Powerful people do not get there by being nice guys. Especially not in Washington.
They achieve their positions kill by kill, and most of the time, they either eat or bury their prey. They usually value power above party or country, and they are masters of the political and legislative processes, with myriad, deep relationships in multiple channels (and back-channels) throughout government.
As much as he might like to think otherwise, and as much as his fawning minions might encourage him in such a conceit, Donald Trump is no match for such people.
He takes office having insulted and offended many of them, including a number of very senior figures in his own (albeit adopted) Republican Party. Whether or not they aspire to the office he will now hold, those he has disrespected and disparaged will not forget it, and most of them will exact retribution in some form at some point.
Complicating matters for him is his denigration of the entire intelligence community, which is a cohort of exceptional people with unique skills and abilities who generally value country not only first, but also above party affiliation. They also are typically more interested in the effective application of power in the national interest than in amassing it for personal gain.
When Richard Nixon was brought down, it was by exactly such people – within his own party — but the amazing thing is how little time it took. The arrests at the Watergate that really kicked things off took place on June 9, 1972. Nixon resigned on August 8, 1974.
In between, there was a non-stop flurry of events, ranging from Nixon’s re-election on November 11, 1972, to the formation of the now-legendary Watergate Committee, which began holding televised hearings on May 18, 1973, and the Saturday Night Massacre on October 20, 1973, when Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox and both Attorney General Elliott Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resigned. On July 27, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee passed the first three articles of impeachment, charging Nixon with obstruction of justice.
All things considered, that’s a whole lot of action in a very short period of time – and those are just a few of the highlights.
And here’s what really makes the story amazing: there was no Internet, no email, no Google, no Twitter. But even without such technology, the historically slow-moving gears of government worked to remove a sitting president in just over two years.
Imagine how quickly it could happen today…