Travesty Complete: Cowards Bend the Knee

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Remember when we used to ponder if and when a constitutional crisis might arrive?

Good times.

“Trump acquitted” read the matching headlines in the New York Times and Washington Post on Wednesday, and for once I agree with the cry of “fake news!” regarding our two leading newspapers. As Nancy Pelosi said even before the fait accompli of the sham verdict was announced, “There can be no acquittal without a trial, and there is no trial without witnesses, documents and evidence.”

I reported that quote last week but it bears repeating as we review the Bert Lahr-like behavior of Trump’s GOP allies in delivering unto us that travesty of justice.

It was stomach-churning to watch Senate Republicans cravenly abdicating their constitutional duty—their patriotic duty—in ignoring an avalanche of evidence and objective reality itself for the sake of partisan power and their own sorry asses. But as the comedian Michael Che said on “SNL”’s Weekend Update, “What better way to start Black History Month than by being failed by the justice system?”

It was a mockery of jurisprudence and the rule of law, of course, but worse, it promises to have terrible repercussions for presidential abuse of power and the further debasement of our represented democracy, opening the door to full-blown autocracy at a level never before see in the United States.

And so the first line of 52 obituaries got written this week, all of which will make a bunch of as-yet-unborn great-grandchildren go red-faced with shame someday. The sins of Nixon’s dead-enders look trifling by comparison.

Meanwhile, the implications of the catastrophe these bastards have wrought are just beginning to unfold.

“THANK YOU SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER?”

Among the most howlingly ludicrous rationalizations for excusing Trump’s actions was Susan Collins’ assertion that she believed he had learned his lesson. (In that regard she was echoing Lamar Alexander, who had said a similarly idiotic thing.) That was either world-beating naiveté or contemptible dishonesty; in either case, there is not an iota of evidence from Trump’s 73 years on this Earth to support that hypothesis. True to form, Donald wasted no time in making a fool of Susie by announcing that he had learned no such thing. And STILL, even after the humiliation of his response, she voted for acquittal.

Since then, Collins has had the gall to go on Fox News (natch) and smile, saying, “Well, I may not be correct on that. It’s more aspirational on my part.”

Aspirational. Wow. You know, I have some aspirations too, and they are encapsulated by UCLA Law School professor Jonathan Zasloff, who wrote: “Pine Tree Staters: either your senior Senator is a blithering idiot, or she thinks you are. Either one is a reason to throw her out of office this November.”

Word, as the kids say.

Parroting Collins and Alexander’s nonsensical position, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) defended her acquittal vote with an extra dollop of AYFKM by decrying “rank partisanship,” which was, to say the least, rich. (Bye Felicia.) A number of other weasely Republicans followed Lamar, Susie, and Lisa’s lead down the “wrong but not impeachable” road (like Marco Rubio and Ben Sasse, the GOP’s very own Eddie Haskell), even as Trump rejected that approach, instead demanding unqualified affirmation of his papal-ike infallibility. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia called their bluff with his motion for censure, which would have at least acknowledged Trump’s wrongdoing. Needless to say, that proposal died on the vine, with the GOP caucus shunning it like vampires faced with a crucifix, holy water, and an order of garlic knots from Olive Garden.

Of course, the whole notion that it isn’t a serious offense to pressure a foreign power to interfere in our elections is risible.

Then there was the utterly despicable and deceitful Rand Paul, who had a doozy of a followup to last week’s stunt of trying to get John Roberts to name the whistleblower (and then doing so himself at a press conference). This week Paul went a step further and named the man right on Senate floor. As Axios reports:

Paul defended his decision to CNN’s Manu Raju, arguing that he did not single out the alleged whistleblower with his floor speech: “I would say the chief justice did that. By not allowing the question, he’s sort of confirming to the public who it is. I have no idea who it is.”

Did I call Rand utterly despicable and deceitful already? (Just double checking.) I hope his neighbor comes over the beats the snot out of him again.

And that’s just a brief survey of the profiles in cowardice that define the modern GOP at its highest levels.

Writing in the Atlantic, Lawfare editors Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic laid out a blistering 23 point rebuttal to all those who think Trump did nothing wrong, or if he did, it was no big deal. Among their points:

It is not an impeachable offense for the president of the United States to condition aid to a foreign government on the delivery of personal favors to himself……(nor) to demand that a foreign head of state dish dirt on the president’s political opponents—or demand that he make dirt up if none is available to dish…..(nor) to push a foreign law-enforcement agency to investigate a US citizen for conduct no US law-enforcement agency has found to warrant an investigation. 

Abuse of power is not an impeachable offense. The oath he swears to “faithfully execute” his duties and “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution” notwithstanding, the president is generally free to use his powers under Article II of the Constitution to benefit himself and harm those he disfavors.

None of this moved the Senate GOP caucus an whit, of course. Here’s Paul Krugman, in a piece called “How Zombies Are the GOP’s Soul,” on what he aptly calls the Walking Dead:

(E)veryone in Washington understands perfectly well that Donald Trump abused the powers of his office in an attempt to rig this year’s presidential election. But Senate Republicans are nonetheless about to acquit him without even pretending to look at the evidence, thereby encouraging further abuses of power…..

I guess you might have hoped that there would be some limits to what these apparatchiks would accept, that even they would draw the line at gross abuses of power and collusion with foreign autocrats. What we’ve learned, however—and perhaps more important, what Trump has learned—is that there is no line. If Trump wants to dismantle democracy and rule of law (which he does), his party will stand with him all the way.

Seconding that thought, Krugman’s Times colleague David Leonhardt wrote of the simple reason Trump does what he does: “Because he can.”

(T)he current Republican Party cares more about holding on to power than anything else. In service of this goal, the party has even fought democracy, be it preventing American citizens from voting, changing the rules for Supreme Court nominations, stripping authority from incoming governors or running an impeachment trial unconcerned with facts…..

The country is left with a president who has spent decades doing whatever he thinks is in his self-interest—and a political party willing to protect that president. Staying in power trumps all. That, of course, is the ideology of autocracy.

In his eloquent closing statement, lead House manager Adam Schiff plaintively asked of these zombie Republicans: “Every single vote, even a single vote by a single member, can change the course of history…..It is said that a single man or woman of courage makes a majority. Is there one among you, who will say, Enough?’”

There was one, and only one.

“BELIEVE IN AMERICA”

Here is Mitt Romney his speech on the Senate floor, explaining his courageous decision to buck Donald Trump, Moscow Mitch, and the entire flaming cesspool that is MAGA Nation in order to do the right goddam thing (sorry—Lord’s name in vain):

The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanor.”

Yes, he did.

The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.

The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so.

The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.

The President’s purpose was personal and political.

Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.

What he did was not “perfect”—No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.

Impressive. I have long disagreed with many of Romney’s ideological positions, but his courage and integrity here are beyond a doubt, particularly given the vitriol that was immediately unleashed on him from his right flank.

Reportedly Mitt’s act of courage caught Trump off guard—as he’s unfamiliar with the concept—causing the White House to cancel a scheduled Rose Garden appearance with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. (Or maybe Juan just refused to go to a mike and announce an investigation into the Bidens.) Mitt also robbed Trump of his expected chance to crow about absolute party solidarity, just as the steadfastness of red state Democratic Senators Jones and Manchin robbed Trump of the chance to claim “bipartisan exoneration.”

That Mitt stands alone as a hero for recognizing that’s wrong to try to steal an election shows just how far and how low the GOP has fallen.

That is not to minimize his bravery. Romney is already paying the price in the vicious, vituperative verbal attacks from Trump himself, his spokespeople, children, other Republicans, as well as the larger corpus of mouthbreathing troglodytes who drink deep from the Kool Aid trough. Physical threats are sure to follow, if they have not already. Just yesterday that great Republican stalwart Donald Trump Jr. called from Mitt’s expulsion from the party, which is like Carrot Top calling for Richard Pryor’s expulsion from the Comedy Hall of Fame. Junior also re-posted a meme calling Romney a “pussy” (raising the question: did his dad try to grab him?), reflecting the sub-juvenile level of political discourse from the kakistocrats who are our ruling family.

(Can I get some props for being, I am quite sure, the first person ever to compare Mitt Romney to Richard Pryor?)

So everything you need to know about the descent of the Republican Party into the sewer is there in Mitt Romney’s fall from GOP standard bearer and presidential candidate in 2008 to pariah in 2020. Romney represents a kind of respectable, reasonable Republicanism that is pretty much dead, its other prominent practitioners (Kristol, Jolly, Boot, Rubin, Wilson, Steele, among others) having already fled the party. As one social media post succinctly put it, “I didn’t vote for him in 2012, but I didn’t fear a President Romney.”

This week he earned his proud place in history just as surely as every last one of his 52 colleagues earned theirs in infamy.

WELCOME TO THE AUTOCRACY

Back in the jaundiced land of yellow-bellied bootlickers, the folly of Collins’ absurd faith in Donald Trump’s inherent goodness was exposed immediately, not only with Trump’s sneering rebuke of her, but with statements that starting coming out of the White House and from senior GOP officials as soon as the “no witnesses” vote passed last Friday. Trump’s (non)acquittal hadn’t even happened yet when his allies began weaponizing the power of the federal government to persecute his political opponents—just like they do in an authoritarian regime like the ones Trump so openly admires. Which we now arguably are.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox News that there should be retribution for Democrats and others who pursued impeachment (e.g., Schiff, Nadler, Romney, Pelosi, Bolton, et al,) and that in his upcoming speech to the nation Trump would speak about “how horribly he was treated, and maybe people should pay for that.” Chuck Grassley announced a Senate investigation into Hunter Biden. The loathsome Lindsey Graham announced that the Senate would investigate the whistleblower. (Ah, their obsession.) There were reports that Trump wants John Bolton criminally prosecuted for mishandling classified material—one of the greatest hits from Trump’s 2016 bag of tricks, even as it’s the height of irony.

Today the White House fired Gordon Sondland as US Ambassador to the EU and made a show of pushing out LTC Alexander Vindman, who was due for normal reassignment, but whose transfer is being showcased as part of Trump’s purge. Both Vindman and his twin brother Yevgeny, also an Army lieutenant colonel assigned to the National Security Council staff, were escorted out of the White House by security officers—a spectacle as chilling and ironic as it was petty. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) proposed changing the Constitution to make impeachment harder by requiring require a three-fifth vote of the House rather than a simple majority. (Uh, didn’t we just learn how fucking hard it already is? Scott Matthews suggested the addendum that Democrats only count as three-fifths of a person.) That would track with newly converted presidential power fan Ken Starr’s pearl-clutching fear that impeachment is becoming a partisan tool. Perish the thought!

Of course, if anyone knows about being a partisan tool, it’s Ken Starr.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is precisely the kind of vindictive persecution of his enemies, unshackled from any worry of Congressional or judicial oversight, that critics feared and predicted would ensue were the Senate to excuse Trump’s behavior in Ukrainegate. Was there ever any doubt that it would happen? Or did Trump’s gentle, forgiving, Christ-like personality and lifelong devotion to humility and common decency make you think otherwise?

Remember, Trump made the infamous July 25, 2019 Zelenskyy call THE VERY NEXT DAY AFTER the special counsel probe was laid to rest with Mueller’s anti-climactic House testimony. Now, emboldened even further after skating away from this second existential threat, he and his surrogates have brazenly announced that he is out for revenge for those who challenged him, and will use the full power of the presidency—indeed the unfettered power of a despot—to obtain it. He has also made it clear that he will continue doing the exact thing that got him impeached.

Because the GOP just told him that he can.

And it’s only just beginning. This slippery slope to autocracy is likely the most alarming part of the whole Senate charade.

The editorial board of the New York Times:

Even before the acquittal, the State of the Union address made clear that Mr. Trump—enabled, as in his business life, by his exceptional shamelessness—intends to deploy every power available to a president in pursuit of his re-election. If there remained any doubts on that score, they were dispelled when Melania Trump hung the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Rush Limbaugh’s neck…..

He can do whatever it takes to win re-election, and the Republican Party will have his back.

I would add that “whatever it takes to win re-election” is not an anodyne sports cliché in this case, and certainly not confined to only what is legal. The shameful GOP ranks-closing in acquitting Trump of his illegal attempts to cheat in the 2020 election—atop its years of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and spreading of disinformation about voter fraud—is a blaring claxon announcing that the Republican Party actively intends to steal the election by any means necessary.

Don’t say we weren’t warned.

CALIGULA WITH THE BOMB

Republicans obviously don’t give a damn about the damage to the rule of law, to our system of government, or to anything else. As Jelani Cobb wrote in the New Yorker, that may come back to bite them in the ass, if the republic survives at all and they are ever evicted from power. Then again, democracy may have died in darkness long before that can come to pass, as they clearly have no intention of surrendering power.

Former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt offered the grim observation that Donald Trump is now more powerful than any US president in history, including Washington, Lincoln, and FDR……and he ain’t exactly shy and retiring about using it. If he can order an investigation of the last Vice President (shades of Edge of Democracy, and Brazil’s Lula/Dilma/Bolsonaro nightmare), he can order it of any American, using the DOJ, FBI, IRS, CBP, and the rest of the federal alphabet soup.

Schmidt was referring to political power, given that Trump has a compliant Republican Party and GOP-controlled Senate behind him that will submissively bow to his every whim, no matter how illegal or simply batshit, as well as an increasingly right wing federal judiciary, including a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court (featuring two justices who owe him their seats). If he wins a second term he is likely to have a 7-2 right wing SCOTUS majority, four of whom he put there.

At the federal level, only the House is a brake on him, and as we saw this week, not a very powerful one. (And only as long as the Democrats can hold it.)

But Trump is also insanely—and I do mean insanely—powerful in sheer physical terms. Thanks to his control of the nuclear arsenal—which he can launch without any consultation with the other branches of government or the US military—he literally has more power than any human being who has ever lived, including all the Caesars, Napoleon, Queen Victoria, and Hitler. (Quibble: it’s a dead heat with his man-crush Vlad Putin, whose nuclear arsenal is smaller, but whose ironclad one-man rule is undeniably even more ironclady.)

That sounds right, doesn’t it? The most unqualified, proudly ignorant, morally bankrupt, dumbass lucky and undeserving motherfucker ever to sit behind the Resolute Desk is of course the one who has grabbed the most power. And now, at last, he has the go-ahead to use it with impunity.

To that end, Susan Glasser writing in the New Yorker is a helluva lot smarter than Susan Collins sitting in the US Senate.

From here on, there can be no more illusions.

Until the voters render their verdict in November, Trump will be the President he has always wanted to be: inescapable, all-powerful, and completely unaccountable.

LET US PREY

I just heard that Trump is going to give the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Ivanka.

Not true, but for a moment you thought it might be, didn’t you? Because none of us would be shocked if it happened.

It was fitting that on the eve of his escape from justice, Trump staged the State of the Union address as gauche reality TV spectacle. As a Twitter user called A. Sharon wrote, “It just perfectly encapsulates the Trump administration’s massive and absolute incompetence when Rush Limbaugh and a 100-year-old Tuskegee Airman are in the same room and Rush Limbaugh is the one going home with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

That’s like giving Jeffrey Epstein an award for mentoring young girls.

The medal for Limbaugh is an obscenity all by itself, but consider this: This past fall Trump gave a lesser award to Rick Rescorla, whom I was privileged to know, a Vietnam War hero who saved the lives of 6000 Morgan Stanley Dean Witter employees on 9/11, before perishing himself when he went back into the towers to search for stragglers.

Res ipsa loquitur.

At the end of the SOTU Nancy Pelosi calmly tore her copy of Trump‘s speech in half after, causing Don Jr—again—to sink to the occasion and suggest she should be jailed. (Boys, these guys sure have a fetish for locking up powerful women, don’t they?) He’s half right: someone definitely belongs in jail, but it damn sure ain’t her. Meanwhile Matt Gaetzof course!—acted on the boy prince’s suggestion, filing an ethics complaint against the Speaker. I say again, an ethics complaint. From Matt Gaetz. On behalf of Donald Trump. And with No Discernible Irony.

Even so, many, even on the left, fell back on their fainting couches and scolded the Speaker for sinking to Senior’s level. (Many of them the same pundits who lament that the Democrats have not successfully figured out how to fight on the new political battlefield that Trump created.) But without the speech-tearing-up, the story the next morning would have been all about how he “owned” her with that handshake snub. Instead she deftly flipped the script when she ripped the script. (YSWIDT?)

But as we know, when a Republican (especially a man) does something aggressive he’s praised as an alpha. When a Democrat (especially a woman) does it, even just in self-defense, she’s attacked for being rude, if not worse. Much worse.

But as usual, Nancy cannily eviscerated the fake outrage over her gesture:

“I don’t need any lessons from anybody, especially the president of the United States, about dignity. It’s appalling the things that he says. And then you say to me: ‘Tearing up his falsehoods, isn’t that the wrong message?’ No, it isn’t,” she said, adding: “I feel very liberated. I feel that I’ve extended every possible courtesy. I’ve shown every level of respect.”

The next day came Don’s appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast, where the existence of God was disproven when he didn’t burst into flame the moment he walked into the room. Trump’s speech there was a masterpiece of projection and dishonesty for the ages, worthy of the worst fascist despot you care to name. (The Onion headline read, “ Trump Spends National Prayer Breakfast Attacking God for Allowing Impeachment to Even Happen.” Distance between satire and reality: about one millimeter.)

But everything Trump does beggars the most outrageous satire. The prayer breakfast atrocity was just the logical extension of a vicious Republican perversion of truth that goes back at least to McCarthy. A prominent signpost: the Swift Boating of war hero John Kerry by draft dodger George W. Bush. Up is down, night is day, war is peace, freedom is slavery.

What’s really fascinating is that Trump’s speeches of the last few days, like his pronouncements after dodging the Russiagate scandal, are less triumphant than they are merely livid.

Before his (non)acquittal, I read the word “gloat” a lot in reference to how he was expected to act once McConnell gave him his get-out-of-jail-free card. He hasn’t disappointed. But truly, what does he have to gloat about? Not that he was cleared in a fair trial—only that he exerts such Simon Legree-like command of his servile minions that he demanded this unquestioning obedience and they meekly complied.

Trump himself seems to recognize this, if only subconsciously. Following the prayer breakfast, he gave a speech from the East Room of the White House that Charlie Sykes, writing in the Bulwark, called a “Festival of Grievances.” Here again he less crowed over his triumph than fulminated that he had to go through this ordeal at all. (Poor baby. A word of advice, in order to avoid this in the future: maybe don’t commit so many crimes.)

Sykes:

Trump described his enemies as evil, corrupt, leakers, liars, lowlifes, sleazebags, and dirty cops. “Adam Schiff is a vicious, horrible person,” Trump told his eager minions. “Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person.” It was a pure Trumpian stream of consciousness: self pity, bitterness, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, sniffs, anger, mockery, self pity, James Comey, sniffs, the dossier, Hillary, Obama, conspiracy theories, Russia, self pity, Mitt Romney, payback, Hunter Biden, sniffs, insults, Robert Mueller, the FBI, bullshit, self pity… 

Through it all ran the theme of Trump as Victim. No one had ever been treated as badly as he had been. He didn’t know “if other presidents would have been able to take it.”

But by all means, let’s excoriate Nancy Pelosi for tearing up a piece of paper.

What America saw….was Trump in full. There was no expression of regret, no grace notes, no appeals to the better angels of our nature. Instead we got a raw, bitter, unhinged rant of crazy. Two of them, in fact. And it was all perfectly on brand.

Trump is a man unconstrained by the demands of decency or conscience, logic or consistency, and he clearly revels in the license these freedoms afford him. However feckless some of his former aides may have been, it is clear that Trump now occupies a world in which no one tells him no, or cautions him against improprieties, or urges graciousness, or pleads with him to be presidential, or responsible, or even coherent.

As these eyepopping performances demonstrated, Donald Trump is not a happy boy. For a man who has enjoyed seven and a half decades of outrageous and undeserved good luck and privilege, who has been coddled and protected and shielded from consequence even as he engaged in the most despicable behavior his whole life long, who improbably rose to the highest office in the land without a shred of the necessary qualifications, he is nonetheless a roiling ball of rage and resentment 24/7. (Look at his signature, graphologists.) As I noted a week or so ago, that is one of the few things about his reign that gives me any solace. But of course it is really a tragedy for him and for us both.

We long ago learned that this infantile behavior, which would have sunk any previous American politician, let alone a presidential candidate, is exactly what his slavish disciples relish about him. They don’t love him in spite of it—they love him because of it. Sykes again:

Trump’s casual cruelty and off-the-cuff vindictiveness is no longer a bug; it is the product differentiator, the special sauce, the killer app of Trumpism. It is precisely what his admirers cling to most fervently. Many of them no longer even try to pretend that they are loyal to his policies, rather than his person.

Many a graduate dissertation will surely be written about how millions of Americans came to a point of nihilism that obsidian. But in the mean time, they are damn hard to reason with.

THE NIGHT THEY DROVE DEMOCRACY DOWN

So was the impeachment worth it? I have long argued that it would be regardless of the result, and I stand by that.

Yeah, I know Trump’s approval went up a little, due largely to increased fervor of his rabid base. But you don’t beat a bully by being too timid to fight back and too afraid of making him or his followers angry. Going into November Trump was gonna gyrate them into a mouth-foaming fury with one thing or another……if not with this, then with something else.

The Democratic Party stood up for the rule of law, laid down a marker for behavior that America (at least some of it) will not tolerate, and did it all knowing that they would not win in the Senate. Schiff’s aforementioned closing statement, which is already being called the “Midnight in Washington” speech, was profound and epic. For generations to come, when the name “Donald Trump” is nothing more than an obscenity whose origins are lost in time, schoolchildren will still be reading it. (Hopefully not in a textbook called “The Collapse of American Democracy.”) A close second to Schiff’s eloquence was Hakeem Jefferies’ “America is in the wilderness…..and the eyes of history are watching.”

In a New York Times op-ed, Neal Katyal and Joshua Geltzer write:

The Democrats were told constantly that impeachment would hurt them in November. Mr. Trump himself has boasted that it will, and what’s more he has relished the chance to claim exoneration and to take a victory lap at the same time as Democratic hopefuls began duking it out in earnest in the primaries. The Democrats knew all this, and what’s more, they knew they faced an uphill battle: That’s what the constitutional requirement of a two-thirds Senate majority to convict imposes from the beginning.

But they still did the right thing. They called out impropriety so glaring that it could not be suffered in silence. And they reminded all of us that a political party can pursue what’s right over what’s expedient.

Looping back to Michael Che’s joke, Trump’s (non)acquittal was very reminiscent of OJ’s, an analogy I made before when Bob Mueller declined to make a determination about Donny’s conduct in Russiagate. Truly, these two rich and privileged men—friends, I hasten to note—are the two least deserving beneficiaries of a broken justice system one can imagine. They even had the same disreputable lawyer.

But now that it’s over, where do we go from here?

We are constantly being told—especially by Republicans—that the election is the best remedy for addressing Trump’s unfitness, should one hold that view of him. But by excusing his actions—which concerned rigging an election—the GOP is bluntly announcing that it does not intend to hold a fair election at all.

As the author Michael Gruber argues, it is clear that the Republican Party not only condones foreign interference in US elections (on its behalf only), but actively desires it, as that is one of the few ways that the GOP can continue to win elections in this country with demographics that are increasingly trending against them, clinging to an ever-diminishing base of aging white people, Christian evangelicals, gun nuts, racists, and other John Birch-y fellow travelers.

And now they have codified that plan, and given it the stamp of Congressional approval.

If I were Bernie, I’d immediately call on Russia, China, Israel & Saudi Arabia to release any info they have about Donald Trump’s finances & to open investigations into Don Jr, Eric, Ivanka & Tiffany. After all, the Senate just affirmed that it’s totally OK to do that. Right?

We’re heading into some pitch black darkness, my friends, and I am not confident in the ability of the American people or our institutions to come out in any recognizable form on the other side. We best gird ourselves for a fight, on multiple fronts, and not underestimate the fervor, venality, or underhandedness of our foe.

Let’s give Mitt Romney the final word. He deserves it:

I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the President from office. The results of this Senate Court will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgment of the American people. Voters will make the final decision, just as the President’s lawyers have implored. My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate. But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong.

We’re all footnotes at best in the annals of history. But in the most powerful nation on earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that is distinction enough for any citizen.

**********

Hat tip to Guy Maddin.

Painting, Jacques-Louis David, 1808: “Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of the Empress Josephine in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, December 2, 1804.” Oil on canvas, the Louvre.

 

 

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