Saturday, December 21, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 51

This season, families and friends will gather to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah much in the same way that has been done for generations, as we all seem to somewhat take for granted the historic nature and the weight of issues facing America and our culture.

Our President has been impeached. It would be hard to find a single person who voted against him along with many who voted for him, that did not expect this to happen eventually, as soon as he was surprisingly elected. Technically, Donald Trump is the first Republican President to ever be impeached, but still received unanimous support from the minority in the U.S. House of Representatives that still call themselves Republicans. Two Democrats also voted "no" on both Articles of Impeachment. One has jumped parties now while the other is a veteran lawmaker from a conservative rural district. Interestingly enough, lame duck Congresswoman and Democrat Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, voted "present" on both articles, pleasing virtually nobody. It feeds into many questions about her motivations, values, and plans, once she is officially eliminated from the Democrat Presidential sweepstakes.

Trump loves to brag, often inaccurately, about the size of his 2016 victory, including getting the Electoral College numbers wrong, as he once again did in an angry multi-paged manifesto he sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the eve of the vote. However, he can finally claim to be the President to have gotten the most votes; the most votes to impeach. Even as virtually nobody anticipates that two thirds of a U.S. Senate controlled by Republicans will oust him from office, he is likely to have the most votes against him in an impeachment vote in that body as well.

Will there even be a trial? Right now, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats are playing a game of chicken with the White House and especially Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell about releasing the articles. Trump is saying he wants a quick and speedy trial. Democrats may want to let him twist a bit over that, however, that sort of political  maneuvering could be incredibly risky to them. After all, they spoke at length about the need to impeach Trump quickly because of the stakes involved, especially the rapidly approaching 2020 election. Indeed, I do believe this should be taken up in the Senate as soon as possible, but I also understand why Democrats are trying to play the only political card they have left, which is the desire of many Americans for a "fair trial" which would involve witness testimony that Trump does not want provided and which could produce new headlines. The fact that McConnell and other Senate Republicans are saying they are not going to be impartial jurors, even though they will have to take an oath to be just that, is also a political risk for Republicans.

The bottom line to all of this is that Trump has been impeached, and not by a close vote, as he deserved to be. If nothing else, history will note that some people tried to stop what will hopefully be an aberration and not a new trend of abuse of power in the way that Trump did just that. What will also be noted, at least until the present date, is the absence of elected Congressional Republicans in taking a stand for the Constitution and fairness above party labels or ideological differences.

This is a a bit of a shameful time for me as a Republican. I also believe that many Democrats also felt that same sense of shame last year when their party acted in a completely irresponsible and partisan way regarding the Supreme Court nomination of Bret Kavanaugh. As sad and angry I am at the Congressional Republicans I once admired, I cannot help but think that if the party labels were reversed, they of course would be all for impeachment, while many Democrats would be defending their President using much of the same tactics and rhetoric.

The reality of the situation though is that it is a Republican President who did these deeds and whom Democrats are trying to hold accountable. To the extent that I was able to follow the impeachment debate on Wednesday, I sure felt like a Democrat like I never have before in my life. Some of the arguments to defend Trump in which comparisons to Pearl Harbor and the crucifixion of Christ were downright cringe worthy. Again though, there is nothing about the Democrats to lead me to believe they would be above such ridiculousness to save their own political hides. Justin Amash of Michigan, an often iconoclastic politician, who has thus far always been elected as a Republican, before changing to Independent not long ago, voted for both articles and was able to articulate why. There is a possibility that he could be named as one of the Impeachment Mangers in the Senate trial. I also cannot help but think that if this were a "secret vote" there would have been literally dozens of GOP votes to impeach. Of course, we demand our leaders stand up and act publicly so that they may be judged by their voters. That is the way it should be.

Wednesday was a very odd day, though I remember watching the coverage 21 years ago this December in which Bill Clinton was impeached and it being covered as a far more historical event.  At the very moment Trump was being impeached, he was speaking at a large style campaign rally in Michigan. He typically speaks for a very long time at these events and surely knew by the time he eventually walked off stage he would be impeached. Of course, he went on many weird tangents during this rally, including a stupid riff about the pronunciation of Pete Buttigeg's name. What people remembered the most though is that he took a shot at Debbie Dingell, the Michigan Congreswoman who voted to impeach him, and he who recently lost her husband John Dingell, who served in Congress longer than any other American. He made inaccurate statements about actions he took to honor Dingell when he died and then inferred that he was perhaps looking up from hell. Many in the rally audience even groaned and some Republicans have called for Trump to apologize, which of course he will not. If cruelty were an impeachable offense, he would be impeached on a daily basis.

Of course, Democrats continue to seek the job of President. On Thursday, in Los Angeles, a smaller crowd of qualifying Democrats met for a three hour debate. The first hour was very substantive and policy-wonk like. It should have made the party feel good. Then, it devolved into more of a political food fight  where the candidates attacked each other to try to jockey for position in the early states. Interestingly enough though, national front-runner Joe Biden was virtually left alone and had his least gaffe effected performance yet.  Instead, other candidates, especially Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar went after Pete Buttigieg. Warren was especially eager to point out a recent "Mayor Pete" fundraiser in Napa Valley in which "millionaires and billionaires" held an event in a "wine cave."

Clearly, there is a concern among many campaigns about the appeal of Buttigieg in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he has the potential to win both of the first two states. Watching these portions of the debates (and continuing to have massive policy disagreements with Buttigieg) I cannot help but think he was very effective in turning back these attacks. He was ready for them and pulled off his lines strongly, especially when he pointed out he was the only non-millionaire on stage and that Warren was calling for a litmus test she herself could not pass, because she had previously taken money from large donors as well. The Massachusetts Senator seemed to be pretty silent after the South Bend Mayor returned serve. The fact that Democrats think they might be able to compete at full strength in this campaign without the support of very rich people (who of course would be those who want to get rid of Trump) is laughable. Buttigieg I believe is easily perhaps the strongest pure politician of any Democrat running now, and might be someone who will be heard from again down the road, considering his very young age. ( I was saying the same about Marco Rubio the last cycle though regarding some of his strong debate performances.) Klobuchar will continue to point out that Mayor Pete has never won statewide (and indeed failed very badly in one past attempt) and that might be a continued sticking point for those who want someone to have served in higher office. For as good of a politician as Buttigieg might be becoming, a statewide win for a liberal in Indiana seems unlikely.

By Friday, a story on cable news seemed to overshadow the Democrats' debate and that is that the magazine Christianity Today (a suburban Chicago publication which I have to admit I had never heard of before this week) took the rare step to stay that Trump should be removed as President. This is an Evangelical Christian publication started decades ago by the Rev. Billy Graham. While they do not wade into politics frequently, they pointed out the need to be consistent on Trump as they had been in the '90s when they called for Clinton to leave office. To be expected, Trump and his allies fired back calling Christianity Today a "failing" and a "far-left" publication, which of course is not true. Billy Graham's son Franklin, along with other relatives, also pushed back strongly against the magazine the family patriarch had founded, claiming the senior Graham had voted for Trump before he died and that they all would again.

While I believe it is sadly true that the Evangelicals who have chosen to look the other way on a myriad of other Trump dysfunctions are not going to change their mind because a retiring editor wrote such a powerful piece. However, he deserves kudos for doing so and it has to be recognized that a schism among Evangelicals exists over Trump. I think this will especially be true about the youngest members of that group, who are likely to be less forgiving of racism and misogyny as a means to an end to achieve other political objectives. The more someone is able to take a risk and speak out, the more likely it is that others will as well, or will at least be willing to open their minds to the full picture.

So, Christianity Today has been consistent on the matter of Presidential character and the rule of law and so am I. I continue to believe I was right to want Bill Clinton removed from office after his impeachment (even though the risk existed for a Democrat to be  more likely to win in 2000) and certainly I have long been in favor of Trump being removed from office of stepping down from office, under peaceful, Constititional means.

The facts of the Ukraine matter speak for themselves. They were illegal and immoral. As far as I am concerned, the findings of the Mueller Report in regards to Russian collusion were worthy of Impeachment as well but the reasons to oppose Trump on the issue of character go far beyond that.

Donald J. Trump is simply unworthy because of the life he has led and the actions he takes, under the guise of the Presidency. Too many Americans seems to shrug though and just focus on what to them feels like a currently strong economy. This has its roots from the Clinton saga, where Democrats and many in the mainstream media felt that character was secondary to policy. Now, Republicans have largely moved to take that same position, while the country is worse off for it. What will happen one day when another President, of whatever party, acts even worse than Trump? The precedent is being set that too many Americans have been silent when morality demanded action. We have normalized illegality and immorality in the Presidency.

Still, I will choose to be an optimist about history and how this will all be remembered. As one Democrat Congressman put it during the debate, if Trump leaves office in one month, one year, or five years, impeachment will follow him and his legacy forever. For now, many people will continue to try to get Trump out of the White House, even if we cannot agree on a unifying figure to oppose him at Election time. That means, that the possibility exists that it might take five years for him to leave office.

Far longer than that though will be our unwritten legacy as a country and the standards of decency, honor, integrity, and faithfulness, we set for our leaders, and for ourselves.


At 11:41 AM, Blogger Corey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Corey said...

I was just testing the comment system.


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