Esquire - November 15, 2019
"He was an A-level predator in the jungle politics that also produced Karl Rove and Lee Atwater, the jungle politics that many Nice Republicans would rather not talk about now that the rot and decay has taken the ground under their feet. The Republican Party was perfectly happy with Roger Stone for as long as it needed his gifts for the dark arts. Now he’s caught, and he’s going to be punished, and he’s going to experience what nihilism is really like. I’d like not to be quite this happy about someone his age going to prison, but I know that his fundamental crimes against democracy will be forever unatoned."
Professional ratfcker Roger Stone, a blight on American politics for five decades, has fcked his last rat. On Friday, during a recess in the committee hearings into one of his former boss’s other abuses of power, Stone was convicted on all seven counts on which he’d been called to the bar, and no sartorial cock-of-the-walk narcissism can save him this time.
I remember being nauseated watching him get treated like a star at the Republican National Convention in 2016, and even more deeply nauseated watching him gallivant around the Capitol dressed like Mr. Peanut’s evil twin during the inauguration that same year. For all his celebrated “eccentricity,” Roger Stone is what democracy finds stuck to the bottom of its shoe on a hot summer’s day. Your time in the barrel has come, Roger, and the barrel’s gone over the falls. The bell has tolled. The cock has crowed, and maybe it wasn’t a good idea to spend the entire pre-trial period playacting the role of political tough-guy at the expense of the judge who now will sentence you on all seven counts on which you were indicted.
This was a big win for Robert Mueller, whose reputation as an investigator has been badly battered in recent weeks as it has become clear that his strict-constructionist view of his mandate left him incapable of confronting the limitless vista of corruption that is this administration*. His prosecutors needed this one to validate their work. In addition, Stone was nailed for lying to Congress, which has to give pause to the people who will be testifying in public next week. (Hi, Gordon Sondland!). The conviction further validates the view that the Russian Story and the Ukraine Story are parts of a reeking whole. The entire noxious fabric is unravelling almost by the hour.
Moreover, to those of us who have followed politics for a while now, watching Roger Stone go to the sneezer is a blessed bit of rough justice for all of the people he has victimized over the years and, indeed, for the system of government that was his most prominent victim of all. He learned the basics of ratfcking from Richard Nixon, which is like learning music from Mozart. In 1977, he was elected president of the Young Republicans with the help of his good friend, Paul Manafort. But his career came to full flower in the 2000s, which began with his role in disrupting the Florida recount process on behalf of the Bush campaign. (He may or may not have been central to the infamous Brooks Brothers Riot that shut down the recount in Miami-Dade County, but it certainly bore all the hallmarks of Stone’s work.) And he was pushing the idea of a Trump presidential campaign long before one finally was organized in 2015.