If you are a diehard President Trump supporter you either don’t see it or don’t care but it seems rather obvious that he and his gang are running the administration like a mob racket. Your defense is likely — “they all do it” (Republican and Democrat).
I’m reminded of a line in a movie about World War II and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It seems there was a certain corrupt dictator in Central America that the U.S. needed to be on our side. “He’s a son of a bitch (FDR said) but he’s our son of a bitch!”
(That probably holds true for all the corrupt anti-democracy dictators the U.S. has supported and continues to support in some cases even today.)
So both Trump supporters among the electorate and in both houses of the congress seem to feel that way: he’s a son of a bitch but he’s ours.
When I write these things I always take pains to let the reader know that I am not a Trump supporter — never have been, never could be. I don’t like his politics and I don’t like his attitude and his crude and threatening behavior.
But I live out in the real world of American working people, not the upper class, not the non-working class, not the upper middle class, just common everyday folks. Even if I often do not agree with some of the common attitudes I get where they come from. So does Trump, now that I think of it. That is what gets him over. He plays upon ignorance and prejudice.
In saying all that I just said (or wrote) I do not suggest that others before him have not done much the same but usually in a more careful or subtle manner at times (Trump is just a blunt instrument).
So this impeachment thing. The Democrats are going to have to discover, if they have not already and just not released it, waiting for dramatic effect, a true smoking gun that no one can argue with. Something like the Butterfield tapes in the Nixon case that forced President Nixon to resign in order to avoid the further shame of impeachment and conviction.
However, even though there has been a lot of obvious corruption, such as Trump and his children profiting commercially from his presidency, putting their collective fortunes over the needs of the people, it seems more likely that some sacrificial lamb will be, well, sacrificed. Some suggest former New York mayor turned mafia-like actor Rudy Giuliani.
But you know what jumped out at me in the very first day of the impeachment hearings? Glad you asked. The fact that the Cold War, which I had thought ended about 30 years ago with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union and the freeing of Eastern Europe from the chains of communism directed from Moscow, never ended or more precisely got a new birth.
It seems that Vladimir Putin, a former secret police officer with the Soviets and now dictator of Russia, started it up again. Russia is every bit the adversary on the world stage today as it was under its old name — The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. So is China, an adversary (which still is communist), and even more so. It seems that Nixon with his reaching out to China and establishing relations with it awakened a sleeping giant who threatens to overtake the U.S. as leader and top economic power in the world.
But the disturbing thing to me that came out of the hearings is that we (the U.S.) are still in the business of nation building, the same business that has caused us so much woe, that has taken such a deadly toll on us in the past,i.e., Vietnam, Iraq, and even Afghanistan and Syria today.
Vietnam of course was a pure proxy war. Since neither the U.S. nor the Soviet Union wanted to fight each other directly because it would mean lobbing nuclear missiles at one another with the quick end result being mutual destruction of each other and most likely the whole of planet earth, we had others fill in. Instead our proxy was South Vietnam and their proxy was North Vietnam. Originally it was just Vietnam but the nation was divided artifically. We propped up dictators (not democracies) in the south and the Soviet Union, and to a lesser extent China, backed up the communist dictator in the north.
And since the south did not seem to have the power or stomach to fight off the north we poured our own military into the war and spilled a tragic amount of American blood only to give up some ten years down the road and let the whole place fall to the communists. It is communist today and a peaceful trading partner with the U.S. So what was the purpose of that war?
We may have wanted an American-style democracy for the south but that would have had to come later, after fending off a communist insurgency in the south supported by the soviets and the North Vietnamese regular army (who backed up the so-called Viet Cong guerilla fighters of the south).
As far as I am concerned the Middle East quagmires we got into had more to do with saving our sources of oil and world trade routes than a desire to fight the forces against democracy. But, yes, we were or are fighting a kind of proxy against Russia.
Whatever. I question how far the U.S. should go in nation building or whether we should even try. It would seem we have our hands full taking care of our own people. Have you noticed the every-growing population of homeless right here at home? Have you noticed our own breakdown of society that manifests itself in mass shootings?
We need to get our own house in order.
But back to the impeachment again: the story being told so far is that Trump bypassed normal diplomatic channels hanging out career foreign service personnel to dry. I don’t think that is unusual — regrettable but not unusual.
Worse than that, though, it seems that Trump and his cronies maligned career personnel, primarily an ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. And worst of all, even as she was testifying before the impeachment committee, Trump tweeted derogatory and false things about her. He also had previously — at least reportedly — made what seemed like threatening statements against her that could have come right out of an organized crime movie script, assuring the leader of Ukraine that she would “go through some bad stuff”. She was removed from her post, told that she had lost the confidence of the president. The president does have the right to choose and un-choose his own ambassadors — bad mouth and threaten them? I don’t think so.
Without going into all the complicated detail in all of this, on the one hand, any number of things Trump has done I think could be impeachable and grounds for throwing him out of office. And that is because they are bad and that his acts do not have to meet any normal legal standard in a court of law to meet the constitutional requirements of “high crimes and misdeameanors”. And that is because those things are not spelled out in the constitution. Impeachment is a political process primarily. Should it be used simply as a tool by an opposing political party? I do not think so. I believe the first impeachment, Andrew Johnson, in the 19th Century, which did not lead to conviction, was partisan. So it happens. Nixon’s almost impeachment that led to his resignation turned out in the end to be bipartisan. Bill Clinton’s impeachment but not conviction was almost totally partisan.
This one against Trump: certainly political but certainly justified at the same time. But being right does not always guaranteee victory. Public pressure would lead to Trump’s ouster.
That will just as likely, or actually more than likely, come a year from now if it is to come, in a vote of the people called the presidential election — notwithstanding that so far elusive smoking gun.
But I have come to believe the impeachment proceedings are a good thing in that they get things out there clearly for all to see.
They are very enlightening. People who actually read and listen to more than just what they want to read and listen to have an opportunity to sort through it all and make up their own minds.
And the Republicans, in general, do not seem yet to know quite how to handle it. They are working through denial at the moment.