A Capone Presidency

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was interviewed by Brian Williams and Nicole Wallace on MSNBC, and he said this about the modern Republican Party.

“Right now, it’s the party of Trump. He’s the Republican nominee for president of the United States and gotten more votes than any Republican candidate for president in our history, and with 16 opponents. So, it’s the party of Trump.”

By now, we’re familiar with some of what that means. For example, it means scenes like this one at a recent rally in Asheville, North Carolina where a 69 year old woman with an oxygen tank was punched in the face for telling Trump supporters to learn Russian.

I don’t know if you’re fully familiar, however, with Trump’s philosophy for how to deal with rivals and opponents.

trumpthemafiosa

To me, that is more reminiscent of a scene from The Untouchables than anything else.

Eliot Ness: I want to get Capone! I don’t know how to do it.

Jimmy Malone: You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way! And that’s how you get Capone.

Maybe it takes a New York real estate developer to realize that to deal with mafiosi you have to behave like a mafioso.

This is something that has been reported in a more straightforward way, for example, most recently by the (hardly liberal) Wall Street Journal. And, in fairness, it wasn’t possible to build tall buildings in Manhattan or casinos in Atlantic City without having to interact with the Sicilian mob. Trump has acknowledged this even as he’s been much less than forthcoming about the extent of his mob ties.

What I think is more important than the fact that he got his hands dirty over the years is that he learned to operate just like the gangsters he was lavishing with “$1.65 million via gifts of expensive cars quickly converted into cash.”

And, he actually had a piece of wisdom about these dealings that the American voter should take to heart:

“When you have those relationships, in the end, you lose,” Trump told the Journal. “You can solve some problems short term, but long term, you’ve got a disaster.”

So far, Trump seems to prefer lawyers and lawsuits to knives and guns as his weapons of choice. But, how exactly would a president screw the people who “mess with him” fifteen times harder? How would President Trump go about “showing people who are watching what will happen to them” if they cross him?

Instead of high-priced lawyers, he’d have the entire Justice Department and the FBI at his disposal. And that’s just for starters. Nixon discovered that he could utilize the IRS, authorize black-bag jobs, break-ins, and even arson, compile an enemies list and hire former CIA officers to carry out the missions.

So, is this really what the GOP is now? The party of small government and civil liberties is going to rally behind a Godfather that operates with all the nuance and subtlety of John Gotti and that embraces an ethic of not hesitating to go for the jugular?

I mean, sometimes these disastrous leaders tell you what they intend to do in their books and you look back later on, after all the carnage, and you wonder why no one took what they wrote seriously.

I think Trump has told us how he intends to operate as president. The only question is whether the American public will understand this sufficiently before they vote.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.