A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Every day in Trumpland looks just like the day before, except it’s always worse. We wake up each morning and Trump is still in the White House. He piles lies upon lies upon more lies, until Trump himself doesn’t know which lie was last. His own? Don Junior’s? His attorney’s? His personal attorney’s?
Trump can’t remember which lie he’s trying to cover-up and which lie to ignore. And his cabinet members and press secretary are completely lost, babbling inside-out nonsense, often unable to complete an interview or press conference without being shot down by their own boss. The news media is working overtime with daily waves of breaking Trumpian madness, each story topping the previous. Trump’s 3:00 am tweet storm quickly disappears in the review mirror, all but forgotten by dinner time, replaced by Trump’s afternoon outgassings of perfidy that his Fox News base deeply inhales in willful self-delusion. Don’t light a match. The news cycle is like a rabid raccoon, on meth, chasing its own tail.
And the nation is exhausted, which appears to be the plan. We’ve been stuck in Trumpland, this roller coaster ride to hell, ever since the election.
Trump’s legal position is incredibly weak, but that doesn’t really matter because Mueller does not believe he can indict a sitting president. No US president has ever been charged with a crime (and not because they were saints). Mueller will, at the most, deliver a report to the congress regarding Trump’s criminality, and Trump’s impeachment will be decided by Trump’s “popularity” with congress and indirectly, Trump’s base. And so far, inconceivably, they still love him. This is why Giuliani and Fox News are on a mouth-frothing PR campaign, attacking Mueller with the most absurd claims and defending Trump with bedtime fantasies. This is Trumpland.
The logic against indicting a sitting president is that he/she is too busy doing his job to engage in a lengthy legal battle, which effectively sets a president free to commit any crime, and Trump is taking full advantage of this. I think perhaps the answer to this dilemma is to allow a sitting president to be indicted while in office, but prosecuted only after leaving. This approach might constrain those criminal, Trumpian impulses. (Note that most or all the crimes Trump may have committed have a five year statute of limitations.)
If this Republican congress doesn’t have the collective courage, integrity and honor to hold their party’s president accountable to our nation’s laws, the pile of laws Trump has most certainly broken, then it doesn’t matter what a special prosecutor might recommend, congress can choose to leave Trump in office until his term expires. I had naively assumed that the Constitution dealt with issues of serious criminality by the executive branch more forcefully, but in fact there is no clause that mandates impeachment for specific crimes or categories of crimes. Trump can break nearly any law, because impeachment today is just a popularity contest. Impeachment is optional. On top of that, an incoming president is free to pardon his predecessor, as with Gerald Ford’s pardoning of Nixon’s crimes. By the way, both were Republicans… Mr. Pence.
We know that Trump’s probable crimes include numerous acts of conspiracy with Russian state actors and several others to defraud the US government (election interference), numerous charges of obstruction of justice, several charges of bank fraud and money laundering, related income tax evasion, multiple conspiracy charges with Cohen in the Stormy Daniels affair, several counts of conspiracy to intimidate a witness and witness tampering, several counts of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws, and numerous ongoing violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, to name only a few. No other president has demonstrated such continuous and blatant contempt for our laws.
I suspect Trump’s claim might be true: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” But the victim would need to be black: “He was a black, up to no good selling those lose cigarettes! I just had to shoot him!” As long as Fox’s Jeanine Pirro justified it as a white-patriot act of courage, congress could leave a murderer in office until his term expired.
I think We the People have a romantic idea that somehow our government, our laws, congress, or maybe Superman, shields us from takeover by a despotic mad man, especially after the Nixon debacle. We were different. We were special, because this is America, the eternal fountain of true democracy in the world. It turns out that really is not the case. If we don’t defend our constitution and our laws, if we don’t demand justice, then we are as vulnerable to fascism as any other nation. In the end, it’s only words on paper, and they won’t defend themselves. Trump knows this.
So here we are. Trump cannot be indicted while in office and impeachment is a game show. Because this Republican congress loves their Narcissist in Chief, their very own Mussolini, the United States of America gets to suffer the dire consequences of having in the White House a criminal with corrupt ties to a major state adversary, Russia, and with no remedy. By all objective measure, we have an organized crime syndicate running the executive branch.
The consequence of the Republicans’ refusal to hold Trump accountable, is that the citizens, We the People, have been abandoned by our own government.
Or maybe I’ve got it all wrong. In Ground Hog Day, Bill Murray’s character only escaped his prison when he acquired a few redeeming qualities, like honesty, humility and compassion. Okay, sure, it’s a long shot, but maybe that’s the ticket here; maybe Trump has to learn how to become … human. Right. I don’t think so. VOTE – DEMOCRAT.
Copyright 2018 Daniel R. Cobb