A note about Our Previous President and the Documents in Question: There has been a lot of discussion that is more or less summed up with “what possible innocent reason could there be for keeping the documents?” Or even more generally—what possible reason, innocent or not, could make it seem like a good idea to keep documents not only on leaving office, but after being told that the appropriate law-enforcement agencies knew that he had them and required their return.
I have been seeing three reasons, or categories of reasons, discussed, and I’ll go through them before I make my point (I do have a point this time), but I’ll also give my usual warning that we can’t actually know what someone else’s True Motive is, and people often have a wild mishmash of motives and impulses for their poor decisions rather than an actual True Motive discernible even to themselves.
First, of course, is the Toddler President explanation, which is also the easiest to believe and most persuasive. He just didn’t want to give them up. They were his (he thought) and someone wanted to him to share, and he didn’t wanna and (he thought) they couldn’t make him. Wrong on both counts, of course, but still: very plausible.
The second is the Art of the Deal explanation, which like all the Art of the Deal explanations of his actions, does not require there to be any actual Deal, just the possibility of a Deal in his mind. This might be a plan to sell documents as if they were game-used jerseys or vintage movie costumes, or it might be an idea that they could be used to impress future resort members or bank lenders or business partners. I group all of those nonsense possibilities under the notion that keeping documents leads to cash profits, with a middle step to be determined. Totally plausible, if deeply stupid.
And the third is, well, treason—that Our Previous President is actively working for someone, whether for pay or under compulsion or from ideology or whatever, and that someone wants him to keep those documents. This is utterly implausible, both because there is no evidence that the man is actively working for anyone at all, or that anyone at all wants him to work for them, but also because it’s extremely difficult to construct a scenario where an evildoer demands of a President that he keep originals of documents rather than demanding he hand over the information within the documents without alerting anyone by removing the documents themselves. I suppose the man in question could have misunderstood and kept the originals out of some sort of imbecilic zeal… or that the instructions were just to screw around with stuff and make general trouble and the document stuff is just one random, easy way to do that? I dunno. Honestly, it seems like “Get a Toddler President elected and then just watch and improvise” would be a better plan for enemies of our nation than giving any direct, specific requests.
Anyway, my point (remember that I have one) is that those three categories of reasons are pretty much the only ones I am seeing discussed, either in my usual liberal-left social circles or in the liberal-left news media that crosses my path. And it’s missing the most important possible motivation—something that is key to the future of the country, in a way that even the putative subornation of the President by an evildoer really wouldn’t be. And I have to ask before I go on: do you see it? Is it obvious to you?
OK, it’s this: he believes (or at least claims to, and acts as if he believes) that he was elected President twice in a landslide, the second by even wider margin than the first; that his electoral victory in 2020 was stolen by the federal government, conspiring with his political opponents and foreign elements; that the FBI and DoJ have been persecuting him since he started getting involved in politics, possibly earlier, illegally spying on his campaign before the election and then concocting hoax after hoax during his time in office, all of which have been conclusively exposed as false; that the FBI and DoJ have also been covering up the palpable crimes of his political opponents including (but not limited to) members of the Clinton and Biden families; that he is the legitimately elected President of the United States; that he can be, ought to be, and probably will be restored to power soon; that the current occupant of the White House, in addition to being illegitimate, unelected and corrupt is also a doddering imbecile who can barely stand upright and only emerges from a fog of senility when medicated by his handlers; that in general, the federal government of the United States of America is the least trustworthy possible place for any sensitive documents. That handing highly classified documents to the FBI would be irresponsible and dangerous for the security of the United States. That he, the legitimate President of the United States, is the best person to control such documents and make decisions about them, and that he has the right and the responsibility to do so.
Of course, if he were just one person who believed such ridiculous nonsense, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But it’s the belief of—who knows? A quarter of the country? A third? Many millions of people, anyway. That is the most important context of the Documents in Question, and it’s my impression that the news (outside of the Party-affiliated news) and all of us in the liberal-left coalition have trouble keeping in our heads. A large chunk of the country believes that Our Previous President is more trustworthy than all the rest of the institutions of government—that’s not some sort of fringe idea, but a very mainstream one. And if those of us who are aware that it’s nonsense just ignore that it’s a mainstream idea, then we’re not going to understand what’s going on in the country.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,