A Useless Press Conference

FBII was driving today, so I got to listen to the entire press conference about the arrest of Cesar Sayoc — the man suspected of sending pipe bombs to a number of Trump critics. What most struck me was just how useless the press conference was.

Jeff Sessions

It all started badly with Jeff Sessions giving a “can’t we all just get along” speech without a hint of irony. This is the way it will be with Republicans. In fact, before the press conference, NPR interviewed two political consultants: a female Republican and a male Democrat. And she, of course, brought up Maxine Waters who told Democrats to harass Trump Cabinet officials in public.

The Democrat pushed back and said that Waters specifically talked about making it uncomfortable for people in the Trump administration to go out to dinner. In other words: putting a social cost on working for Trump. She specifically wasn’t calling for violence. And Trump has specifically called for violence.

The Republican backed-down and claimed that she did not mean to make the two sides equivalent. But if that’s the case, what was she doing? She was trying to give Republicans cover by misrepresenting what Democrats have been saying!

During the same segment, Sessions was applauded for the way he dealt with the matter. But this is totally backward. Sessions is simply trying to remove politics from this clearly political act. And that’s what you would expect because it the Republican Party that has been pushing this kind of violence. In other words: the best political move for the Republicans is to claim that this is not political. Sessions isn’t being a statesman; he’s being a good Republican Party soldier.

Self-Congratulations From Law Enforcement

The law-enforcement officers who spoke were the same way. They didn’t want to get into the politics of it because this was just a law-enforcement matter.

But their bigger mission was to congratulate themselves. There was endless repetition of “The work our people did was amazing” and “The American people should all unite in thanking the FBI for its amazing work in this case.”

But the one bit of information that was helpful in the press conference undercut this: they found the suspect because he left a fingerprint on the envelope that he sent to Maxine Waters.

In other words: this wasn’t amazing work by the FBI and others. Apparently, Cesar Sayoc left his fingerprint on the envelope. And even then, the FBI would not have found him had Sayoc not had a criminal history and thus had his fingerprints on file.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure that the FBI has done a professional job with this investigation. But this is not cunning investigational work. Any law enforcement agency would have found this guy. I see nothing that should make Americans especially proud of the work in this case. Indeed, if the FBI had not found this guy quickly, it would have been an indication that we desperately needed reform at the FBI.

Press Conference Was Supposed to Be Useless

I was struck by the fact that the press conference started with the FBI saying that they were not going to comment on the investigation nor the suspect. I thought right then: why are you having a press conference?! After all, that is the information that the people want.

But they didn’t live up to that. They told us a number of things about the investigation like the fingerprint on the envelope. It seems that they simply weren’t going discuss anything that might make the president or his party look bad.

And that makes me think that the government is going to do everything it can to let this whole thing blow over before having to admit that the Republican with all the pro-Trump, pro-Republican, and anti-CNN bumper stickers on his car is, in fact, guilty.

Standing Up for the Rule of Law

One thing Session discussed was that America stands up for the rule of law. That was an interesting claim, because when it comes to criminal behavior by Donald Trump, neither the administration nor the Republican Congress nor even Republican voters believe in the rule of law.

And this whitewash of a press conference is part of this. Had it been a Clinton supporter sending out pipe bombs to Republicans, I’m sure we would hear a lot more — even things that weren’t true.

Elections do have consequences. We see that more clearly now than ever. But at least when Barack Obama was elected, the people knew what they were voting for. Although Trump voters are largely okay with holding the president above the law now, I know that’s not what they voted for.

5 replies on “A Useless Press Conference”

  1. FDChief says:

    “Although Trump voters are largely okay with holding the president above the law now, I know that’s not what they voted for.”

    Ummm…I think that Trump voters voted to bury liberals and blacks and homos in a shallow grave. They may not have SAID that, but the path they started to walk in November 2016 leads there. It ALWAYS leads there, when you elect people who promise to give you physical power over the lives of others. To do that Trump and their GOP leaders HAVE to be above the law, since the ideal of the U.S. is “equal justice under law”. And they didn’t want “equal justice”; that’s Obama, and they had eight years of hating THAT shit. THAT’s what they voted for; giving their proxies the unlawful power to – or the power to change the laws to MAKE it lawful to – harm their enemies.

    The single biggest difference between “Trump voters” – that is, the radical reactionaries who pretend to be “conservatives” – and the rest of the country is that that rest, the fractional majority, largely wants to be left alone to do what they believe. The Trumpkins want those people to do what the TRUMPKINS believe. And be punished if they don’t.

    That’s why they’re fascists. And that’s why there’s no way in hell the GOP wants to really talk about this guy. Because he (and the Proud Boys, and the Stormfront loonies, and the “fine people” with the tiki torches) are the logical endpoint of their rhetoric; someone who will gleefully kill you because you aren’t really one of Us. And if you’re not, then you’re simply an obstacle to be removed. By violence if you don’t have the power, but by “law” if you can change the laws to make them reflect your hatreds.

    It’s really simple.
    The GOP must be destroyed.

    • James Fillmore says:

      I think it’s fair to categorize Trump’s most fannish supporters that way. There’s also fundamentalist Christians, who basically see every Republican candidate as getting us all closer to the Second Coming, and the wealthy, who’d happily vote for Mussolini if he lowered their taxes. (Obviously the Venn diagram of those three groups has considerable overlap!)

      The type Frank’s talking about, I believe, is the proverbial “low-information voter.” Someone who isn’t particularly into politics, and gets most of their impression about candidates/policies based on what people they know are saying. Not necessarily dumb — some are quite intelligent and experienced in other areas — but very susceptible to dubious information where politics are concerned.

      These people don’t want rank bigotry, corruption and criminal behavior in office. But they’ll listen to those who call those accounts “liberal lies.” And then just assume “both sides do it.” So they’ll get screwed by voting Republican, every time.

      I do think there are fewer of this sort than there used to be (and more of the outright fascists). They tend to be older, and as such are slipping away. Whereas the fascists can come from almost any age group, alas.

      • FDChief says:

        That may have been a small number of Republican voters in 2016, the apocryphal “economically anxious” white people who liked Trump because he would “shake things up” and “drain the swamp”. They WERE “low information”, given that you didn’t have to be a crack investigative reporter to know about Trump’s scam “university” and his shiking his contractors and his bankruptcies. Or his racism – the Central Park Five stuff was all over the news in 2016, just not as much as “her emails” was…

        But even those people had a choice; once they saw that he is what he is they could have backed away from him the way you’d back away from a rabid raccoon; slowly, keeping an eye on the crazed beast while reaching for some heavy object to club it to death.

        They haven’t. Given the choice between embracing fascism and its attendant horrors, and holding their nose and voting for Democrats…they’re all in on Trump. The needle has barely moved; 35-40% of the US public is STILL inside the GOP.

        So it’s still really simple;
        The GOP MUST be destroyed.

        • James Fillmore says:

          Right, we’re talking about a very small number of people, here. But you swing that very small number, Gore wins, Hillary wins.

          I’m thinking electoral strategy, how do we stop the fascists. On a moral level, you’re absolutely right, the GOP is evil, no question, no doubt.

          Neither Gore nor Hillary are my ideal Presidents. But they’re both preferable to Bush or Trump, as I’m sure you’d agree.

          Can we swing a few voters? I think so. Otherwise, what the duck are we talking about?

        • James Fillmore says:

          Right, we’re talking about a very small number of people, here. But you swing that very small number, Gore wins, Hillary wins.

          I’m thinking electoral strategy, how do we stop the fascists. On a moral level, you’re absolutely right, the GOP is evil, no question, no doubt.

          Neither Gore nor Hillary are my ideal Presidents. But they’re both preferable to Bush or Trump, as I’m sure you’d agree.

          Can we swing a few voters? I think so. Otherwise, what the duck are we talking about?

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