Saturday, April 20, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 16

    "It is good news that there was insufficient evidence to charge the President of the United States with having conspired with a foreign adversary or with having obstructed justice. The alternative would have taken us through a wrenching process with the potential for constitutional crisis. The business of government can move on.

    Even so, I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President. I am also appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia—including information that had been illegally obtained; that none of them acted to inform American law enforcement; and that the campaign chairman was actively promoting Russian interests in Ukraine.

    Reading the report is a sobering revelation of how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders."

Sen. Mitt Romney

The focus this week is upon the release of the "lightly redacted" Mueller Report and the impact or lackthereof it will have on Campaign 2020. It is clear that those who support Donald Trump or who simply fear the possibility of a Democrat in the White House simply do not care what was in the report and do not care what Donald Trump does, perhaps even to the extent of shooting someone in the head on Fifth Avenue. Those who have despised Donald Trump from Day 1 (consisting mostly of people on the left, but including those of us on the right) want very much for the depraved and dishonest individual to eventually receive his legitimate comeuppance. What do swing voters think? They seem to care more about "kitchen table issues" and their own lives than matters of integrity in the highest office of the land. I think that is unfortunate. While many in the Democrat Party will be pushing even harder for impeachment now, it is still very doubtful the U.S. House will ever take it up, for lack of bipartisan support. Instead, it will be  up to the party's slew of Presidential candidates, which will grow by one this coming week with the announcement of former Vice President Joe Biden, to manage to walk the tightrope between being liberal enough to win a nomination contest and unifying enough to take enough votes to beat Donald Trump. They may be able to do it, but it is doubtful they will be able to get me in their column. Clearly though, I am firmly of the position that the current incumbent is unfit for this or any other office.

I think Senator Romney, the man I wish were President today, gave a very fine statement. It has the Trump apologists, guilty consciences and all, extremely up in arms. It does not seem to garnering much points for Romney among people on the left though. Their attitude is more like "so what?" and "what are you going to do about it?" and "why do you vote to support his agenda then?" This tribalist attitude is a bigger part of the problem then solution. Of course, Romney and anybody else in Congress should vote their conscience , whether their position aligns them with Trump or not. There is also simply not much else that a Republican official like Romney can do. The party is completely, at least for now, beholden to Trump. Showing the independence to risk political retribution by speaking out against him should be saluted by those in the other party, not attacked.

Broadly speaking, the Mueller Report was very important for the country. As I have stated, it is a good thing that Trump and those with him did not work directly with the Russians in their clear and overwhelming desire to interfere in U.S. election, and yes, steal votes, if they could. However, the report shows that Trump and those around him still welcomed this "help." Even if they could technically wash their hands of it, their behavior was un-American, at best. For a month now, the contents of this report had been soft-pedaled by the Trump Justice Department. I am quite disappointed that William Barr, whom I thought would be a good Attorney General, chose to protect Trump from a PR standpoint above all else, from his four page "summary" the weekend the report was finished to a morning press conference this week hours before it was released, in which he acted like Trump's personal attorney. While yes, everything Barr said was technically accurate, Mueller's conclusions were far worse for Trump than anybody let on.Total vindication? Yeah right. Nonetheless, they had a sizable head start on public opinion and Trump might have improved his standing during that time. It will remain to be seen in the next two weeks if there is a reversal of circumstance.

As it relates to the Russian interference, it is high-time for Democrats to concede that there was a dereliction of duty in the Obama-Biden  Administration in trying to combat this problem and in being too weak in general with Russia. Indeed Mitt Romney is owed a tremendous apology for being dismissed on this issue in 2012.

I will also repeat that as was the case in 2012, when I accepted the results of an investigation that determined Hillary Clinton could not be prosecuted for her private email server and her mishandling of classified information, I believed as a layman, she was very lucky not to be indicted. I feel the same way now about Donald Trump. Even as Mueller somehow punted on the issue of obstruction of justice and left the final determination up to the political appointees of Donald Trump, a case can sure be made that obstruction occurred. The report all that indicates that Mueller personally reached that conclusion. He seemed to think it was a matter most suited for Congress to adjudicate though. Perhaps he is right, and we know what is likely to happen with that avenue, but how lucky is DJT? We can clearly see that if he cannot be charged with a crime, it is because his subordinates did not follow his orders on several occasions. His apologists think that is supposed to make us feel better or the fact that he did not exert executive privilege over the report. Democrats are clearly smart to want to get Robert Mueller up to Capitol Hill to personally testify in front of the television cameras. Republicans think Democrats' continued focus on this matter will eventually lead to "scandal fatigue" and a backlash against them.

The only perspective I can bring to this matter is that of a long-time political junkie who has always cared about character and the rule of law in the Presidency. I am very concerned about what Donald Trump has done to this country just as I was with Bill Clinton, and to a perhaps lesser extent Barack Obama. (Yes, I still believe George W. Bush governed with character and integrity.) I do not know if this is the issue that will cause Trump to lose next year or if it will due to health care or something like that. If the economy is perceived as humming along though, Trump might find it easy to get people to forget about these matters altogether.

On his side publicly, will be White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, a woman who spins and lies without batting an eye. I tend to side with her husband though, prominent conservative attorney George Conway, who often speaks publicly about his wife's boss. If anything, my views on this matter are closer to his than even that of the forever diplomatic Mitt Romney.

George Conway states, "what the Mueller report disturbingly shows, with crystal clarity, is that today there is a cancer in the presidency: President Donald J. Trump."


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