THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC MEETS THE BANANA REPUBLICANS: ANOTHER IMPEACHMENT TRAVESTY

Though I would need volumes to discuss thoroughly the impeachment debacle of last week, I feel compelled to share a few of my preliminary impressions of the most recent blow Trump and the Republicans have struck to American democracy.

First of all, the “trial” was, I believe, the coup de grâce to the barely breathing, last vestiges of hope for the existence of anything but corruption and rot in the Republican party. The Republicans could muster only one vote to convict Trump the last time he committed a set of obviously impeachable acts wrapped around the plethora of other crimes he had committed as president. This time, with American democracy on the line, they were able to muster all of seven votes out of fifty. Fourteen percent ain’t bad.

The case for the defense consisted essentially of the following:

  • The jurisdictional defense:  Remember, Trump was impeached while he was in office, and McConnell forced the breaking of the clear Constitutional mandate of starting the trial immediately. He essentially forced the trial to begin after Trump’s term was over. Historically, there are multiple precedents for impeachments to occur after the offender leaves office, in part because the process can be used to disqualify the offender from holding future office. Most Constitutional scholars agree with Ted Cruz, who said, “I believe the best reading of the Constitution is that the Senate retains jurisdiction.” He just didn’t want this prerogative to be used in cases where senators from Texas are in the midst of dewy dreams of running for president. In the end the Senate voted to use their plenary power. Case closed.
  • The Trump was not afforded due process defense: Ridiculous. An overwhelming number of serious scholars, both Conservative and Liberal, have opined in rejection of these arguments which they watched unfolding before their sober and critical eyes. Few serious scholars held for the affirmative. Even more tellingly, ten Republican House members voted with all of the Democrats, and seven senators voted with two independents and all of the Democrats in what must logically have been support of the legal legitimacy of the process. In the end, a significant, bipartisan majority of both houses soundly rejected these disingenuous distractions.
  • The whataboutism defense:  What about the things various Democrats have said in the past? First of all, they never lied for years in the ultimate service of an insurrection. Secondly, their supporters did not attack the United States Capitol and kill five people. In fact, most of the serious crimes committed during the Black Lives Matter protests were committed by anarchists or white supremacists (i.e., Trump supporters). Check with Christopher Wray if you don’t trust this puppy. And if we want to do whataboutism, what about the dozens of people shot and killed by Trump-supporting white supremacists over the past year and for years previously? We know that most crimes of domestic terrorism are committed by members of far-right fringe groups, almost all of whom are supporters of Trump and his Republican enablers. Further, the BLM protests involved millions of people all around the world and were done in the name of justice, a word the Republicans do not understand. (Republican Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee recently accused Pete Buttigieg, the new Secretary of Transportation, of the heinous crime of planning “…to use the department for social, racial, and environmental justice causes.” I must admit that I wasn’t aware that “Attempted Equity” was a crime.) The BLM protests were not about a deluge of lies designed to effect the overthrow of American Democracy, but rather about racial justice, a concept not abhorrent to Democrats. Finally, if specific things Democrats said or did were impeachable offenses, impeach them! If they have lied over and over and over again for months and then fomented an insurrection against our democracy, impeach them! If their supporters smashed up the United States Capitol and tried to zip tie Nancy Pelosi and assassinate her while hanging Mike Pence, impeach them! If their supporters built a functional gallows on Capitol property, impeach them! If their supporters violently broke into the seat of our government and injured dozens of its defenders while killing five, impeach them! If their supporters rifled through official files and documents and tore Congressional offices apart, impeach them! If their supporters appeared at an insurrection wearing buffalo horns, well…try not to laugh at them. Just ‘lock them up” with all due deliberation.
  • The First Amendment protects free speech defense: Right. It does. But try threatening someone or calling, “Fire” in a crowded theatre where there is no fire. In other words, try telling a lie which creates public chaos. We’ll see you in court.

In the end, as one commentator opined, fifty-seven senators voted on the record that Donald John Trump was guilty of inciting insurrection against his own government.

Even Mitch McConnell stated, on the floor of the Senate, that “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it.”

He said that the insurrectionists “did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth – because he was angry he’d lost an election.”

McConnell also said, “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president. And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.”

The entirety of the first half of his speech is worth reading. It is articulate and on point.

The second half amounted to an appeal to his donors and his potential voters, especially Independents, in his most critical opening move in the chess game that will determine who will be Senate majority leader in January of 2023. In the meantime, he must retain his power as minority leader, and he calculates that this will help. The question is whether his calculations considered the quiet, Machiavellian scheme to overthrow him currently being launched by Lindsey “No Room In Here For Food” Graham.

With respect to the proceedings themselves, the Republicans serially insinuated that this was a real trial, subject to all of the most arcane conventions of criminal law. They corruptly affected ignorance of the fact that this was an impeachment. They treated the proceeding as though it were bound by the rules and procedures of a standard criminal trial, which premise made much of what they argued completely irrelevant.

Amazingly, while asserting that the standards of a criminal trial must be assiduously adhered to at all times, the “jurors” repeatedly met with the defense team to plan strategy.

With respect to style and decorum, there were a number of breaches of order, such as the senior senator from Utah shouting from the floor his pained, indignant grievance that someone had lied about him. Irony is dead.

Not only did the defense lawyers, particularly Michael van der Veen, display arguably pathological anger in support of their clinically psychotic client, pounding fingers or fists on the lectern heavily enough to break a bone or the lectern itself, as well as gesticulating in a wild-eyed and aggressive manner, once or twice even doing some kind of enigmatic and perhaps cabalistic or occult dance,  but they also ignored any sense of the decorum of the Senate. They called more names and used more derisive qualifiers and nicknames than a puppy writing a blog.

To be clear, in one of the most august settings in the country, they were flat-out rude.

What struck me even more powerfully was that Trump’s defense team, consisting of a few lawyers and even more Republican senators, was breathtakingly, embarrassingly ignorant of both the content, structure, and purpose of the proceedings and the language in which they were held. The assumption going in was that the proceedings were to be held in English. SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t turn out that way.

The defense team itself, dubbed by one observer “Meandering and Furious,” quickly became “Meandering and Furious and Furiouser.”

Throughout, they morphed back and forth between “Meandering and Furious and Furiouser” and “Dumb and Dumber and Dumberer.”

Their defense was short but pointless. They used only a fraction of their allotted time, proffering the imbecilic excuse that they were keeping it short because the senators (this would include the Republicans) were chafing at the bit to end the proceedings and get after Covid relief. This may have been true for the Democrats. I suppose fifty percent ain’t bad.

To elucidate their false equivalency with respect to the above-referenced whataboutism argument, and after having repeatedly accused the Managers of obscuring context by doing such things as, for example, not playing tortuously long excerpts of Trump’s speech, they played a surrealistic, embarrassingly-irrelevant montage of human beings using the word “fight,” which must now be stricken (cancelled?) from the dictionary. Their “Fight Club Documentary” included such current or former United States presidents as Johnny Depp and Madonna.

They also used the impeccably rational “they hate him” defense. More than almost anything else, this puzzled me into a state of extreme befuddlement accompanied by pounding headaches. Did Eliot Ness “hate” Al Capone? Did the prosecutors from the Southern District of New York “hate” Bernie Madoff? Did the Republican House Impeachment Managers “hate” Bill Clinton? (I must concede that the Nuremberg judges had a rather sweet relationship with Hermann Göring.)

They also let slip from the sides of their mouths the word “hypocrisy” a number of times. As I said above, irony is dead.

With respect to their command of the King’s English, Sheridan’s Mrs. Malaprop or any number of the maladroit characters of Charles Dickens would have understood them perfectly.

Perhaps a more appropriate appellation for the team might have been, Mapaprop, Maladroit, and Maladjusted.

One of Trump’s lawyers said that the dishonest Managers had “picked and choosed” their evidence.

They repeatedly mispronounced the names of members of Congress and others, including, more than once, the name of the vice president of the United States of America, who, I would suspect they are aware, is a black woman. No offense intended, I’m sure.

I must applaud their patriotic efforts to “vinicate the Constitution,” which we all agree has aged like a fine wine.

The Managers’ case was described as malvent, perhaps indicating a blocked air duct or the origins of a nagging cough, either of which could have influenced the veracity and/or quality of the Managers’ presentation, and as incinderary, a clever reference to a relevant folk tale about an individual suffering similar slings and arrows.

Striking, even dispiriting, was a reference to the devastation wrought by the Liberals’ “Fight Club,” resulting in businesses being ramshackeled. A completely unjust accusation! After all, it was the friends of the president who brought zip ties.

All present were further shocked to learn that many of the sources used by the prosecution were anominous, by which I took them to mean having been named by unavowed parents.

In calling his home town “Phileedelphia” and his country the “Yoo-nited States of America,” Mr. van der Veen clearly demonstrated his extreme patriotism, in contrast to the attitudes of the prosecutors, who were engaged in a “manacle crusade” of injustice. (He couldn’t stop deflecting about the zip ties.)

In short, the defense clearly established, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the House Managers were following a “dark path of animity and division.”

I was moved by these terrifying scenarios of the felonious exploits of the  prosecutors turned defendants, but somewhat relieved to conclude that at least their animity wasn’t anominous.

Toward the end one of Trump’s lawyers summed up much of my point here when he said, “I’m not too adept at it neither.” Truer words was never spoke.

Post-impeachment remarks weren’t much brighter, highlighted by folks such as Ron Johnson, one rung on the evolutionary ladder below the Buffalo Man. His comments about how the rioters weren’t sufficiently armed to make the proceedings technically an insurrection were interesting and will perhaps trigger a debate as to what quality and quantity of weaponry would be sufficient to trigger the “We’re Really Here To Hurt You” clause of the Constitution. Clearly, the senior senator from Wisconsin is nature’s way of frightening humans into rushing out to get an education before they get caught sounding as stupid as he does.

Now, these examples of embarrassing ignorance are humorous. But the fact that the former Republican president of the United States of America had to use these morons to defend him in an impeachment trial is tragic for all of us. At least McConnell was compelled to slather some shame on the floor of the Senate. A few other Republicans expressed the same sentiments in one context or another. But all who did are now dead meat. They are retiring, stand censured, will be censured, or will be primaried by a member of the cabal of spiteful losers.

This is why one of my ongoing themes has been and will continue to be that the decent people of America must use their power to speak out peacefully and vote consistently in order to burn the Republican party to the ground. It has proven itself to be unworthy of having a voice in American democracy.

Or maybe not. Maybe our new creed should be this: “We here highly resolve that these dead shall have died in vain – that this banana republic, under Greed, shall have a new death of freedom – and that government of the corrupt, by the self-serving, for the autocrats, shall not cherish the earth.”  I don’t know. I’m just a puzzled puppy.

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