By the end of Trump’s trial in the Senate, pretty much the only one still claiming the President’s conduct was “perfect”, was Trump.
Although now that the trial is over, and Trump’s skated, the White House seems to be trying to resurrect that narrative: Trump’s current National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien insisting the President never asked Ukraine’s government to investigate Joe and/or Hunter Biden. Just “corruption” in general. To which we say (as the President often has recently) “READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” Because in the “rough transcript” of the phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, released by Trump and subsequently touted repeatedly by Trump, the President says:
But at least O’Brien got us and others to repeat allegations against the Bidens. And we guess now that Trump’s acquitted (though still impeached), anything can be true. And we guess if you wanna prove to the President you’re not gonna end up being another John Bolton (who preceded O’Brien in the job), it’s probably good to go out and publicly say things like this.
Back in the Senate, Utah Republican Mitt Romney was the only crossover. From either party. He voted “guilty” on “Abuse of Power”. And significantly is the only Senator in U.S. history to vote to convict a President of his own party in an impeachment trial. (It’s likely some would’ve gone against Nixon if he hadn’t resigned first). What did Romney accomplish? Well, at very least he made it impossible for Trump to say the impeachment process was totally partisan, and he was totally vindicated.
No Democrats crossed over and voted to acquit Trump. Is that surprising? We’re not sure. Seems to us Democrats, at least, had little choice after Trump’s anti-unity State of the Union speech the night before.
Took Romney only one short sentence to sum up his decision:
You can watch his entire floor speech by clicking here or on the photo below:
More representative of where Republicans landed is somewhere in the neighborhood of:
- Democrats in the House didn’t do the impeachment properly in terms of procedure, and…
- Yeah, Trump did something, but let’s let the American public be the jurors, in the fall Presidential election, not us.
We watched a lot of the speeches leading up to the acquittal, but no one put it more plainly than Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Who expanded upon a statement he’d made a few days ago when he rejected the idea of hearing from witnesses like Bolton:
“There was no need for more evidence to prove something that I believed had already been proven and that did not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense. There was no need for more evidence to prove that the President asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. He said this on television on October 3, 2019, and he said it during his July 25, 2019 telephone call with the President of Ukraine. There was no need for more evidence to conclude that the President withheld United States aid at least in part to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.“
And so the Devil’s Bargain Republicans made with Trump moves forward: as long as he continues to appoint new conservative judges at a breakneck pace, (“and we have many in the pipeline” he ad-libbed in his State of the Union address), and throws in the occasional giant tax break, he can do whatever the hell else he wants to do because nothing else matters, really.
Other Republican priorities like taking a hatchet to programs like Social Security, and Medicare, and Medicaid will take care of themselves. Because even though the President continues to swear up and down he’s not going to touch them (although somehow Medicaid mysteriously disappeared from that pledge in the State of the Union speech), with the trillion-dollar annual budget deficits Trump is running, there’s no way those programs can remain sustainable as they are even at current levels, much less expanded, which they’ll have to be since the population is aging.
And more importantly, Republicans know they wouldn’t have pretty much half the country utterly under their spell without Trump. And they have no clue how they’d even begin to duplicate his astronomical approval ratings with Republican voters. (Interestingly, those Republican candidates who tried most faithfully to replicate Trump in building their own personas, by and large have lost because people find them to be really obnoxious and self-serving).
Which is why the question we always hear about “wouldn’t Mike Pence do the same basic stuff?” is one of the stupidest questions ever. This is looking way far ahead: but if Pence intends to run for President in 2024, and wants to win, his shot will come from making it known that his role in the White House will be as proxy to a term-limited Trump.
Trump’s contract with his supporters is a little bit different. Judges play into it, but in a more indirect way. His appeal here is largely centered on religion and guns. That is, in encouraging the strictest antiabortion laws possible, and breaking down the division between church and state. One of the few concrete promises he made during his State of the Union address–most everything else was boasting about stuff–was to put prayer in public schools. That also seems to mean he’s completely off any kind of gun legislation, which he has at times toyed with after mass shootings, (even once chiding fellow Republicans of being afraid of the NRA, and asserting he wasn’t), but doesn’t seem to be anymore. Both those priorities are interesting, because if you look back at Trump’s positions prior to becoming President, he doesn’t seem to personally care much about either of those issues.
But they do coalesce into a theme the President has always been big on: protection against an unbelievably dangerous world. Out to take advantage of, if not outright destroy ordinary Americans. Because we are such a good-hearted people, and everyone else is so jealous that we’ve got it so good. And guess what? Those evil outside forces have already infiltrated America on many levels. Beaten down the doors particularly in cities where you might see people of very different colors, very different religions, very different lifestyles, very different life philosophies. All of them threatening. Because their intent is not attaining the American dream for themselves, it’s to do it at the expense of Americans who have a “real” claim to call themselves Americans. And ultimately to take over.
The self-promoted image of Trump as protector is what allows him to say things like he “saved” coverage of pre-existing conditions, and have some people believe it, while at the same time he’s supporting a court case that’s trying to get rid of it, and the Supreme Court’s set to consider very soon.
Trump paints his picture more vividly and more dynamically than anyone else out there. There’s no disputing that. It’s just whether or not you buy into that BS.
Trump has also presided over the creation of a lot of jobs. And that’s obviously a positive. We won’t discuss today whether he deserves full credit for it, but he’s not hesitant to take it, and that sure helps people feel more secure too, and care less about what the President does in his spare time.
We’ve seen in the past two decades just how willingly people completely and freely have given up any semblance of privacy in their daily lives, in exchange for security. (Even though it’s a very imperfect security).
The next step from there is handing over the once-cherished tradition of having a say in how this country is governed, in exchange for someone just telling everybody what to do, and maybe more importantly blocking people from living lives you don’t agree with.
And with that level of protection firmly in place, whatever the hell else the President does, or how corrupt he may be, or how he behaves or treats others, doesn’t matter a lick.