Commentary, National Commentary

Editor’s Column: As Putin’s ‘Helter Skelter’ Flummoxes Washington

As I sit writing this on Wednesday night, January 4, this week, after an unprecedented six full rounds of balloting in the House failed to deliver the majority needed by Rep. Kevin McCarthy to become the Speaker of the House, alternative scenarios for what might happen next are swirling around like frenzied phantoms on All Saints Eve (thinking Fantasia’s Night of Bald Mountain). Things may have simmered down by the time this gets into print, but who knows?


Right now, what seemed impossible as this process began only a couple days ago is now appearing a more reasonable outcome. That would involve McCarthy cutting a deal with Democrats for some form of shared leadership in exchange for enough votes to win.


It would be a stupendous setback for the Republicans, and there’s reason to believe it would never fly on either side, but it could develop into their only option in the face of a hardcore within the Republican party that appears resolved to prefer political gridlock to any reasonable outcome.


Yes, these are those post-reason, post-truth Republicans who played big roles in everything that led up to the barely-failed insurrection and coup attempt of two years ago. Among their masterminds is the formidable Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, whose pedigree now reads right out of a Russian spy expose.


This tight clique of pro-Moscow Republicans may be spoiling for a gridlock that could cripple the nation as much as their ally Donald Trump did his best to achieve during his four sad years in the White House.
Their game is all about “helter skelter,” not serious governing, or governing at all.


We are reminded that Sen. Paul’s aide, one Jesse Benton (no relation, I hope), was found guilty in November of laundering millions of dollars from Russia to the Trump campaign.


While the work of the House January 6 Committee was remarkable, and proved beyond any doubt Trump’s responsibility for the events of January 6, 2021, it also did not take up some of the incredibly important deeper threads that fed into that day, and that have continued to define the greatest threat to the ongoing functioning of democracy in this land.


One critical line of inquiry they did not explore involved the way in which key intelligence and law enforcement agencies failed to be activated on that day, something that former chief of the Capitol Police, Steven A. Sund, documents in a book out this week, entitled, “Courage Under Fire, Under Siege and Outnumbered 58 to 1 on January 6.”


As stated by Washington Post reporter Carol D. Leonnig in her review of that book published Monday, “The federal government’s multi-billion dollar security network, built after 9/11 to gather intelligence that would warn of a looming attack, provided no such shield on Jan. 6, former Capitol Police chief Steven A. Sund writes in a new book.” She added that Sund warns “it could easily happen again.”


“It’s a response I will never forget for the rest of my life,” Sund writes.


Hey, if this was simply a Trump thing, then why were the Secret Service (with its days of illegally deleted text messages) and other critical agencies sitting on their hands through it all?


Equally enigmatic, of course, is failure to take into account the role of a sworn foreign enemy of the U.S., Moscow.


The Mueller Report of 2018 did a remarkable job documenting how Putin and Moscow influenced the Trump administration and its policies, aimed at weakening the U.S. But for whatever reason (we can only imagine), it was not just Trump but powerful forces around him, including Fox News and Tucker Carlson, who were effective in discrediting the Mueller Report, centering on the single incident of peeing prostitutes in Moscow contained in the Christopher Steele memo in the effort to discredit the entire Steele dossier and Mueller report.


The fingerprints of Putin are all over everything that did and continues to unfold to create “helter skelter” in Washington.


My own account of incidents leading up to it all, The January 6, 2021 Capital Sacking: Putin’s Role, remains an invaluable source for getting to the bottom of it all, and needs to be the basis for a major investigation.