Oh no Adam Laxalt is sad

how thrilled
Photo posted by Adam Laxalt on his Facebook page when Donald Trump came to Las Vegas to campaign for Nevada Republicans last year.

Asked “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today,” the top answer in a recent Gallup poll was “the government/poor leadership.”

The poll’s finding furrowed the normally unsullied brow of Adam Laxalt (of the Virginia Laxalts) and triggered Young Master Adam to reach for the smelling salts with one hand and clutch his pearls in the other, rhetorically: 

“It seems the Democrats’ impeachment games aren’t doing much to restore public confidence in government are they?” Laxalt tweeted, clearly saddened by today’s rough and tumble political fisticuffs.

Assuming Laxalt’s analysis differs from all else comprising the Laxalt Weltanschauung, which is to say assuming it has merit, and the impeachment inquiry is causing confidence in government to decline, why on earth would Laxalt care?

Laxalt’s party has spent most of the last seven decades, and especially the last four, declaring government and everything it does is horrible (military adventurism and incarcerating people who aren’t white excepted). 

If public confidence in government is waning, Laxalt shouldn’t be whining. He should be ordering a giant star-spangled “Mission Accomplished” banner to adorn next year’s annual Adam Laxalt & Friends wingnuts/lambnuts picnic.

Besides, if there is one phenomenon that more than any other is responsible for an erosion of public confidence in the U.S. government, it’s not the Democrats and their “impeachment games.” It’s the person whose reelection campaign Laxalt is pleased to chair in Nevada, Donald Trump.

Neither time nor space allows for a complete inventory here of the countless actions, inactions, insults, blunders, accusations, lies, corruption, tantrums, more lies, inanities, racist taunts, and yet more lies constituting Trump’s non-stop misconduct that has disgraced the U.S. and eroded public confidence in its government, both at home and abroad.

But for the nonce, let’s list a few.

Trump, visibly submissive to an alpha male, as is his custom, cowered before Vladimir Putin at a summit in Helsinki last year, and said he trusted the thug, thief and murderer more than he trusted U.S. intelligence agencies. John McCain, in a statement issued from his death bed, said “no prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.” The Wall Street Journal, evidently a bastion of “radical socialism,” as Laxalt and Trump might say, called Trump’s “kowtow to the Kremlin” a “national embarrassment.” Laxalt can’t bring himself to blame Trump for undermining public confidence in the current government. Perhaps he’d be more comfortable blaming McCain and the WSJ.

Though one wouldn’t know it from Trump’s snarling gibberish, both verbal and tweeted, Congress is an actual and equal branch of the U.S. government. Throughout his time (especially “executive time”) occupying the White House, Trump has never passed an opportunity to trash Congress. While he’s reserved his most despicable and deplorable attacks for members of Congress who are people of color, and even more especially if they are women of color, he’s also even attacked congressional white males, of both parties. Congress has long had the lowest approval rating of the three branches of government. Trump’s blatant hatred for the institution, to paraphrase Laxalt, isn’t doing much to restore public confidence in government is it?

Has Trump also deliberately tried to undermine public confidence in the courts? Let us count the ways. OK, let us not — again, neither time nor space. Suffice it to say that Trump’s reckless attacks on judges are worrisome enough to the judiciary that one of Trump’s outbursts prompted an exceedingly rare development indeed, a public rebuke from the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Alas, the rebuke only came from John Roberts, as opposed to someone Trump deeply respects and admires like Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kim Jong-un, or Mohammed bin Salman, so Trump didn’t care, and continues to attempt to discredit judges at every opportunity. You might think Laxalt, an attorney (a “train wreck” of one, but still) and a former Nevada attorney general, might be concerned about Trump undermining public confidence in those who have reached the pinnacle of the legal profession. You would be wrong.

In the executive branch, the branch in which Trump, drainer of swamps, “serves,” Trump hasn’t instilled public confidence. But he has installed crackpots and rogues. From Michael Flynn, who left the administration less than two weeks after Trump’s inauguration to spend more time with his criminal defense attorneys, to Rick Perry, who resigned last week to brush up on the Ukrainian energy industry, Trump’s cabinet has been a revolving door of corruption and incompetence. Roughly half the key positions currently in the administration (using that term very loosely) are in an “acting” capacity, i.e., temps. For Laxalt, who after all penned a gushing endorsement of a man who would become the most scandal-plagued EPA director in that agency’s history, the Trump organization’s daily assault on trustworthy, credible governance must be particularly distressing. Except of course it isn’t.

Back in B.C. (before the chaos), Trump launched his political career by what would become a staple of his presidency — embracing inane and racist conspiracy theories — and tried to convince the American people that their president was illegitimate because he was born in Kenya. In other words, even before he became part of the U.S. government, Trump was undermining it.

But Laxalt, being Laxalt and all, is pretending to be concerned that the “impeachment games,” not Trump, are undermining confidence in the government.

Congress’s approval rating has been consistently abysmal for ages, and has even dipped into single digits on occasion. But the Gallup poll, the one our sensitive Young Master Adam would like us to believe vexes him so, found public approval of Congress has actually increased in the month since Nancy Pelosi declared the “impeachment games” officially open. An objective observer, that is, someone who will never be Adam Laxalt, might even suggest the first and most crucial step on the long, hard road toward restoring public confidence in government would be to hold to account the person currently at its head.

If and when Democrats bring impeachment charges, the evidence will be presented, and the case tried, in the Republican-controlled Senate (the place Laxalt spends most of his waking hours jonesing to be). Trump’s defenders there will have ample opportunity to make the case that preserving and protecting Trump’s presidency instead of the Constitution will be the real remedy to address Laxalt’s concern and “restore public confidence in government.”

And by “public,” Trump’s defenders only mean Trump’s supporters.

Laxalt (and his handlers; absent evidence to the contrary one should assume every political and public act of Laxaltness, from his tweets to his pictures with Giuliani’s Russian financed henchmen to deciding who he will run against and when, is vetted by Sheldon Adelson’s minions) is of course both a Trump defender and supporter. And while so many Republicans secretly wish Trump would disappear, but are too cowardly to say so, Laxalt seems the sort of callow fellow whose blind adoration of and unquestioning faith in Trump and Trumpism may be genuine and sincere.

In a way, that speaks rather well of Young Master Adam, because it indicates an enormous capacity for forgiveness.

After all, if not for Trump, Laxalt would be Nevada’s governor today.

Maybe it’s not forgiveness. Maybe Laxalt has just let Trump play him for a chump.

In either case, the damage Trump has inflicted on the nation is deep, ugly, and a good deal of it may be irreversible. It’s Laxalt, far more than Democrats, who has responded to this critical moment in the nation’s history by playing “games,” games of petty, shallow gambits and gimmicks calculated to advance his fledgling political career.

As Laxalt’s beloved leader might say, Sad.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.