act still has teeth and upheld a decision forcing the state of Alabama to re-do its racially-discriminatory voting maps. In Wisconsin, a liberal candidate for the state supreme court was elected, ensuring that an anti-abortion law dating to the 19th Century will be overturned.
So not only is all not lost, it may well turn out that a corner of some kind has been turned in our politics by the man who has made it his business to stomp all over our democracy. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed or not, but the support for him has softened a bit after the indictment spelling out the seriousness of his crimes was released. Even his former legal pit bull, William Barr, went on Fox and said if half the things in the indictment are true, “he is toast.”
That may or may not be the case. Judge Aileen Cannon, if the DOJ doesn’t challenge her appointment to the case in the 11th Circuit and succeed in having her replaced, can create legal mischief for prosecutors as the case goes forward. But we have already seen the legal mischief she tried with the special master business, and what happened when the DOJ stood up and called her out on that. They can do it again, if it comes to that, and we should give Special Prosecutor Smith and his team the chance to show us their chops before we start panicking.
It’s important to be aware that Donald Trump is not the president anymore. He has a huge bully pulpit, and he is devilishly good at using it, but he’s not going to have his bully pulpit today in Miami. He’s going to be, for the second time, seated behind the defendant’s table in a court of law. He’ll be permitted to say “not guilty” or “guilty” when asked for his plea.
That is yet another step in the right direction for our democracy. The one who will be forced to take things personally tomorrow in a federal courtroom won’t be you or me. It will be Donald Trump.
Republished with permission from Lucian K. Truscott IV.
Lucian K. Truscott IV
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives in rural Pennsylvania and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better. You can read his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com. We encourage our readers to get a subscription.