It’s tough to decide which quote, non-Santayana division, works best in relation to processing President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. Right now, perhaps because of its just-before the-fall quality, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” has been in heavy rotation. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s close to The Great Gatsby seems hauntingly prescient when seen through the prism of this week’s modern update of the beloved American classic, “Watergate: The Coverup Is Always Worse Than the Crime.”
The good news: A generation of Americans too young to have been exposed to the constitutional crisis so profound that scandals to this day still get the “-gate” suffix attached to them, has learned firsthand why President Trump’s heavy-handed attempts to quell the expanding investigation into his campaign and administration’s ties to Russia have stirred echoes of President Nixon’s Watergate cullings.
The bad news, cut-and-paste edition: Once again, one of Trump’s more audacious actions has sucked up so much of the oxygen in the room that it was easy to miss more portentous events, like the continued GOP assault on voting rights, this time coming in a blue ribbon-wrapped presidential commission investigating voter fraud in federal elections. Painted ostensibly as the president’s long-promised effort to remove the imaginary millions of illegal voters who cost him the popular vote in last year’s election, all you need to know about the true intent of the commission is that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach – the most aggressive voter-suppression advocate this side of the North Carolina GOP – will lead it.
More importantly, the Comey firing obscured a very productive week for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, although one that may not be legally defensible. By giving his imprimatur to firing the man responsible for the Russia investigation – the same one that Sessions had to recuse himself from because of his own mendacious interactions with Russians – the AG may have committed a resignation-worthy ethics violation based on his own statement that he would refrain from involving himself in “any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.”
Sessions also managed to find time for a regressive right turn on drug sentencing guidelines, flying in the face of both law enforcement professionals around the country and statistical evidence showing that mandatory minimums do more harm than good – unless you’re talking about the private correctional facility industry, of course.
Good thing this is no laughing matter, huh?
Jay Costa and Bob Casey: The two politicians – Costa, the state senator and Casey, the US senator – took the lead in their respective chambers to end the despicable practice of “school lunch shaming,” where students are humiliated in a variety of ways for their families falling behind on school lunch payments. While it’s sickening that this is even an issue, kudos to these two for following the New Mexico Legislature’s lead to resolve it.
Larry Krasner: Some people collect campaign buttons; Krasner collects endorsements, and this week was no exception. The Democratic candidate for Philadelphia District Attorney picked up nods from the Philadelphia Black Clergy, PA Sen. Vincent Hughes, the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters and Penn alum John Legend.
John Fetterman: In a lengthy profile, the Braddock mayor and former Democratic candidate for US Senate is called “the future of the Democratic Party.”
Tom Wolf: the governor took hits at both the state and national levels this week. The state Senate voted along party lines to impede his ability to enact “economically significant” – those of $1 million or more – resolutions that use state funds. And in a blow to Northeast PA, President Trump denied Wolf’s request for federal disaster aid in the wake of March’s record-breaking storms in that part of the commonwealth.
Bill Peduto: the Pittsburgh mayor tried to downplay the severity of the city’s lead problem by incorrectly citing a CNN report that made it seem like Pittsburgh’s was one of 5,330 other municipalities in the country that failed to properly test drinking water for lead contamination.
Scott Wagner: The attorney general’s office has been asked to investigate whether the tussle between the state senator/GOP gubernatorial hopeful and a campaign tracker should result in criminal charges being filed.