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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Elvis said, “When things go wrong, don’t go with them.”

Depression warps one’s thinking. It saps energy and magnifies problems, making it hard to deal with them calmly. Democrats’ overreaction to the recent loss in a Georgia special election bore all the trademarks of depression.

“Why Do Democrats Keep Losing in 2017?” was among the self-flagellating headlines, this one in The Atlantic.

Democrats badly need a little cognitive therapy to challenge negative patterns of thought. So they lost special elections in South Carolina, Kansas, Georgia and Montana. These were all conservative strongholds. Suppose Republicans had just failed to win in California, Massachusetts, New York and Washington. Would anyone have deemed such outcomes an omen of doom?

“Catastrophizing” is the shrink’s term for treating ordinary setbacks as catastrophes. Depressed people get trapped in a negative feedback loop: “I’m no good. Why even try? I lose. I’m no good.”

Democrats need to break that loop. Sure, it would have been nice had Democrat Jon Ossoff won the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. The reality is he lost by less than 4 points in a district that a mere seven months before had given the Republican a 23-point win.

Ossoff was a 30-year-old political novice who, unfortunately, lived just outside the district. He put up a really good fight, but imagine what a seasoned politician with a deep drawl could have done.

Democrats set themselves up for heartbreak when they made this vote the be-all and end-all event that would break the curse of Donald Trump. National Democrats poured millions into the race, a factor that may have annoyed wavering locals. It may also have energized the Trump base.

Whatever, putting all their chips on one race and declaring in advance that a win would change everything made Democrats mentally unprepared for even a small loss. But their situation is far from hopeless.

Come the midterms, Democrats will be running in dozens of other suburban districts that are more competitive. They must work these contests with a cool resolve, not desperation.

After all, many suburbs once deemed reliably Republican have gone blue. Trump failed to get 50 percent of the suburban vote. Atlanta’s Cobb County and Orange County in California used to be the quintessence of Republican country. Trump lost in both of them.

And the suburban threat for Republicans goes beyond Trump and his unique brand of offensiveness. Neither the gentlemanly Mitt Romney in 2012 nor the mainstream John McCain in 2008 could clear the 50 percent hurdle in the suburbs.

Democrats in a funk must identify the half-full glasses, starting with the fact that Trump would not be president but for an electoral fluke. He lost the popular vote by a not-insignificant 3 million, and Election Day was the high point of his popularity.

In conservative Montana, a state Trump carried by more than 20 points, a weak Democratic candidate lost to Republican Greg Gianforte by only 6 points. The half-empty-glass view is Gianforte should have done far worse for having physically attacked a reporter on the eve of the election. But that ignores the early voting; the cake had largely been baked by then.

Democrats do have a lot of issues to work out. Their messaging could use significant improvement, and they need to groom strong candidates.

But generic congressional polls consistently show a clear preference for a Democratic takeover of Congress. This is no time for debilitating mood swings.

Democrats felt dispirited and powerless through much of the George W. Bush years. They took back the House in 2006 and the Senate and White House in 2008. Things change, and — depressives take note — not always for the worse.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

 

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  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
  • The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.” If Pat Cipollone, the White House legal counsel, did not “generate the paperwork,” was he or anyone on his staff aware at all of the declassifications? The White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons resigned his post in December 2020. Did his successor, who held the position for a month, while Trump was consumed with plotting his coup, ever review the material found in Trump’s concealed files for declassification? Or did Patel review the material? Can Patel name any individual who properly reviewed the supposed declassification?
  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 7.Did Trump destroy any of the files? If so, when? Did those files contain incriminating information? Did he destroy any files after he received the June subpoena?
  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
  • 9.Does the resort maintain a copying machine near the classified documents that Trump hid? Were any of the documents copied or scanned? Are Trump’s documents at Mar-a-Lago originals or copies? Were any copies shown or given to anyone?
  • 10.Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb has revealed that a video surveillance system covers the places where Trump hid the files at Mar-a-Lago, and that the system is connected to a system at his other residences at the Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York City. According to Bobb, Trump and members of his family observed the FBI search and seizure of his files at Mar-a-Lago, “actually able to see the whole thing” through their surveillance system. Who has that surveillance system recorded entering the rooms where the files were kept?

Kevin Bacon, right, in "The Following"

The aftermath of the August 8, 2022 search of the Mar-a-Lago club, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, isn’t the first showdown between the FBI and a cult leader.

The Following, a 2013 Fox Pictures series, played out in similar fashion. Three seasons was enough for the producers and it’s been nine years since our introduction to Joe Carroll, English professor-novelist-serial killer, so there’s a spoiler risk -- but not enough to prevent the comparison.

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