I hate to be cliché, but I’m going to tell you a proverb you’ve probably already heard a hundred or so times.
There was a frog, and he saw this pot of boiling water and said to himself, “I’m not going there. I’m not crazy.”
A few days later, he saw another pot of water, and it looked rather lukewarm. Since the frog wanted to take a quick dip, and he was far from his lily pad, he jumped in and started doing the backstroke.
It felt good and he thought, “this isn’t so bad after all.” As he was splashing around, he didn’t notice the water was getting warmer and warmer, until bubbles started popping around him. He was slowly becoming used to the heat, and ended up on somebody’s plate with a stalk of asparagus on his belly.
The moral of the story is that what seems shocking at the beginning becomes less and less shocking the longer we are exposed to it.
I felt a bit like that frog the other day, watching the news out of Georgia. The immediate past president was just charged with election interference by a grand jury.
The district attorney stood at the podium and, looking like a deer in headlights, announced that 19 ham sandwiches had been indicted. One of them was Donald Trump.
The first time the once-and-he-hopes-future-president was charged with paying hush money to a porn star by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, I was horrified. Then it happened again, when a federal grand jury issued a 37-count indictment against that same ex-president of hoarding, and concealing, classified documents.
By this point, I was disturbed but not as shocked and offended as I’d been a couple of months before.
The water was getting warmer, so to speak.
But it was only June.
Then, at the beginning of this month, a federal grand jury in Washington indicted the former president on charges of election interference in connection with the Jan. 6 riots.
Special Counsel Jack Smith comes out and makes a compelling statement about how Trump incited mayhem, forgetting to mention the part where the former president had asked his followers to “protest peacefully.”
The water, by this point, was scalding.
I didn’t see the bubbles, but that might have been because I was looking at Mika Brezinski’s face and trying to figure out how many more surgeries it would take before she ended up looking like a hammerhead shark.
Finally, last week, the world stopped and waited, and waited, and waited, until a grand jury in Georgia issued its own indictments on election interference.
And there I was, with third-degree burns and not even caring because I was used to the heat.
I can say that the Alvin Bragg and classified document cases are by far the weakest, because if we prosecuted every man who ever had a fling with a happy time girl and then tried to hide it to keep Mother from finding out, we would run out of court stenographers.
As for the classified documents, until I see Mike Pence and Joe Biden in horizontal stripes, I’m not worrying about the likelihood of any conviction on that front.
What I am interested in is the way that Americans seem inured to the very real dangers of piling on prosecutions of men who may have been unethical, amoral and annoying, but whose conduct does not justify the onslaught of what now looks like political prosecutions.
It is possible that the ex-president engaged in actual election interference, although you have to prove intent. To me, the guy seems like he actually believed he’d won the election.
He is likely wrong, dead wrong.
But that subjective belief is not out of line when you consider that many other Americans agree with him.
They are not all Stepford voters.
I do not agree with the folks who are saying that this is the end of democracy and that our country is sinking into the same despotism that gave rise to Putin, Mao and Manuel Trujillo — look him up, he was a better-dressed Castro.
What I am saying is that it’s very dangerous when people start treating multiple, serial indictments of a former president as just another headline, or the story of the moment on cable.
This is serious stuff, something that has never before happened in this country, and as Arthur Miller wrote in “Death of a Salesman,” attention must be paid.
And unless these prosecutors really do have the evidence, and aren’t trying to engage in their own form of election interference, we, my nonamphibious friends, are cooked.
Copyright 2023 Christine Flowers, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at [email protected].