Some Lessons are Obvious; Some, Not So Much
Before launching into today’s discussion, I want to offer you a referral.
A good friend of mine, Bill Jamieson, also produces a blog, Hope and Stone. It is consistently a good read, full of solid analysis and a thoughtful mindset that I really appreciate. Bill brings decades of experience at the state government level to these postings. He worked productively for many years with Republican legislators.
In a posting last week, Bill reflected on that, and lamented that the Republican party he knew is gone. He can no longer trust it as an organization. Right he is. I commend the article to you (link provided at the end of this note), as well as Bill’s work generally. Not only is he thoughtful, his posts are usually shorter than mine – which is a good thing. Enjoy.
About That Impeachment – Some Things Most of Us Agree Upon
- The House Managers could not have done better. Some disagreements on witnesses, etc. (more on that shortly), but overall, they were remarkable. The team for Impeachment I was really solid. This team was at least its equal, maybe better. Rep. Raskin is America’s new political heart throb but they all were excellent. Prepared, eloquent, sincere.
- The results were disappointing, but not unexpected. The vote was actually stronger for conviction than many expected. Still, the lack of courage and commitment to the country by Republican senator was striking. Even among the 7 that voted to convict – some are retiring, others have years before they run again. Only one, Murkowski, is at near term risk Good on her for standing on principle.
- Some live witnesses would have been powerful, but would have dragged out the process for weeks, to no useful end. As one Congresswoman said, “We did not lack for witnesses. What we lacked was Republican legislators with a spine.” Having witnesses would not have changed the outcome.
- Trump’s lawyers had an impossible task, but they generally made it worse. I have to confess that if I ever saw that guy from Philadelphia in front of my car at a cross walk, I might have a tragic brake failure. What a sorry excuse for a human being.
- Sort of telegraphed how serious they took their role as sworn jurors with guys like Mike Lee and Ted Cruz kept walking over to the defense table to offer helpful advice. Wouldn’t it have been great if the presiding officer had possessed the power to dismiss them as jurors for misconduct?
Could Anyone Look Worse Than Trump After This?
You would think not. He came out of this really tarred for so many Americans. Never underestimate this guy, but I think he has peaked. And his other troubles are about to gobble him up.
Yet as craven, crass, cruel, and selfish as Trump looked, two people actually now look worse.
One is Kevin McCarthy, the Minority Leader in the House. The infamous phone call to the president on JAN 6 made it clear old Kevin knew just how bad this was. Yet within 2 weeks, he was kissing the ring at Mar A Lago and pulling punches on disciplining the worst of his delegation. At this point, no one on either side of the Republican’s dividing line would follow him across the street to get free money. No one, and I mean no one, respects this guy at all. This is the definition of walking damage.
The other, of course, is Senate Minority Leader McConnell, who tried so hard to have it both ways in this trial. He failed. People all over the spectrum have called him out. He led the vote to acquit Trump, yet less than an hour later, said it was all Trump’s fault. He voted to acquit on the nonexistent grounds of a lack of jurisdiction for a former president. This from the man who shut down the Senate for two weeks while the clock ran out. Save a special hell for this guy, please.
What Does This Mean for Legislators?
Good things happen in legislatures that have a modicum of bipartisanship, a willingness to compromise, and at least a minimum amount of mutual trust. The current US Congress has none of that – zero.
Were I a Democratic member of the Congress, I think the following would be my working model:
- Dozens of Republicans voted to overturn citizens validated votes on the same night of the insurrection. None can ever be trusted again, on anything. I would not be shy about proclaiming that and operating accordingly.
- If we have something we both agree on, great. Bipartisan votes are a good thing. But don’t ask me to cosponsor anything with you and know that I will not put my name as cosponsor to anything you author.
- I would ensure the FBI knew I looked forward to the results of their investigations of high-level people, including members of Congress, who were facilitators of the insurrection.
Bottom line – less will get done because too many members of this Congress are untrustworthy and unworthy of the position they hold.
What Does All This Mean for the Republican Party?
This is the part that I really find remarkable. I can come to no other conclusion other than that the vast majority of the Republicans in Congress care only about their next election. The nation does not figure in their calculation. Nor does the future of their party.
There are a very small handful of Trump true believers in Congress. The newly elected and infamous Congresswoman from Georgia is one. That guy from Florida with the weird haircut who travelled to Arizona to trash Liz Cheney is another. But there really are not that many.
There are many more who stand up (hard to stand up without a spine, but they try) for Trump as a matter of political calculation. They know Trump is still king for much of the base and they want to be the successor. They quickly sold their souls for not even the promise of 30 pieces of silver. Cruz, Hawley, et. al. A slimy bunch, one and all.
The rest are just afraid of Trump or of being primaried, so they tremble and sell out. Cowards, every one of them.
What is striking about all this is that Trumpism is a political dead end. The longer it runs, the smaller that party becomes. History is pretty clear that cults of personality like this run out of gas sooner than later. To save their butts now, all of these Republicans have put their country at future risk, trampled on our constitution and in the long run assured the permanent weakened status of their own party. Every time a state party condemns a non-Trump vote, thousands change their registration from Republican.
Had McConnell possessed an ounce of decency and concern for his country and his party, he would have voted to convict and dramatically accelerated the cleansing of Trumpism from his party. He had it in his grasp and wasted it. A failure of historic proportions.
May they all pay a price worthy of the choices they made.
Bill Clontz (with his pal Ben Franklin)
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