A few weeks ago, Senate Republicans decided to acquit Mr. T of his disturbing acts of treason. If popular justice prevails, their actions will be remembered as acts of pure cowardice. This was their chance to defend an independent government, and they’ve spun it away for reasons either too corrupt or too short-sighted to recount with any level of honesty or seriousness.
Some Republicans assured that Mr. T had learned his lesson and wouldn’t accidentally commit treason again. He certainly had learned something. Our Prez answered his acquittal with a purge of the National Security Council, went on to demand a re-investigation into the trials of other allies, such as Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. Attorney General Barr, attempted to position himself against Mr. T across the press, but we’ve yet to see significant action taken to curtail his attack on government. These Palace Politics are being staged at a convenient time. Trumps assault comes when national leaders are unable to mount significant defense against a public distracted by electoral politics in the Democratic Primary.
While these coups and bureaucratic counter-insurgencies are distinct, they have happened before. Any honest investigation of American history will unearth an endless stream of dumbfounding assaults on independent governance; but one of my favorites is the Nixon’s Shadow Coup in 1968.
In order to secure his election for President, candidate Richard Nixon and his strongest Doughy Mystery Man, Henry Kissinger, received aide from political groups and business leaders interested in sustaining the Vietnam War. These groups, aided or prompted to action by the Nixon Campaign, worked to sabotage a tentative peace deal between North and South Vietnam negotiated by the Johnson Administration. Upon uncovering this treasonous act, an exasperated President Johnson attempted to game out a response. Realizing he had limited political space to challenge Nixon’s comeuppance, Johnson retreated and relented, accepting that treason had been deftly carried out under his watch. Eventually, Nixon would realize electoral victory and carry out a populist-right invasion of the Government.
This was always a fascinating political story for me, and I put this arrangement together last summer to capture this political event. The arrangement uses some basic samples pulled from my sound-cube, but my contributions are mostly simple beats. Original sounds were made using operators on Ableton. I also have a variety of samples of rattlesnakes, for some reason, so I decided to throw some of them in. The snake rattles are quite devious; a sort of restrained threat. Ultimately, I found that these sounds fit nicely within the context of Johnson’s call. He talks himself up to his subordinate, but in the end comes to realize that he has no real power, giving in to the Shadow Coup that subverted the Democratic process.
I’ve promised myself that I will go back and really clean up this track someday, but I think a general story gets across. The ending sort of tapers out. You might guess that I just ran out of energy and patience to properly complete this (…fair), but the strange ending might be considered a metaphor for the political condition of Johnson. This story is rarely known in popular discourse, and Johnson never saw a gratifying end to this treason. Opting to keep it secret from the public, you can hear the desperation and lament in his voice as he realizes he cannot save himself or the country from Nixon’s plot treason. Like my track, he ran out of time, energy, and will.
I wonder if any Republican legislators, or government officials, feel as Johnson does at this time. Realizing they are witnessing brazen impropriety but lack the political spin or dexterity to stop it. But where Johnson’s plight is observed with sympathy (his Great Society programs – even if limited – represented an honest attempt to improve and build on American society), Republicans and the nationalist government they serve deserve no similar concern. Their rule has made no clear improvement or expansion of American society in any positive or meaningful way. Tax cuts for the wealthy, children in cages, explosions of xenophobic hate, polluted back-roads, fake news; a legacy of cruelty enabled by cowards and best, tinpot Fascists at worst.