In Truth, No One Knows What Will Happen


We’ve heard a lot of bluster from Republicans lately, much of it pooh-poohing impeachment and the odds of President Trump’s being removed from office.

In Congress, Republicans used the House Intelligence Committee’s recently concluded public hearings to depict impeachment as uninteresting, unpopular, unfair, unnecessary, unsubstantiated, unpromising, and unwise.  The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, likewise prejudged the whole endeavor, saying that should the Senate try Trump on impeachment charges, “It’s inconceivable to me there would be 67 votes to remove the president from office.”

So say the Republicans, with impressive bravado.  Meanwhile, the nation is heading straight at a moment of truth that will show what every Republican in the House and Senate is made of.

The public has received a mass of credible evidence that the president violated his oath of office to pursue a delusional personal agenda at the expense of national security.  Trump enlisted other senior White House officials to further this agenda, explicitly empowering a private citizen, former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, to orchestrate it.  The House Intel hearings were an effective whodunnit.  A parade of witnesses described a president at ease with sacrificing America’s public interests to those of Russia and to what matters to him personally.  Such are the “goods” Republicans are bent on defending, at the expense of nation, party, and their own place in American history.

For, if the president’s conduct is tolerated, our republic is gone.

Republicans have sought to diminish the gravity of this Constitutional crisis.  They complain mightily about the Democrats, perhaps because it’s painful to admit the turpitude embodied in the leader of their own party.  They evoke the 63 million Americans who voted for President Trump in 2016, as if the mandate he secured then forever freed him from Constitutional limits or Congressional oversight.  Republicans even assert that the riveting testimony given before the House Intel Committee was trivial and boring, whereas this great week of political theater was singularly dramatic, momentous, and often moving.  Americans are far more sophisticated and more concerned with political rectitude than Republican lawmakers care to consider.  No poll can predict what will happen to Republicans who choose to enable Trump’s abuse of power.

Republicans like Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes pander to the sort of voter they imagine forms the unshakable bedrock of Trump’s support: this voter is ill-informed, narrow-minded, and easily hurt.  Republicans point to Trump’s forty-percent approval rating, as though this were a justification for abdicating the responsibilities Congress has to the Constitution.  Congressional Republicans come across as fearful of securing office on their own terms, once this amazing charlatan leaves the public stage (which, given presidential term limits, is destined to happen anyway).

Deference to Trump’s “base” is curious and self-defeating.  Trump is one of the least popular presidents in recent history, on a par with Gerald Ford.  (For graphical comparisons to other presidents, click here and scroll down.)

A simplistic and condescending view of the voter has the Republican establishment running very scared.  Republicans wants citizens everywhere to believe that impeachment is doomed, because otherwise Republican politicians will have to face the crisis of leading their constituents into the post-Trump age.  Will Republicans continue to shirk the responsibility of leading, which, in a republic, involves educating citizens on complex matters and figuring out how to change their constituents’ minds?

Impeachment is now before the House Judiciary Committee.  In the coming weeks, Republicans in power will come under increasing pressure to lead the nation, rather than dither about how hard it is to do the right thing.


Image:
Edmund S. Valtman’s “Don’t Put Up Any Resistance! Just Keep In Step,”
published in the Hartford Times, 13 April 1973,
from this source.

The cartoon shows ‘a small man, labeled “Congress,” being hustled away from the Capitol by three hulking men in fedoras and black coats.  All three men have President Richard Nixon’s features and are labeled “Executive Privilege,” “Impounding of Funds,” and “Veto Power.”  After Nixon won re-election with a huge majority in 1972, he announced an ambitious domestic program that he called the “New American Revolution.”  Determined to destroy any opposition, he used all the weapons at his disposal to force Congress to accept his plans.  This included the pocket veto of 11 bills after Congress adjourned in 1972 and the impoundment of funds for programs enacted by Congress.  In addition, he extended the principle of executive privilege, refusing to allow members of his staff to testify before Congressional committees, most notably the Watergate Committee chaired by Senator Sam Ervin. Many people feared these actions were causing an erosion of Congress’s powers and a consequent increase in the powers of the president.’   (LC catalog description.)  Nixon, having lost his battle to defy Congress and facing removal through impeachment, resigned on August 8, 1974.

13 responses

  1. Hello Susan. You said in part, “The public has received a mass of credible evidence that the president violated his oath of office.” I have not yet received it. I do not know yet of any evidence of wrong doing by our president. If you could please list some credible evidence I would be happy to study it. Thanks again for allowing me to post in your Chicago publication.

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    • Dave,
      You kind of tipped your hand when you concluded your last comment on my blog with the words “Of course I’m right.” When I asked, “Why of course?” you had nothing to say. Why should I take the time to reply to your comments when you have indicated that you have no ears to hear and no eyes to see?

      You know that old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”? It makes me sad to think of good patriotic Americans like you hopelessly in thrall to this Manchurian candidate. You have closed your mind and are ending your life as a pawn in a Russian propaganda scheme.

      Richard Nixon was an enormously popular president; he was a skilled and committed public servant. Yet by the end of Watergate (when he too stonewalled forever trying to keep pertinent information from the public), members of his own party and millions of people who had voted for him came to understand that he had betrayed his oath. It was a terrible betrayal of the nation and his party. In his interviews with David Frost after he had been disgraced and driven from office, Nixon at last admitted the wrong he had done. He had the good sense to be ashamed. He at least cared about our political tradition and understood he had disgraced himself and the presidency in pursuit of his own twisted aims.

      Trump apologists who dread impeachment argue that what Trump has done isn’t “bad enough.” Others point to the disappointing performance of the political parties to try to justify leaving Trump in office, as if two wrongs will ever make a right. Very few officials are arguing as you do that Trump has done nothing wrong.

      I sure hope Republican legislators can screw up their courage and reconnect with the best standards of their historic party.

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  2. Great post, Susan. I was riveted by the Constitutional scholars who testified today. Republicans with any knowledge of what is right and good for our country should have gotten a thought in their individual minds. This not about party anymore; it is about our country and rule of law.

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    • I agree, and I think Republicans in the House and Senate will find that doing the right thing will secure them new respect, and bring a terrible period of hyper-partisanship to an end.

      As for the scholars who testified yesterday, I was particularly grateful to Professor Kaplan for explaining so clearly why foreign interference of any kind is illegal and anathema to American voters’ right to self-government. It was even worth hearing from Professor Turley, though I found his arguments unpersuasive. I cannot agree that, for Trump’s wrongdoing to be impeachable, it must be “systemic.” This is like saying that the commission of one crime isn’t enough to justify calling the perpetrator a criminal. Turley also tried to chip away at Congress’s right to impeach, which does not need the Supreme Court’s stamp of approval each time to be legitimate.

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  3. I very much enjoyed your post, Susan. I, too, found the testimony of the law professors fascinating; and I agree, it was good to hear also from Turley, who, though very articulate, remained unconvincing, as you say.

    My goodness, the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani is, at this very moment in Ukraine (again) meeting with former Ukranian prosecutors to try to debunk the impeachment process and dig up dirt on Democrats (New York Times, December 4, 2019). So, yes, hurry up, House of Reps!

    (Thanks also for posting a link to the historical presidential popularity polls. You would think that Republicans who cling so tightly to Trump would see the writing on the wall.

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    • Thank you, KW. You are right about that terrible blackguard, Rudy Giuliani; he is actually out with a bunch of pro-Russian hacks brewing up the world’s worst fake news to bring back home.

      I was very surprised to see how unpopular Trump is relative to other recent presidents. The lip-service devoted to the forty percent who approve of Trump should be doled out more sparingly, and commentators should be interrogating such poll results more critically. Strange that so much solicitude should go out a crowd that holds a minority view. I wish that the “lost causes” I believe in would garner similar respect.

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  4. Trump’s popularity is only forty percent, yet the weak-kneed GOP senators and representatives behave like it is sixty percent or more. When a president’s popularity is under fifty percent most presidents have had the sense to be concerned.

    Trump was the laughingstock of every member of NATO during its two-day meeting in London. All the other leaders recoil from the slime and the constant lying he does. He can’t be trusted. Putin pulls his strings. Trump is Putin’s lap dog, ever eager to please.

    “Oh no,” Trump proclaims, doubling down yet again on the baseless claim that Ukraine was behind all meddling Russia did in our 2016 elections, “it was not Russia at all.” This goes against the findings of all sixteen American intel agencies that investigated that election.

    Trump is desecrating OUR Constitution; he could care less. Not sure why his supporters are so afraid to admit what this monster is doing to our country.

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  5. Susan, I did not answer your question about “of course I am right”. I will answer it now. It was a flippant remark intended toward casual conversational endearment. I talk to many people each day and it is not until after the formal scrutinization of every word or gesture ends that actual communication begins.

    The problem I am having is real and widespread amongst fellow Americans. I have listened to too many newscasts, viewed too many blog entries, listened to too many claims about President Trump’s wrong doings. Yet never has a word been said about credible evidence other than the way you used that term. So I am saying if it is credible lets see it. I am convinced you believe it. Can you please explain to me why you believe President Trump should be removed from office after all the good he has done in the few short years he has occupied the White house? It’s all I am asking. Show me the proof. Tell me why you feel he is a bad apple. From where I am sitting he is the single most popular president of my lifetime. Ending NAFTA is wonderful. Stepping out of the Paris Climate Accord is fantastic. Pressuring the “bad apples” in the United Nations to stop with the fake committees about human rights peopled by appointees from dictatorships that don’t allow women to dress tthe way they wish or even to show their faces in public. We are getting a wall built across our southern border that will help stop the supply of money to the soul-less millionaire drug lord leaches in Mexico. That in itself is maybe the most humanitarian act of any president in my lifetime. NATO countries are beginning to shoulder their obligations instead of relying on the USA to pay their bills. The list of good accomplishments is quite long. The lineup of millionaire public servants (Democrat Congressmen) who are absent from their jobs pursuing Impeachment of the man who trumped their candidate in the last election is also long but lacks any apparent substance. This is not what they were hired to do. Had the Mueller millions been used to fund cancer research it may have saved lives. So what is this Impeachment mess going to cost us? It is as ridiculous as the Clinton impeachment.

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    • Dave, your standard of “credible evidence” must be far different than mine if you are as well-informed as you suggest yet are still not convinced. If you have read the transcript of President Trump asking for a favor and listened to the sworn testimony of American diplomats thwarted in carrying out their mission to Ukraine and do not see anything amiss there, you are very much in the minority. Why do you think it is okay to inveigle foreign actors (heads of state at that) to get involved in our politics and throw their weight to one side?

      Trump is like a criminal who, when confronted with an array of witnesses in a court of law tries to claim “They’re all lying but me.” I’m not a partisan, and I would gladly abandon impeachment if Trump could explain why he withheld military aid from Ukraine and if he, further, lifted the gag that prevents his underlings from testifying.

      Most of the political establishment knows the president’s conduct is wrong and his character bad. He is not upholding the Constitution. End of story. Whether he could win another election, how much you like his policies, how desperate this country is for inspired leadership or a massive redirect, how expensive it is to investigate corruption: all such considerations are irrelevant.

      The people of the US desperately desire a federal government more attuned to their needs. Trump is trying to deliver this but he is also abusing his office and powers. He must be impeached.

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    • Susan, I began a reply then was interrupted. Don’t know if you received my partial reply or not as I lost it off of the computer. Maybe tomorrow, good night.

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  6. Susan, good morning. Anthropogenic climate change is a similar issue that I am more acquainted with that mirrors the current issue of impeachment. Government entities offer many solutions that do nothing other than raise taxes and reduce freedom, yet none of these can possibly have any effect on the problem. Any research facility, group, or individual who publishes information that is contrary to the “official” narrative suddenly bears the burden of derogatory labels: “denier”, “crackpot”, “in the pocket of oil companies”. Then receives no more research money. Even so, there are reams of peer-reviewed papers floating around that show the fallacy of this ruse and all is ignored by those pushing for the taxes and restrictions. Telling a lie often enough and loudly enough makes it accepted, even if not a fact.

    In my corner of the world, we are living with the Spotted Owl hoax. In that issue, one man, for college credit, did a paper on the decline of the Northern Spotted Owl. In that paper, he claimed the decline in this Owl’s population was due to one single action: The harvesting of “Old Growth Forest”. Those with influence in government ran with that uncontested paper and used it as a tool, in conjunction with the Endangered Species Act, to put hundreds of thousands of people out of work. Ended many multi-million-dollar corporations. Devastated hundreds of communities and thousands of careers. Since the term Old Growth Forest has no exact meaning, it soon grew to include any tree of any age. In a few short years (early 80’s), our industry nearly ended. We (we as an industry) then began to harvest privately owned timber. Now nearly forty years later. Harvestable private timber is almost exhausted, the federal timber lands are overgrown, and hundred of square miles of federal forest burns up each summer at a cost of billions to suppress fires. Years ago, it was proven that the Northern Spotted Owl thrives equally well in any forest as it did in Old Growth, yet the nation still believes the narrative of the original college student report.

    Crying wolf again. There are members of Congress who have been talking of impeachment before Donald Trump won the election. If President Trump, while working toward the betterment of our country (doing his job), stepped outside the accepted constraints, and it was to a high enough degree that Congress needed to take action on it, I see no reason for impeachment. The pro-impeachment crowd wants to remove him from office, not to correct any failings. It is possible that the Ukraine has greater corruption in its government than even we do here. The television tells me the current President of Ukraine ran on a platform of anti-corruption, just as our President did. I see nothing wrong in the transcript where President Trump is asking President Zelensky to investigate corruption that is mutual between both our countries. This claim of President Trump asking Ukraine to investigate a political rival is missing one important component. Illegality. Would you want any president to be aware of corruption and be silent about it? Complicit? I am not well informed, as you claim in your reply to me. Maybe it is just my longer period of education allows for clearer vision.

    Susan I very much enjoy the use of your blog. I have given your remarks much thought. Yet my conclusions remain unturned. People on each side of an issue tend to talk only with those who are in agreement. Only when talking across those artificial lines is progress made on any issue.

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    • In such a large and varied nation, citizens differ in their notions of what the federal government should or should not do or be. I am sympathetic to the charge that the government has made mistakes, both in the direction of doing too much and doing too little. The blame game that has been growing in popularity since the time of Newt Gingrich has sickened Congress and favored office-holders incapable of crafting and supporting commonsense solutions. It is sad that the parties are dysfunctional and unresponsive to the people’s needs.

      I can’t imagine any intervention capable of “correcting” Donald Trump’s “failings.” His responsibilities are great, and he took them on voluntarily. He swore he would protect and defend the Constitution His situation is not that of an unruly kindergartner crying out for some mild reprimand or discipline! Your account of the president’s actions fails to mention his withholding aid from Ukraine for over a month in an effort to use Pres. Zelensky for a personal end. This is what is wrong in the president’s behavior. Ukraine rose up against its pro-Russian hack government and with the election of Zelensky is making an effort to reform. Now Giuliani is over there lapping up what the disgraced pro-Russian officials are feeding him. What a dunce and a tool! Yet this is the person the president has ceded our policy to. I am ashamed to have such vulgar nitwits directing the course of our history–down and down it goes!

      Like

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