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GOODWIN Nation could be sleepwalking into second civil war

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Issued: 2018-10-07

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Opinion

By Michael Goodwin

October 6, 2018 | 9:03pm

And so our fiery national nightmare is over. For now.

But only a Pollyanna would think peace is about to break out across the bloody political and cultural battlefields. We are a long way from fixing what was shattered and retrieving what has been lost.

There were many causes and events on the long road that brought us to this low place, but a telling moment took place almost exactly two years ago. It was the final debate of the presidential campaign, held on Oct. 19, 2016.

Here is how The New York Times began its slanted coverage: “In a remarkable statement that seemed to cast doubt on American democracy, Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he might not accept the results of next month’s election if he felt it was rigged against him — a stand that Hillary Clinton blasted as ‘horrifying.’ ”

After noting that no modern president refused to accept election results, the paper quoted Clinton attacking Trump.

“Let’s be clear about what he is saying and what that means,” she said. “He is denigrating — he is talking down our democracy. And I am appalled that someone who is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that position.”

She added, “That is not the way our democracy works.”

Fast forward to now, and it is the height of irony — and hypocrisy — that Clinton and her supporters, including the Times, still refuse to accept the election’s outcome. It started with her flimsy claims of Russian collusion and continues uninterrupted, with the character assassination campaign against Brett Kavanaugh the latest example.

Thank God, the assassins were unsuccessful in preventing a superbly qualified jurist and widely respected man from joining the Supreme Court. But they did lasting damage to Kavanaugh’s reputation, his family, the court, the Senate and the entire country.

Willing to destroy any part of government they cannot corrupt with partisanship, members of the self-declared resistance are tearing America apart because the election didn’t go their way. They have unleashed a whirlwind of fanatical hate, with violence now routinely threatened and sometimes carried out.

There are no random events. It is a straight line from the unprecedented plot by President Barack Obama’s administration to infiltrate and wiretap the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016 to the scurrilous accusations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.

The probe by special counsel Robert Mueller has turned up nothing of significance against the president, yet it plods onward, searching for anything that would justify its existence.

In that context, it is beyond mildly interesting that a former FBI agent reportedly tried to pressure a friend of Christine Blasey Ford into changing her sworn statement to the Senate so it would support Ford’s charges against Kavanaugh. And one of Ford’s lawyers happens to be the lawyer for the fired former deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe.

Throw in the crooked James Comey’s drum-beating against Kavanaugh and the return of Obama to the campaign trail, and it’s clear the seamy efforts of the former administration are still going strong.

As the Kavanaugh catastrophe demonstrates, our nation is paying a heavy price for the unpatriotic attempts to abuse government power to try to pick a president, then undo the election. In a dangerous world where America has real enemies, efforts to undermine Trump’s legitimacy often align with the interests of foreign powers. John Kerry’s traitorous advice to Iran to wait for the next president are a prime example.

To be clear, what we just witnessed, and what we have seen for two years, is not a case of mere political differences, which the Founders recognized as inevitable and even desirable.

Instead, we face something more akin to the combustible climate historian Christopher Clark described as the origins of World War I. In his book, “The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914,” Clark illustrates how none of the great powers wanted war, but all felt free to escalate the build-up in the certainty that the other side would back down.

Something similar is happening here, and our nation could be sleepwalking into a second civil war. Even though justice and fairness prevailed this time, the stained confirmation process must serve as a wake-up alarm.

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