A gigantic ship, christened with so much promise, is on its maiden voyage. It’s billed as unsinkable, so much so that it’s almost blasphemous to even suggest this ship could sink, so much so that no one’s bothered to check if there are enough lifeboats.
But every Titanic has its iceberg, and now that doomed ship’s sister has met hers. She won’t sink right away, but when she does, not everyone will make it out alive.
So two rats have decided they’ll be the first ones out. But as they’re floating away on a piece of wreckage, the bigger rat realizes there isn’t enough room for both him and his smaller companion. What’s a rat to do?
To end this metaphor, the big rat is Donald Trump. The smaller rat is ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Titanic 2.0 is Trumpism. And the iceberg is the recent midterm elections, which saw Democrats take back the House of Representatives.
So, what’s a rat to do? Apparently, he would push his friend into the water and let him drown. But it’s only then that the big rat realizes, as he feels the ice-cold water lapping at his orange fur, that the smaller rat was balancing the piece of wood and keeping it afloat. With that balance gone, it’s tipping over.
Trump fired Sessions (excuse me, “requested his resignation” — Orwell would be proud) on Nov. 7, after it was clear the Democrats had won the House majority, but with millions of votes left to count.
This wasn’t ordinary staff turnover as a party takes stock of its losses and tries to plot a new strategy going forward. If it was, why didn’t Trump wait to see just how big those losses were? No, Trump got rid of Sessions because he no longer had any need for him; he took up too much room on the raft.
Trump wanted to fire Sessions from the moment the latter recused himself from any investigations into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia. He only waited until after the midterms because he felt the political fallout could damage Republicans. But Sessions was doomed from that moment, because he demonstrated the one thing Trump can’t bear in his underlings: loyalty to something other than Trump himself.
To be clear, the things Sessions is loyal to are abhorrent. He is loyal to a Christian fundamentalist world where men have absolute dominance over women’s bodies, where the existence of LGBTQIA+ individuals is denied, where the votes of minorities are suppressed and discrimination against them is tolerated by the government, and where his poisonous brand of Christianity is forced onto schools.
For all his support of “family values,” he instituted a policy that ripped children from their mothers’ arms and used the Bible to justify it. He belongs in Gilead of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” not the highest echelons of power in any democracy; and for that reason I am glad he is gone.
Sessions’ ideals are appalling, but he had ideals. And apparently one of them is that an investigation should not be overseen by someone with a conflict of interest. I don’t know which Bible verse he found to justify that, but in that moment he chose his ideals over Trump.
Trump has paid dearly for Sessions’ moment of humanity. Sessions’ recusal meant he could not stop the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which (at least, in Trump’s mind) poses an existential threat to his own presidency. On Nov. 7, Sessions paid dearly for it, too.
Except, he won’t pay as dearly as Trump might, now that Democrats have won the House, with no one to balance Trump’s self-destructive impulses and keep the wood afloat.
It was almost unbelievably stupid, for want of a better word, to remove Sessions after a Democratic takeover of the House. Democrats repeatedly promised to investigate Trump and his Russia ties if they won, and this is one more thing for them to probe.
Moreover, they might have a new star witness. As economist Paul Krugman tweeted, “[Trump] can tell federal officials not to talk — but he can’t tell private citizens, including fired prosecutors, not to testify when called by Congress.” Sessions’ treatment by Trump is just one more incentive for him to spill everything he knows.
Then there’s the political fallout if Mueller is removed by Sessions’ replacement. Trump will have made the same mistake as former President Richard Nixon in trying to obfuscate an investigation of a seemingly insignificant burglary attempt, and as former President Bill Clinton, who most definitely did not have sexual relations with that woman.
We don’t know what will be in Mueller’s final report. It might not implicate Trump himself, but Trump certainly isn’t behaving like he’s innocent. The scandal isn’t in the crime, but the cover-up. It might be safer, politically speaking, to just let Mueller finish.
So, what does this tell us about Trump and his ilk? That corrupt politicians are shockingly bad liars. Spend your life running from the people, and you don’t know what to do when they catch up to you.
To paraphrase Nixon, people have got to know if their president’s a crook; and they will hold their leaders accountable. Even if you’re the president, the American people can smell a rat.
Ben Reicher PO ‘22 is a contributing writer from Agoura Hills, CA. He joined his high school newspaper in ninth grade because he loved to argue, and hasn’t stopped since.