Monday, June 8, 2020

Commentary on Trump's Powerful Religious Enablers Pence, Barr, Pompeo: "Have Convinced Themselves That They Are in a Biblical Moment"

The three most important members of Trump's Cabinet—Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Attorney General William Barr—are all profoundly shaped by Vichyite apocalyptic thinking. All three are clever enough to understand what Trumpism really means, that it has nothing to do with God or faith, that it is self-serving, greedy, and unpatriotic. Nevertheless, a former member of the administration (one of the few who did decide to resign) told me that both Pence and Pompeo "have convinced themselves that they are in a biblical moment." All of the things they care about—outlawing abortion and same-sex marriage, and (though this is never said out loud) maintaining a white majority in America—are under threat. Time is growing short. They believe that "we are approaching the Rapture, and this is a moment of deep religious significance." Barr, in a speech at Notre Dame, has also described his belief that "militant secularists" are destroying America, that "irreligion and secular values are being forced on people of faith." Whatever evil Trump does, whatever he damages or destroys, at least he enables Barr, Pence, and Pompeo to save America from a far worse fate. If you are convinced we are living in the End Times, then anything the president does can be forgiven.

Heather Cox Richardson, "June 7, 2020 — Letters from an American": 

Trump is still president, tweeting anger and grievance today as his poll numbers slip. "If I wasn't constantly harassed for three years by fake and illegal investigations, Russia, Russia, Russia, and the Impeachment Hoax, I'd be up by 25 points on Sleepy Joe and the Do Nothing Democrats. Very unfair, but it is what it is!!!" he wrote. 
Attorney General William Barr is still in office, and while he backed off today from claiming responsibility for ordering the troops to clear Lafayette Square, he still defended the administration's approach to the protests. On CBS's Face the Nation today, he told host Margaret Brennan that the pepper spray used against the protesters was "not a chemical irritant," and therefore, presumably, not an unreasonable use of force. Its manufacturer advertises pepper spray to police officers as "the most effective chemical irritant available."

Over the past week, Attorney General William Barr has taken a series of actions that will likely forever tie his legacy to that of Donald Trump. All of them were in defiance of Barr's duty, as the country's chief law-enforcement officer, to foster public faith in the American criminal-justice system by acting as apolitically as possible. All of them echoed the political messaging of Donald Trump.

Trump's loyalist attorney general, William Barr, was on Face the Nation this morning to do what he does: betray his oath of office and the nation while lying to the American public to protect Donald Trump from consequences. ... 
It is evident that we will not see William Barr testify under oath—about this or anything else—until the Trump administration has ended and he has lost all power to refuse such testimony. At this point he is involved in perhaps a dozen scandals, all revolving around his attempts to block public knowledge of Trump's various corrupt or Constitution-breaking acts. His Justice Department has become a tool only for exonerating Trump's allies and punishing Trump's opponents. 
The one true thing we can take from all of this is that even William Barr, a devoted fascist, is aware that last Monday's attack crossed a line that not even a president is allowed to cross. Donald Trump is not allowed to beat, gas and drive out clergy on private church property or an adjacent park for the sole purpose of commandeering church property for a photo shoot. Both Trump and Barr believed he was, when the order was given; only days later did Barr realize that the country was not following him into his new definition of our laws.

Matt Ford, "Bill Barr's Invisible Crusade: Trump's attorney general sees himself as a grand cultural inquisitor":

Barr frames himself as part of a spiritually driven mobilization to reshape American political life, one that seeks to extend the executive branch's constitutional powers into the service of a higher calling. Barr sees himself not as the bagman for a corrupt president, but as the disciple of a fading legal and moral order—one in which unbounded executive power goes hand in hand with a sacred mandate to preserve the nation's Christian culture from secular degeneration.

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