Last night Donald Trump gave a State of the Union address that was chaotically all-over-the-place. For all his partisan rhetoric, childish boasting, and absurd lies, most of this speech will soon be forgotten. But Trump made one remark, in a clear cut attempt at getting himself off the legal hook, that’ll probably be remembered by the history books – and not for the reasons Trump might have been hoping.
Donald Trump didn’t even bother yelling “witch hunt” or “no collusion” during his speech, perhaps because he realizes it’s too late for those kinds of chants to help him. Instead he took a different approach, busting out this failed attempt at a catchy slogan: “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.” In so doing, Trump gave away his new strategy.
Now that the Democrats have control of the investigative power in the House, even as Robert Mueller and the SDNY are expanding their criminal investigations into Donald Trump’s life of corruption, Trump is now counting on “investigation fatigue.” If enough moderates and non-political types get tired of there being too many investigations into all things Trump, perhaps it’ll work to Trump’s favor. The trouble is that another famous criminal, and a much smarter one at that, already tried this strategy – and famously failed.
During his 1974 State of the Union address, Richard Nixon placed his bets on investigation fatigue when he declared that “One year of Watergate is enough.” How well did that strategy work out for him? That same year he ended up resigning. Donald Trump keeps copycatting every mistake Nixon made on his way down. Is it out of some slavish desire to fail, or are these merely the default steps that criminal politicians take when they’re not very good at being criminals? Either way, Trump just gave away that he’s now down to invoking Nixon’s final strategy – the one that finished him off.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report