Want to see a sentence that encapsulates just how through the looking glass we are right now?
Wealth-management executive David Bahnsen sent a plea to President Donald Trump this week to pardon Michael Milken, one of the most powerful figures in Wall Street history to go to prison.
That's right, kids, we've reached the "Make Michael Milken Innocent Again" level of whatever Trumpism is. And we're not going all "Snowflake" opposition over here, because one leisurely read through Bahnsen's letter conveys a real sense that Trump supporters are quite keen on leveraging this moment in time to retroactively reshape our moral history. Bahnsen takes a reasonable argument (Milken's shot at legal redemption) and buttfumbles it into absurdity.
Here's how Bahnsen self-intros:
My name is David Bahnsen, a lifetime Republican, engaged citizen, and grateful American.
"First time, long time." We get it. Bahnsen is probably one of the Trump supporters still holding out for tax reform and maybe some infrastructure spending to really get that bond market all frothed up. But Bahnsen also knows that Time=Money so he gets right to the point:
The purpose of this letter is to plead with your administration to consider a
pardon of Mr. Michael Milken.
Bahnsen is a money guy who clearly aligns with the school of thought that Milken was a martyr of 1980's American culture's vicious and clumsy attempt to wash away the stain of Wall Street's decade of greed. Maybe Milken is not the avatar of avarice that he's been made to be over the years.
Your administration’s recent pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio has provoked a resurgence of thought around Presidential pardons, and for the reasons I shall enumerate, I respectfully ask the administration to consider using its Constitutional pardon privileges in the case of Mr. Milken.
What the fuck? Joe Arpaio? You're not helping, Dave. [ed . note: Do scan down to read where Bahnsen postulates that Tesla is only able to survive because Milken created junk bonds, for it is *kisses fingertips* beautiful.]
Michael Milken has done a lot to restore his name over the last few decades and he probably doesn't want that name to go down in history linked in any way to Joe Arpaio. It also stands to reason that even Milken sees the political clusterfuck that a Trump pardon would bring. In fact, we're relatively certain that, somewhere, Milken is reading Bahnsen's letter and thinking "Maybe he could pardon Boesky first and we'll see how that goes?"
Let's be clear: The idea of pardoning Milken is not crazy (just ask Bill Clinton) but the idea of Donald Trump pardoning Michael Milken is utterly nuts. The sentence "President Donald Trump pardons Michael Milken" looks to someone in the 1980s like "President Kim Kardashian picks Steve Cohen to run the SEC" would look to us right now. In fact, the only person more synonymous with greed and excess in 1980s NYC than Michael Milken was Donald Trump.
Rewarding Michael Milken for all he's done post-prison is something that should probably be on the national discussion table, but for a president with the metric shit-ton of ethical baggage that this one has, using his power to excuse Michael Milken sends an awful message that damages not only the wreckage of this presidency, but populist sentiment towards Wall Street, trust in the government and - perhaps most importantly of all - Michael Milken.
So, yeah, this is probably going to happen.