Who remembers “Billygate?” For those who don’t, or do so only vaguely, Billygate arose from President Jimmy Carter’s brother Billy Carter registering as a foreign agent to Libya, travelling to that country three times during Carter’s presidency (without the President’s consent) and receiving a sizable personal loan from that country. An exasperated Jimmy Carter wrote this about the matter:
“I am deeply concerned that Billy has received funds from Libya and that he may be under obligation to Libya. These facts will govern my relationship with Billy as long as I am president. Billy has had no influence on U.S. policy or actions concerning Libya in the past, and he will have no influence in the future.”
I still recall the outraged Trinitarian crossings and pearl-clutchings from the Republican Right over Billygate, and the ensuing Senate investigation which led ultimately nowhere. It was their chance to take revenge on Democrats for Watergate.
But it’s not so much Billygate with which I am concerned as Carter’s response to it. It wasn’t full of phoney outrage and gaslighting. It wasn’t full of whataboutisms and bitter disavowals. Carter didn’t try to filibuster with a diatribe of invective about how unfairly the Fake News had treated his brother. Carter didn’t punch down against reporters asking questions about it and suggest they were criminals for doing so.
It was, instead, an open confession of Billy’s impropriety and why Carter’s relationship with his brother had changed because of it. The President’s duty to his country came first. It was apologetic in tone and presidential in effect. It was brief and contrite and magnificent. It was how presidents used to behave.
Who still remembers when presidents used to be that way? Remember the days when half the people on any President’s staff didn’t share his last name? Remember when an endless stream of bile, invective and blame wasn’t issuing daily from the White House? Remember when the President of the United States never mentioned the name of a political opponent he defeated nearly four years ago?
Remember how Barack Obama, for example, stopped talking about Mitt Romney almost immediately after the 2012 election — and virtually never spoke of him again? Obama certainly would have never called him “Crooked Mitt,” or resorted to any other similar kind of second grade playground disparagement.
What we have today instead is a parade of White House spokespeople and advisors each named Trump, each parroting Donald Trump’s party line with the same hateful words in the same way. There’s Ivanka and Eric and Lara and Donald Junior. There’s Trump’s underqualified and arrogant son-in-law Jared Kushner. There’s the chinless dauphin’s fatuous girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle. What they all have in common is each one plays a part in a vicious attack — entirely without evidence — on Joe Biden and Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Hunter, by the way, has never worked in the White House, nor has he ever taken economic advantage of his position to the extent his nepotistic detractors have.
The irony is staggering. Not just the irony, but the blatant hypocrisy. These people literally do not understand the concept of shame, and why they are in all the world the most qualified to hang their heads with it. The amount of lies and hate and deceit and vituperation that gushes incessantly and daily from this White House is nothing short of breathtaking. Sunny days in the midst of this storm are difficult to remember. But we used to have them.
Remember when we used to go entire weeks when we didn’t think of the president of the United States? Imagine that. Remember when it was the President’s job to do his job and not constantly whine for attention, reassurance and praise? The way things are with this White House is not natural, it is not normal. It needs to end.
There are a million reasons why Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States, this has been another one. We can begin the healing in 13 days. We can restore normality in 13 days. They call us snowflakes, so let’s give them an avalanche. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.