Dear Dallas Republicans, Two Words. Trump. Hawk. Coincidence?

Republicans. If you want to dismiss me as an ignorant hippie libtard, I will understand. You have your reasons. Sometimes I look in the mirror myself in the morning and silently mouth, “Oh shut up, you ignorant hippie libtard.” But I urge you to believe that my question today is sincere and that I care about you.

Is there any meaningful parallelism between what you seem to be telling me on the national scene about your presidential candidate and what I hear you saying here locally about the Republican district attorney?

Your national leaders are telling me not to pay any attention to certain things about your presidential candidate that, frankly, are very hard not to pay attention to. In Dallas, your local leaders want me to overlook some things about the district attorney that are just getting harder and harder to overlook.

Is it mere coincidence? Or is it synchronicity — what the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung called “meaningful coincidence?”

The current New York Times Magazine has a piece about Trump by Mark Leibovich in which he counts down some of the more notable and colorful things national Republican figures have said about Trump. Leibovich’s point is that the things prominent Republicans are saying about Trump are way outside the parameters.

Very disturbing was Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s statement that he wouldn’t trust Trump with the nuclear codes, by which he means Trump might blow up the planet for no good reason. Blowing up the planet for no good reason would seem like enough, but Rubio also has piled on by calling Trump a “fraud,” “con man” and “lunatic.”

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has described Trump as a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.” Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called him a “madman who must be stopped.” Former Texas Governor Rick Perry said Trump was a “barking carnival act” (before Governor Oops sucked up to him to get a vice presidential nod).

As awful as some of those remarks have been and as far beyond the pale in terms of normal political dialogue, for some reason the one that sticks in my own mind even more painfully is Jindal’s suggestion that Trump looks like “he’s got a squirrel sitting on his head.”

I guess Jindal was being funny. But unfortunately once an image like that really has taken root in my mind, trying to think of the same person as president of the United States feels like a dangerous test of my own sanity.

So, on the topic of disorder, we come to the case of the local district attorney, Susan Hawk, who this week for the fourth time since she became a candidate and then was elected to office less than two years ago has checked herself into a mental health treatment facility, this time only a week after leaving the last one. 

As in the past, Hawk’s official statement, probably written by a Republican consultant, cast her decision to institutionalize herself in the glow of brave public service. She said one of her reasons for committing herself a fourth time in less than two years was her desire “to encourage others living with similar struggles to be proactive in treatment and not live in shame.”

The night she made her announcement, I had dinner with an attorney who said he thought few people appreciate that the district attorney holds the most powerful elected office in the county. I do know, because I know that a reporter can spend months compiling irrefutable evidence of a person’s criminality, then ask the DA why he or she refuses to seek an indictment, only to be told honestly, “Because I don’t feel like it.”

The office of DA is one of those full-stop points in the local power structure. The person holding that office can say, “I rule that your traffic accident was an indictable homicide.” Or not. And there you have it.

During Hawk’s previous absences from the wheelhouse, local Republican leaders have promised the public that her office can run on autopilot without her, which is transparently absurd. Sure, it can run on autopilot, if the case in question is completely noncontroversial.

But tee up a high profile case — one that is highly charged because of politics, fame or notoriety — and no one else can or will take a swing at it until the elected official gets back from wiggy camp. That’s just in the nature of politics and real life, and everybody knows it.

At least until a case gets kicked, settled or into court, if you or a loved one is either the accused or the victim in a crime, you are riding on an airplane on which the elected DA is the pilot. The legal process is life and death for you, so try to imagine the ongoing saga of Susan Hawk in those life and death terms:

“Ladies and gentleman, the copilot has asked me to announce that the pilot is taking a brief lie-down because of a bout of depression. Let’s have a round of applause for her courage in openly confronting this problem.
“OK, wait. It looks like she’s back at the stick. A brief round of applause, please. Well, now, wait, wait … looks like she’s taking another lie-down. Yes, but, she’s rallying. Back at the controls now. No, sadly, another lie-down is needed.”

I don’t know about you, but about then I’ve got my seat bottom belted to my belly and I’m looking for an unwary person to drag out of the exit seat. A very weak person.

The parallelism or, if you will, the synchronicity here is between the national scene, where Republican leaders have told us in no uncertain language that Trump is a dangerous barking-mad bigot with a squirrel on his head but have asked us to vote for him anyway, and the local scene, where they keep telling us that Hawk’s serial trips to the treatment center will have no effect on her ability to continue to serve as the district attorney.

So, Republicans, I just have to ask: Do you see any parallels? You can take this opportunity, if you wish, to unload on Hillary, and as a matter of fact I won’t totally disagree. I really hate her regime-change hawkery and the grungy alliances with all the usual suspects. But I still find a major difference between your party and my own.

Bernie at his most vehement never said anything like the remarks about nuclear codes or the squirrel on the head. Hawk’s Democratic predecessor had his flaws, but he wasn’t in and out of places euphemistically described as “facilities.”

What’s more, if Hillary did parade around with a squirrel on her head or former Dallas County DA Craig Watkins did keep running in and out of rehab, I don’t believe Democratic leaders would have asked me to ignore it or expected me to vote for those persons. Democrats would have been able to pull the pins from under those candidates if for no reason other than that they would have been able to find somebody else to run.

Is that your synchronicity, maybe?

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze