I saw the headlines: Republicans rate Trump above Lincoln. At first startling. But then I had to realize that for one thing this was just from a poll of which I have no idea how the question or questions were asked or the size of the sampling, and I don’t know much about the science of polling anyway.
Another thing, most people alive today know little to nothing about what things were really like in Lincoln’s day or really much about him. Unless we major in history, what we know is that from grade school on we were taught mostly that he was the guy who wore the funny stovepipe hat and freed the slaves, serving as president during the U.S. Civil War (called the “War Between the States”, in the South).
And even if you have read up on Abraham Lincoln, all that was then, a long time ago, in a world we would not understand in today’s terms.
Moreover, it seems the public mood has solidified on Trump — you’re either fer him or agin him. Facts do not matter (well especially on the Republican side but perhaps even on the other side to a degree — I know after what I have seen of Trump so far it would be impossible for me to support him).
Oh, I do know from hearing people talk that many don’t approve of all the things Trump does, especially his crude behavior, but somehow they see him as better than the alternative. Don’t ask me why.
Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that seeks to explain the allure of Trump among the masses. He speaks of “populist patriots” who reject the establishment of both the Democrats and the Republicans. I actually understand to a degree what he writes and maybe even agree with some of it and yet it leaves me somewhat baffled too. I don’t consider myself much different than say your average Trump enthusiast (except maybe I have paid a tad bit more attention to history and current events through the years). Trump does nothing for me, well except make me uneasy and concerned for our democracy and standing in the world.
(Jindal himself was an opponent of Trump and a critic of Trump’s narcissistic and crude behavior, but perhaps as a Republican political realist has come to support him. )
Trump did face a flawed candidate on the other side in 2016. Poor Hillary Clinton could not seem to relate in a sincere way to common people. And her line about putting coal miners out of business (out of context maybe; also she admitted to poor phrasing) used in the very areas where coal is an important part of the economy and where she eventually lost in the Electoral College voting, put the nails in the coffin for the Democrats (yes, even though she got 3 million more votes among the electorate). She was seen as someone more interested in grabbing millions of dollars in speaking fees from corporate entities. And then, unfortunately, when she acted tough, due to our sexist culture, she was seen as “pushy”, where a man (say Trump) would be seen as resolute, powerful, something we want in a leader
Geez! that makes it tough for women candidates. I mean I kind of like Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, but she seems so mousy at times, even if she did brave snowflakes in her presidential campaign announcement. She needs to be more strident — but then she runs the risk of being called a bit.., well you know. And you know who I have found to be the toughest on women who want to be tough? Other women. But I, a man, just have to say: “you go girl”.
And this impeachment of Trump thing. Just heard a political observer say the same thing I have concluded, that the Democrats are going to have to come up with something better than what they have to sway public opinion. It’s not that Trump has not done wrong, but it seems his acts have not done anything to move the needle on the frozen positions of each side of the debate, with the division clearly along party lines.
Let’s look at what the Democrats have zeroed in on for the impeachment: evidence, from Trump’s own statements even, indicates that the president tried to pressure the president of a foreign nation, Ukraine, to investigate Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States and opposing candidate to Trump, and to make a public announcement as such, in order to get military aid already authorized by congress but frozen by the Trump administration. So the charge is that Trump was trying to get a foreign power to intervene in a U.S. election — something that would seem clearly illegal.
But the aid was released without the investigation or announcement of — conveniently after Trump found out others were on to him. He has claimed he only was asking a favor and there was actually no quid pro quo demanded. I should add that simply not going forward with what seemed like blackmail or extortion or bribery is not a defense in that there is such a thing as “attempted crime” which is illegal.
However, all of this gets confusing in that most or all of what might have been said is recorded only in notes or memory and startlingly in an eavesdropped cell phone call from the president. He said, she said, they said, whatever.
Even so, there is enough evidence to make it plain that Trump wanted the Ukrainian president to publicly announce that he was investigating Biden and his son in connection with his son’s receiving what is reported to be millions of dollars for sitting on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm, whose chief was known to be corrupt, when he had no experience in the field but of course had a direct connection with the man who was the vice president at the time — his daddy.
Perhaps asking a foreign power to help the U.S. investigate wrongdoing involving American citizens is not in and of itself wrong but probably such a matter would properly be handled through the Justice Department — and the factor that the subject or one of the subjects of the investigation is a political opponent adds a troubling wrinkle to the whole thing. No sane person can question what Trump was trying to do — dig up dirt on a political opponent, using his powers as president.
But let’s see. A president of the United States involved in crime in connection with dealings with a foreign nation — how about murder? Although it was not completely new to me, I just read an account about how President John F. Kennedy sanctioned the coup against the then leader of South Vietnam that resulted in the murder of that leader and his brother. It seems a bit murky as to whether JFK realized such a coup would result in the murders, but he incriminates himself in a taped dictation as giving the go-ahead for the coup.
(This was in 1963. Ironically only a few weeks later, JFK was himself assassinated.)
I only bring this up to show that presidents, ranked as good or bad or in between, do bad stuff.
Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus (basically the right of arrested persons to appear before a judge) during the Civil War. There is some question as to whether that was legal on his part. No connection but he was of course assassinated. Oh, and no connection, but coincidentally his vice president and successor was impeached (but not convicted and removed from office).
But anyway, getting back to the central poin, if there is any, Trump is more likely to be removed from office by election of the people (well via the Electoral College) than impeachment. But the impeachment process is valuable to the extent it brings out facts/information that gives the electorate more to work with in making a decisions.
But just like the old adage that you can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it applies here: you can present the voters the facts but you can’t make them believe it all or even care.