Impeachment: Familiar Ground, New Territory, and the Pull of History

Many Crossroads are Ahead. Oh, Yeah- and Elections are Next Year


Well, quite the week last week, wasn’t it? Impeachment went from a remote possibility with vague parameters to a fast-moving train. Looking around us now, we see interesting landmarks on our journey.

Two of these are strangely familiar.

One, it seemed that the move to impeach was stuck well short of enough votes to move forward. What happened? Seven House freshmen, all with military and national security service backgrounds, stood up and called for impeachment. Five of them are from tough, competitive districts. Hello, leadership.

Before the week was out, over 70 of their colleagues joined them. Similar patterns shaped the Nixon impeachment process. The occasional member of Congress with much at risk stood up and said, “No more.” Watch for signs of this down the road among Republicans in both houses.

I don’t know where this will end, but I sense the ground shifting across the Congress. 20 Republican Senators seems impossible to convert, but momentum is a funny thing. I suspect that within a month standing by Trump may look like a wasted suicide mission to a lot of people. By the way, David Leonhardt has a terrific “Letter to Republican Senators” in the Monday times about stepping up to history. It is an excellent read.

Two, Mr. Trump is providing the evidence and statements to convict, even with his efforts to cover up. It was the same with the Nixon tapes. Once they were out, the end was ordained. There is still much we do not know today. But just the statements by Trump, Giuliani, et all and the documents released so far more than make the case.

But we are also in very, very new territory. Reviewing the summary Trump released is mind blowing. Trump actually thought it was a good news document, and it probably was doctored. For just about anyone else reading it, it felt like a script from the Godfather. It’s not a long read. It’s also not complicated to get the message Trump was delivering.

Add to that the detailed and careful case (apparently – we have not seen it) made by the whistle blower. The picture is of self-centered corruption and abuse of power unlike anything we have ever seen. Those who doggedly defend Mr. Trump are about to be eaten by history, even if the Senate fails to convict. Perhaps especially if the Senate fails to convict.

Stated simply, one can agree or disagree with Mr. Trump’s policies and proclivities. But it is something completely different to give him a pass on the conduct now uncovered. No one should get a pass on such blatant misconduct, ill-will, and corruption of constitutional standards. It is no longer possible to pretend this is OK in any sense.

Which brings us to the roots of our history. Our founders came out of a system of royal privilege. They saw first-hand what unbridled power looked like. They also understood the temptation of self-enrichment and self-protection by office holders. Although we have never seen a case so bad as this one, it is the model for which impeachment was put in place.

This blog has asked the question before. We did so before all of last week’s revelations, which make the case again by orders of magnitude:

If one would not impeach on these grounds, what would constitute impeachable offenses? If not now, never.

      Bill Clontz

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2 replies to Impeachment: Familiar Ground, New Territory, and the Pull of History

  1. Sharing…

    • Ah, the more eyes and voices, the better. Thank you, Renee. Best wishes.

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