High Crimes and His Demeanor, Part Two

(Photo: Reuters / Graphics: Brian Covert)

In the end, one political party found its backbone, another party sold its soul to the fire down below, one senator found righteousness in religion, and one president finally achieved something he could crow about as a “victory”. That, in a nutshell, is the legacy of the impeachment trial in Washington DC of Donald J. Trump, the fake 45th president of the United States, that resulted in his acquittal instead of dismissal from office.

Ah, if only it ended there. The Democratic Party, so unbowed and unbullied by Trump during the impeachment hearings, will go on to bigger and better things, surely. But will it actually defeat Trump in the trial that matters most — the presidential election later this year? The signs of the Democrats doing so don’t look really good at the moment. Democracy truly hangs in the balance this time, and if The Great Orange One is back in office for another four years, the Democrats will only have themselves to blame for that.

Deal of the Century…with the Devil

During the last few days of the impeachment trial, FPOTUS Trump invited Benjamin Netanyahu, the corruption scandal-tainted prime minister of Israel, to Washington to announce a quote-unquote “peace plan” that Trump promoted in the media as The Deal of the Century. No sooner had these two extreme-rightist leaders announced the dubious plan than the Palestinian burning of American and Israeli flags in outrage began to appear in the media. So much for that peace plan!

Perhaps the problem was in Trump marketing his so-called Deal of the Century with the wrong project. Trump probably should have saved that awe-inspiring title for what happened just a few days later in the United States Senate during his impeachment trial.

Yes, the real Deal of the Century was between Trump and a far-right-wing senator from Kentucky named Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr. — a “war plan” of sorts that was sealed with a Judas kiss months ago. Mitch McConnell, as the Republican Party majority leader in the Senate, conspired with Trump to rig the game, to guarantee the outcome of the vote on the Senate floor, long before 100 senators marched into their sacred chamber in the U.S. Capitol and swore an oath to God to do “impartial justice” in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The forces of evil, not good, ruled the day, and McConnell delivered to Trump just what the two had worked out beforehand. So, Trump was acquitted in the impeachment trial and walked away scot-free, while the Republican Party in the USA effectively sold its political soul to the devil. That was the real Deal of the Century that Trump should have been promoting in the media, not the one with Israel. And all those Republicans in the U.S. Senate will now have the selling out of their party and their country to contend with when the electoral judgment day does come later this year in November, as the nation votes on who it really wants as the next U.S. president.

‘The People Will Judge Us’

That political hand-job of Trump by the U.S. Senate Republicans, however, did not climax completely free of friction. One U.S. senator, Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, announced in the Senate chamber beforehand that he intended to cast a vote for Trump’s guilt.

“This verdict is ours to render. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfilled our duty. 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’”, Romney stated. “Yes, he did.”

Romney’s moral conscience was only on half-display, not full display: Romney did indeed cast his vote against Trump on the first impeachment charge of abuse of power, but on the second charge of obstruction of Congress, Romney voted against it, giving Trump a free pass. Either way, Romney’s votes made little difference. His party voted overwhelmingly to acquit Trump that day, and now Romney has since been banished by the Republican Party to a political Siberia, where he will likely dwell for a long time.

That said, Romney had it right on one important point: The people will indeed judge those who voted for and against Trump’s impeachment in the months-long process. History will have the last word on the real Deal of the Century that the U.S. Senate negotiated beforehand with FPOTUS Trump, ending in his acquittal. And many of us who are students of history are convinced that the passage of time will not be kind to this act of Republican cowardice. They will be judged harshly over time, just as they already are now.

And of course, as we all had expected would happen, Trump took off to the barnyard like a strutting rooster full of bluster and ego after his acquittal, and the bullying and veiled threats against his political enemies did not take long to surface. Yet his moment in the sun was not all bright. One act of defiance managed to permanently stain the impeachment victory for him.

That moment occurred just the day before the Senate’s impeachment vote, while Trump was delivering his annual state of the union address in the other chamber of the U.S. Congress, the House of Representatives. Following FPOTUS Trump’s bellicose speech — one full of lies, half-truths, exaggerations and boasting, as most of his public addresses are — majority House speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, held up the papers on which Trump’s speech text had been printed and ripped them up as a show of protest and defiance.

I was actually watching that event live at the time and had to do a double-take: Wait a minute, was that Trump’s speech text Pelosi just tore up? Indeed, it was. Damn, a major diss! I could not believe that this was the same Nancy Pelosi who I have long loathed.

Like many others both within her own party and outside it, I have been critical of Pelosi over past decades now for the way she blocked the impeachment of president George W. Bush for war crimes around the time of the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. She acted likewise in the early years of the Trump presidency. As an influential leader of her party, Pelosi just had no stomach for impeachment of any U.S. president, saying it would divide the country too deeply.

But now, after watching Pelosi muster the sense of personal outrage to finally confront Trump and his wrongdoing throughout this impeachment process, I am prepared to say that Pelosi was right: Impeaching a U.S. president, or any leader of any country, is not something to be taken lightly. Impeaching someone is not a tool to be wielded blindly against a political enemy. It is divisive for a nation to have to go through that. And no nation in the world right now seems more politically divided right down the middle than the United States.

Make no mistake, though: I put the cause of the division just where it should be — on the shoulders of Trump, the fake president. He is the one who has sowed the seeds of hate in the United States, going all the way back to the 1980s, when he uttered those famous words “I want to hate” in calling for the execution of the falsely accused Black and Latino youths in the infamous Central Park jogger rape case in New York. At his core, Trump is a white supremacist who thinks little of people of color at home or abroad, and he has fully reflected that racism and hate in the policies he has carried out in office these past three years. Trump, in awarding the presidential medal of freedom to a practitioner of hate speech on the public airwaves, Rush Limbaugh, invited the culture of hate right into the congressional chamber during the fake president’s state of the union address this year.

The F-Factor

It seems to me, at this critical hour, that some time very soon Americans really need to start talking in this election season about the dirty F-word. No, not that one: I’m talking about the other F-word, fascism.

People overseas who are much more familiar with how fascism works in their societies watch in horror as neo-fascism raises its ugly head in the United States, land of the free and home of the brave. But this is nothing new. American author Sinclair Lewis wrote a political novel way back in 1935, in fact, titled It Can’t Happen Here as a cautionary tale, with “it” in the title referring to fascism and “here” referring to the USA. Lewis saw fascism as a very real threat even back then, and he was right. (You can check out the full text of the book here online.)

Experts in the social sciences have long known that the hollowing out of democratic institutions and the weakening of systems of government are what take place before fascism eventually barges through a nation’s front doors. The central European country of Hungary and its autocratic prime minister, Viktor Orbán (a big Trump fan) is a perfect case in point. Such hollowing-out and weakening processes have been well underway for decades in the U.S. and are moving ahead at breakneck speed today under Trump as well. People need to start talking more about the F-word of fascism, if they are going to have any chance of stopping Trump in his tracks in this presidential election campaign.

The Washington Post is reporting that right after Trump’s acquittal in the impeachment process, he came up with a Nixon-style “enemies list” of people upon whom he now plans to exact revenge for putting him through the hell of impeachment. Will this neo-fascist purge of Trump’s succeed? Author and professor Ariel Dorfman of Chile, a country well-acquainted with fascist dictatorship sponsored by the U.S. government, notes that Trump perfectly fits the profile of a would-be dictator and, like any such up-and-coming autocrat, he harbors within himself the seeds of his own downfall. My concern is: Just how much damage will Trump do to the country and the world in the meantime, before he falls someday — and isn’t there anything people can do to stop him?

The Democrats finding their backbone and a lone Republican senator finding his righteousness in religion, for all the good they stand for, will not be enough to take Trump down. And I’m not talking about assassination here; killing political opponents anywhere in the world has never solved anything in the long run. No, rather I’m talking about taking out of office a thoroughly corrupt president using every means at the public’s disposal: politically, financially, morally and legally.

In the end, is it all about Trump’s flagrant violation of high crimes and misdemeanors in the U.S. Constitution, as many of his accusers charge? Or is it all just a flaky, liberal problem with Trump’s personality — “high crimes and his demeanor,” as the fake president’s defenders would have us believe? We don’t need to wait around for the heavenly Judgment Day in the hereafter to tell us the answer on that score; we can see the monstrous threat right in front of us. The time to stop that threat is now, not after the election day.

(Photo: Huffington Post / Graphics: Brian Covert)

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