What's Tony Thinking

Impeachment Moves Forward


I was interested to see that former Senator, Slade Gorton, a Republican, has weighed in favoring the impeachment of Donald Trump. I wondered what Gorton was thinking about all this. He termed Trump’s call to the Ukraine President Zelenskiy, “A pure shakedown.”

The way things are shaping up the debate is not whether Trump was engineering “a shakedown,” (U.S. military aid in exchange for you looking for dirt on my political opponent), but whether it’s really that big a deal and an impeachable offense. Which, to be fair, is what Democrats and Clinton supporters said about Clinton.

Given the testimonies, including Trump’s own words, there doesn’t seem much doubt that he was using his office and twisting U.S. foreign policy for his personal political interests. Even the Republicans appear to be willing to admit that. Their response is, “Not that big a deal.” “Not an impeachable offense.” “Get over it.”

In the movie “Broadcast News,” the character played by William Hurt protests attempts to nail him for ethically dubious moves. He, says, memorably, “How can I have crossed the line? They keep moving it.” Indeed.

In the Trump era the line as to what is ethical or constitutional is on the move at a dizzying pace.

And in a way Trump benefits from his own very casual relationship with truth and fact. He so regularly prevaricates, distorts and manipulates that it becomes difficult to know what would be “a big deal.” He apparently thought that standing on New York’s Fifth Avenue and shooting someone would not be “a big deal.”

Earlier in this process I expressed my misgivings about impeachment. I still worry that it will prove a tactical political miscue. And I am not at all enthused about the prospect of a President Pence, in the unlikely event that Trump is removed from office.

But it now seems to me that the Congress has no choice but to investigate and impeach Trump given what has become clear about his Ukrainian shakedown.

He insists his call to the Ukrainian President was “perfect.” I have noted previously that Mr. Trump has never felt any need for forgiveness because he has “never done anything wrong.” That continues to be his m.o. “I’ve done nothing wrong.” That could be his undoing. Americans tend to prefer penitence to arrogance.

Republicans seem to be moving in the direction of an argument that says, “Yeah, it was probably wrong, but it’s just not that big a deal. Not an impeachable offense.” Which raises the question, “What would be?” Sex with an intern in the White House?

There’s a fair bit of irony here as the Republicans have presented themselves for decades now as the party of probity, law and order, bedrock American values, etc.

So, my thinking at this point is that the impeachment inquiry needs to go ahead — else we agree to live in an anomic world and nation — but that, barring spectacular revelations, it will end as so much else does, in partisan gridlock. The Senate will not convict (again, barring spectacular revelations).

Maybe that’s not so bad.

All along, I’ve believed that it would be preferable to have Donald Trump removed by a vote of the people, that is, by the 2020 election.

Nevertheless, I am cautiously optimistic that an impeachment inquiry, even if it is not sustained in the Senate, will damage Trump and not strengthen him.

Still, the Democrats will have to come up with a candidate who can beat Trump. And it remains unclear who that might be. While I have contributed money to Joe Biden’s campaign his debate performances and handling of the Ukraine thing have left me nervous. Apparently, I am not the only one. His poll numbers and financial support is slipping.

I think Warren — “I will eliminate private health insurance” — is unelectable.

I have also contributed to Senator Amy Klobuchar’s campaign. But I’m not convinced she’s any kind of sure thing. Although I do think a Klobuchar/ Booker ticket might be pretty attractive.

I just don’t know if Joe Biden, who is a good guy, is smart enough and crafty enough to beat Trump.

So impeachment moves forward. Where it goes, I do not know.

What’s the Chinese curse? “May you live in interesting times.” The times are certainly interesting. Are we cursed or blessed? Time, and our own many decisions, will tell.




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